Wednesday, 27 June 2012

The Hungry Thing


Was thinking today of what my favorite "monster" book was as a child, and The Hungry Thing by Jan Slepian and Ann Seidler came to mind. Its the story of this gluttonous monster with a speaking impediment who strolls into town and asks for things like "Gollypops" instead of "Lollipops", and generally causes good-natured confusion and befuddlement in the townspeople, save for one little boy who comes to act as interpreter in the quest to feed the bottomless pit on legs. (synopsis in a sentence). Now that I think about it, this critter is like a less creepy version of the gooey Noh monster in Spirited away. 


Did anyone else read this book as a child? What were your favorite childhood monsters? I think I mostly liked this book for the same reason I liked the Redwall books a little later on . . .for the food. . .

STFU I like to eat! 


Saturday, 23 June 2012

Urban Survival?

So, in the past six years I have moved around between Saskatoon and Regina, two small high-crime prairie cities, and from there to Montreal, a surprisingly low-crime massive city. I get a bit into comparing the crime rates here.

Not to be all paranoid and assuming that everyone lurking in an alley is out to get you -- my sister, with her random acts of kindness policy towards the homeless and downtrodden has proven that that isn't true-- the reality is that addicts, people with psychological issues, and people who are just plain desperate are out there, and they may have their own reasons for behaving in ways that harm others.

Now, I'm the sort of girl who has never needed a man to walk me home. Saskatoon, Regina, or Montreal, I like to be out and about unescorted  at all hours -- six in the morning right through to three in the morning. I have performed a few little social experiments to see what sort of practices on my part makes me more of a target for harassment by the local wildlife, and what practices help me to blend into the background. I guess what I'm trying to do here is to write down a few common-sense ways a girl on her own can wander around in relative safety.

1) Don't dress like you have money, or drugs: That is to say, dress plainly. You'll blend into the background. Invariably, I have experienced the most insistent harassment for spare change when I am dressed up in a skirt and heels, looking like I might have some money to burn. Dressing like you yourself live on the street isn't really the safest option either, as you may appear as a source of illicit drugs. For me, scummy jeans, a plain t-shirt, a slouchy sweater, running shoes, and unbrushed hair works best. You really do become invisible.

2) Walk with purpose: Even if you're not going anywhere in particular, walk like you are. Don't loiter, don't gape, don't wander in circles looking mildly confused, and for the love of God, don't look lost. All of those things are like hanging out an "I'm vulnerable, have at me" sign.

3) Remain aware of your surroundings: If you must have your headphones in, turn them down. Make sure you can at least somewhat hear what is going on around you. Also, keep your eyes moving as though you are driving (minus the rearview mirror check, because that would just be silly). Look far ahead, look closer nearby, look a bit to the left, look a bit to the right. This has saved me some unpleasant encounters, like the time I spotted two obviously high young men emerging whooping and hollering from a building and wandering down the sidewalk screaming in the faces of passersby. It could also save you someone sneaking up on you and grabbing your purse.

4) Make it difficult to grab anything of value: Wrap your pursestrap around your thumb, or wear it slung across your body. Don't keep your wallet in a pocket unless the pocket zips or snaps shut. Securely holding your things makes you less of a target.

5) Don't wear stupid shoes: I'm bad at this. But if you're gonna be in a "bad" part of town late, make sure you have shoes you feel safe running in. Just in case.

6) Avoid deserted streets in non-residential or sketchy residential areas: Generally, a deserted street in a wealthier, more well-patrolled neighborhood is safe. But if you've gotta be out in a "bad" area or downtown at two or three in the morning, try to stay where it is well-lit, and where there are other people still around en masse. Preferably still businesses open as well (though things that are open late are nearly impossible to find in Saskatoon, Regina, and Montreal. Go figure, something they all have in common).

7) Make it apparent that you have a phone: I have never been accosted while talking on the phone. If there is no one to walk with me (which is almost always), I will call someone back home to chatter to while I walk. That way, if something were to go wrong, someone out there would know instantly. Don't get super lost in the conversation . . .still pay attention to where you are. But having another person "present" can be as much of a deterrent to anyone who might want to do you harm as having someone physically at your side.

SO, now that ya'll think I'm super paranoid, I guess I'll sign off for today. Happy Saturday!

Pretty in Pink

Dressed up a bit for date night with the boy. First time I've worn all pink since I was five. Think I feel good about it!
blondes have all the fun, right?



Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Chronicles of the Medicated

So, its time for another one of those painfully honest posts (as if seeing me half naked once a month wasn't brutal enough). For most of my life, I have struggled with depression, bipolarity, and anxiety. Bipolarity, in particular, I have a genetic predisposition to, as it can be traced back for three generations in my family. However, despite knowing about my genetic predisposition towards being batshit crazy, I spent the first twenty two years of my life steadfastly in denial. Given a little more time, I would get a grip, I'd tell myself. If I thought it through enough, remained self aware, eventually I'd be "normal". Eventually the sadness and the moodswings and the anxiety would go away, as long as I *worked* at it hard enough.

This notion of somehow intellectually bludgeoning myself into good mental health was reinforced by my parents, who viewed the taking of any kind of medication (head-drug) as a sign of weakness. Its not just my parents, either. Society, up until very recently, has tended to view people who use medication to sort out their emotional and mental problems in a pretty negative light. Taking the easy way out.

But here's the thing. Sometimes you *can't* bludgeon yourself into shape. Sometimes, there really is something just miswired inside of you. Chemical imbalance. Something firing wrong. Just makes you feel down (or up and down and up and down) for no real reason. Hell, it got to the point for me where I would *invent* reasons just to justify the moodswings, particularly the bouts of depression and anxiety. For the record, making shit up to justify how you are feeling isn't normal, healthy, or good. At that point, I suggest you consider that your problems might be chemical in nature, and seek out a doctor. 

Which is exactly what I did, about two years ago, during a particularly low point in my existence. I didn't do it right at all. I went to a walk-in clinic, where they had me fill out a bunch of goofy tests (quizilla, anyone?), which the doctor swiftly frowned over, and went "hmmm" and then wrote me a prescription for Prozac (for the depression) and Divalproex (for the bipolar). 

Now for the surprising bit. Despite the slapdash nature of my getting my hands on these drugs, and despite a rather unfortunate two weeks when they had me on ativan for anxiety, which made me sleep about eighteen hours a day, I found that, once I had adapted, the prozac and the divalproex actually helped. 

It was like a switch flipped on in my brain. Things which had seemed insurmountable before (like getting up in the morning and finding breakfast AND putting my shirt on right side in) began to look like what they were (aka: life). And things I hadn't even dreamed of doing before (like going to school across the country) suddenly seemed possible. Despite not being medicated directly for anxiety, the cocktail for depression/bipolarity seemed to also work to reduce my anxiety significantly. I spent less time freaking out and fretting, and more time just doing things and dealing with my problems. Not to say that I turned into superwoman or anything. I'd still have my down days. I still do. But the world isn't a big, scary, dreadful place anymore. It is the world, and I am in it, and I will make the most of the time I have.

Some people will read this and think : psychosomatic. Seven years ago or so, I would have been inclined to agree. But, the thing is, I have gone off of my meds (for financial reasons), and the old problems gradually snuck back in like fourteen year olds at an R rated movie. The change was so gradual, that I didn't notice I was having problems again until my boyfriend pointed out that my constant depression was starting to damage our relationship. All I can say is thank God for boyfriends. I smartened up, I went to the doctor, I got back on my meds . . . and again, within two weeks, that switch had flipped, and everything once again seemed possible. It wasn't too long after that that I nailed down a job, finished the semester with flying colors, started exercising more and started to have more and more time to spend with friends (as opposed to laying in bed staring at the ceiling fan). It was also around that time that I started blogging again in earnest, now that I think about it. February-ish.

So no, its not "all in my head", and its not something that I can "work through". There are other issues I have that I am sure therapy would prove useful for, like anxiety. But the depression and the bipolar behavior seem to be purely chemical in nature, and the medications help in a way that no amount of introspective self-aware, touchy-feely bullshit ever could.

That is not to say, however, that I think that everyone should just give up, give in, and get medicated. Far from it. I fought for a good decade to get a grip on myself, and it was only after fighting for so long, that I realized a different tactic was needed. I think its important for people to strive to get a grip on their own issues before hopping on the pill wagon. However, I think it is also important that people not demonize the use of medication to address mental health issues. If the therapy or self-discovery route just isn't doing it for you, if you're verging on despair and all of your personal relationships are going to shambles because no matter how hard you try, you can't seem to think and feel like a normal rational human being, there is absolutely no shame in being medicated. None at all. And you can tell anyone who tries to tell you differently to go fuck themselves, because I will tell you this: when there is something wrong in you that is throwing everything you care about, and maybe your own life into jeopardy, only a really crazy person would refuse to explore all of their options.

And you don't want to be really crazy, do you? 

The Girl in the Window : 2nd draft

second draft based on some feedback from friends. Smoothed out the voice, and made the center bit less choppy and obvious.

We all have our faults, y'know? No one is perfect--not even Brian, though he was maybe as close to perfect as anyone I've ever known. Maybe if I told you a bit about some of his faults, it'd help. Make things a little clearer. Help you understand how he got himself into this mess in the first place. I dunno. But who better to tell you than me? I mean, who knows him better than I do?

When I first met Brian, we were in middle school. I was on my way home, when a group of eighth graders cornered me in the alley I always took as a shortcut. The alley between the SuperSave and Bernie's. You know the one. Anyway, these three older boys surrounded me, started shovin' me around, calling me names. "Tabitha, Scabitha, gross gunty Flabitha." Kids can be real assholes, you know that?

The biggest of the three--I think it was Billy Ray--shoved me down in the dirt. They took my backpack and were digging through it, dumping out all my stuff--pens, notebooks, my sketchpad--while this kid, Billy Ray Warbler, stood with his foot on my back. Its when they were talkin', wonderin' what to do to me next--horrible things, I'm tellin' you, really bad--that Brian rounded the corner, and even though he was a year younger, and had half of Billy Ray's body mass, he started hollerin', kicking up a fuss that would've gotten the shit kicked outta him if the police station hadn't been just a block away. These bigger boys got scared and hightailed it, left me face down in the dirt cryin'.

Brian could've left me then. I would've been safe. But he didn't. He was too big for that. He came over, asked me if I was alright, dusted me off, helped me gather up my things. He even offered to walk me to my front door, in case they came back, but I wouldn't let him. Maybe I was a little vainer back then, but our house isn't anything to shake a stick at, and I didn't want him seein' it.

The point I'm tryin' to make is that Brian was generous, kind almost to a fault. He was so filled with love that he would give away pieces of his heart like it was parade candy. I mean, seriously, the guy had seventeen girlfriends between the tenth grade and his second year of college. Nineteen if you count Laurie and Sue, but I don't. I think we can all agree that that was two weeks of mistakes better left forgotten. Every one of those girls would walk away with a piece of him, an' as he got older, I could see him getting a little more guarded, a little less like the boy who'd helped me in the alley between the SuperSave and Bernie's. He got distant. So, I guess his generosity is his first real fault, if you can call it that.

Anyway, from that day on, I knew we'd be best friends. And we were, though I don't think Brian could ever admit it outright. I wasn't exactly what you'd call "popular", if you hadn't guessed. Not some fuckin' cheerleader. Brian's second major fault was that he always cared too much about what people thought of him. That's why he'd never acknowledge our friendship publicly. That stung a little, I'll admit now. Sometimes it stung more than a little. In his defense, though, he always had my back. An' I always had his.Those seventeen girlfriends? They never got to know him like I did. Not even close.

Brian's third fault--and this is the biggest one--was that he was too trusting. Always too trusting. This is prolly a bad example, but I remember the first time his so-called "buddies" asked him out drinkin'. (I say "so-called" 'cause they were always gettin' him into trouble. He would've done better without them around). He was, I dunno, fourteen? It was our first real party, an'I tagged along, even though I wasn't drinkin'. They told him it would be fun to do shots of tequila, but they lied. He trusted them, and he wound up spending most of the night heaving up the ham and provolone sandwich his Mom--Jane, sweet lady-- had made him for lunch. He wouldn't even let me help him. Kept pushing me away, telling me to just fuckin' leave him alone. Yeah, that was pretty messed up. Though that experience didn't put him off of booze. By the time he'd finished his second year of college -- did I mention we were both lucky enough to get into the state college here together? Yeah, different programs, but at least we got to be on the same campus-- he was partyin' every weekend. That probably goes back to 
him carin' about what people thought and all. His need to belong. But in the end, I guess that's what everyone is looking for, y'know?

But about Brian being too trustin' . . .the moment I met Samantha, I knew she couldn't be trusted. I mean, think about it. Can any woman with red painted fingernails and red lipstick be trusted? Especially one who wears her skirt about four inches above the knee? I'm not really one to subscribe to stereotypes, but there was somethin' evil about her, that I sensed right off. They were eating lunch together outside the campus cafeteria. Her long black hair shone down her back and she was smoking a cigarette, probably giving Brian lung cancer. All that second hand smoke. She smoked like a chimney, or like Satan. I'm not sure. You'd think she coulda at least quit, for his sake.

Apparently, he had met her a few nights before at the on-campus bar, the Lazy Owl. I hadn't been able to make it that night, because I was visitin' my father up at Sunnybrook. I guess you would know all about him, wouldn't you?  If I'd been there, I would have put a stop to it. But by the time I first saw Samantha, it was too late. She'd sunk her claws into him. That was probably why her nails were so red, nevermind her lips. Harpy.

Within a week they were facebook official. Within a month there were 142 pictures of them up together, mostly of her being a camera whore, shovin' Brian to the background. Which is exactly what their relationship was like, though I don't think he really noticed. He was totally smitten with her. She must've been great in bed, but I don't really like to think about it.Brian, in bed, I mean. I'm not that kinda girl.

She would text him constantly. I checked his phone once. Every five minutes it was "I wuv you snugglerabbit", or "can't wait to see u tonite", or "Should I buy those shoes we saw?". Disgusting. She was slowly beginning to take over his life. Every single evening was spent with her. He slept at her place at night, and ate lunch with her every day. He bought her things--clothes, jewelry, concert tickets. Like I said, Brian was always really generous. I imagine she felt like she had a pretty sweet deal in him, and wanted to keep it that way. Yet, for some reason, I was the only one who could see it. I was the only one who realized how she was manipulating him towards that night back in March when he got down on one knee at the Oriental Gardens and asked her to marry him.

I couldn't let that happen. You have to understand. I couldn't. Brian was too essentially good to wind up bound for life with that crazy, overbearing, greedy, red-nailed . . . sorry.


So, I decided to put an end to it. The night all this happened, I went over there, to their new apartment, while Brian was still at work. All I wanted to do was talk to her. Confront her. Call her out for using Brian in the same way all of his other girlfriends had. I couldn't stand to see him hurt again. She pretended not to know who I was, but I knew she knew better. I knew Brian would have told her about me. After all, I was his best friend.No way he'd hide someone that important from the girl he wanted to marry. 

I guess that made me angry. That she pretended not to know who I was. 


It was when I was pulling the stainless steel kitchen knife from her chest cavity for the fifth time that Brian walked in. Though she was gone at that point, her blood turning the white tiles crimson, her claws were still in him. It was the first time I'd ever seen Brian really angry, when he lunged at me, but I knew he'd get over it. True friends can never stay angry at eachother for long, you know what I mean?

Its true. He didn't really look angry anymore, when his eyes were glazing over, and I laid him down on the floor. He looked peaceful. Peaceful, like he finally understood. I think, at the end, he finally knew how much I meant to him. I knew that I had done the right thing. 

So those were Brian's flaws: he was too generous, too concerned with appearances, an' too trusting, all of which led to the situation the other night. But I can't really blame him. Like I said, we all have our flaws. Its just a matter of learnin' to deal with them, and make the right decisions.

Am I right?

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

One Shot: The Girl In The Window

We all have our faults. No one is perfect--not even Brian, though he was maybe as close to perfect as anyone I've ever known. Maybe if I told you a bit about some of his faults, it'd help. Make things a little clearer. Help you understand how he got himself into this mess in the first place. I dunno. But who better to tell you than me? I mean, who knows him better than I do?

When I first met Brian, we were in middle school. I was on my way home, when a group of eighth graders cornered me in the alley I always took as a shortcut. The alley between the SuperSave and Bernie's. You know the one. Anyway, these three older boys surrounded me, started shoving me around, calling me names. "Tabitha, Scabitha, gross gunty Flabitha." Kids can be real assholes, you know that?

The biggest of the three--I think it was Billy Ray--shoved me down in the dirt. They took my backpack and were digging through it, dumping out all my stuff--pens, notebooks, my sketchpad--while this kid, Billy Ray Warbler, stood with his foot on my back. Its when they were talking, wondering what to do with me next--horrible things, I'm talking, really bad--that Brian rounded the corner, and even though he was a year younger, and had half of Billy Ray's body mass, he started hollerin', kicking up a fuss that would have gotten the shit kicked outta him if the police station hadn't been just a block away. These bigger boys got scared and hightailed it, leaving me face down in the dirt, crying.

Brian could have left me then. I would have been safe. But he didn't. His heart was too big for that. He came over, asked me if I was alright, dusted me off, helped me gather up my things. He even offered to walk me to my front door, in case they came back, but I wouldn't let him. Maybe I was a little vainer back then, but our house isn't anything to shake a stick at, and I didn't want him seein' it.

But the point I'm trying to make is that Brian was generous, kind almost to a fault. He was so filled with love that he would give away pieces of his heart like it was parade candy. I mean, seriously, the guy had seventeen girlfriends between the tenth grade and his second year of college. Nineteen if you count Laurie and Sue, but I don't. I think we can all agree that that was two weeks of mistakes better left forgotten. Every one of those girls would walk away with a piece of him, and as he got older, I could see him getting a little more guarded, a little less like the boy who had helped me in the alley between the SuperSave and Bernie's. Greedy girlfriends who would walk all over his generosity and take it for granted started to take their toll on Brian, and there was really nothing I could do but watch. So, I guess his generosity is his first real fault, if you can call it that.

I knew, from that day when he helped me, that we would grow to become the closest of friends. And we did, though Brian never admitted it outright. I wasn't exactly what you would call "popular", if you hadn't guessed. Not some fucking cheerleader. Brian's second major fault was that he always cared too much about what people thought of him. That's why he would never publicly acknowledge our friendship. That stung a little, I'll admit that now. Sometimes it stung more than a little. In his defense, though, he always had my back. And I always had his.Those seventeen girls? They never got to know him like I did. Not even close.


Anyway, yeah, Brian cared way too much about what people thought. Always put a little extra effort into his hair and clothes. Always had those girls swooning over him, and could you blame them? Still, I knew even then that his heart would never belong to anyone as dopey as any of them. He was a special guy, and he deserved a special girl. I think I figured that out a long time before he did. If he ever figured it out at all. All I can do is hope that he figured it out before the end.


Brian's third fault--and this is the biggest one--was that he was too trusting. Always too trusting. I remember the first time his so-called "buddies" asked him out drinking. (I say "so-called" because they were always getting him into trouble. He would have done so much better without them in his life). He would have been, I dunno, fourteen? It was our first real party, and though I wouldn't drink, I tagged along. They told him it would be fun to do shots of tequila, but they lied. He trusted them, and he wound up spending most of the night heaving up the ham and provolone sandwich his mother had made him for lunch. He wouldn't even let me help him. Kept pushing me away, telling me to just fuckin' leave him alone. Goes to show how messed up tequila can make you, huh? Though that experience didn't put him off of it. By the time he had finished his second year of college -- did I mention we were both lucky enough to get into the state college here together? Yeah, different programs, but at least we got to be on the same campus-- he was partying every weekend. That probably goes back to his need to please people. His need to belong. But in the end, I guess that's what everyone is looking for.


I'm rambling. Back to trust.The moment I met Samantha, I knew she couldn't be trusted. I mean, think about it. Can any woman with red painted fingernails and red lipstick be trusted? Especially one who wears her skirt about four inches above the knee? I'm not really one to subscribe to stereotypes, but there was something essentially evil about her, that I sensed the moment I first saw her. They were eating lunch together outside the campus cafeteria. Her long black hair shone down her back and she was smoking a cigarette, probably giving Brian lung cancer, the poor dear boy. All that second hand smoke. She smoked like a chimney, or like Satan. I'm not sure.


Apparently, he had met her a few nights before at the on campus bar, the Lazy Owl. I hadn't been able to make it that night, because I was visiting my father up at Sunnybrook. I guess you guys would know all about him, wouldn't you?  If I'd been there, I would have put a stop to it. But by the time I first saw Samantha, it was much too late. She had sunk her claws into his heart. That was probably why her nails were so red, nevermind her lips. Harpy.


Within a week they were facebook official. Within a month there were 142 pictures of them up together, mostly of her being a camera whore, shoving Brian to the background. Which is exactly what their relationship was like, though I don't think he really noticed. He was, by this point, totally smitten with her. She must have been great in bed, but I don't really like to think about it.


She would text him constantly. I checked his phone once. Every five minutes it was "I wuv you snugglerabbit", or "can't wait to see u tonite", or "Should I buy those shoes we saw?". Disgusting. She was slowly beginning to take over his life. Every single evening was spent with her. He slept at her place at night, and ate lunch with her every day. He bought her things--clothes, jewelry, concert tickets. Like I said, Brian was always really generous. I imagine she felt like she had a pretty sweet deal in him, and wanted to keep it that way. Yet, for some reason, I was the only one who could see it. I was the only one who realized how she was manipulating him, gradually, towards that one night back in March when he got down on one knee at the Oriental Gardens and asked her to marry him.


I couldn't let that happen. You have to understand. I couldn't. Brian was too essentially good to wind up bound for life with that crazy, overbearing, greedy, red-nailed slut. Pardon my language.


So, I decided to put an end to it. The night all this happened, I went over there, to their new apartment, while Brian was still at work. All I wanted to do was talk to her. Confront her. Call her out for using Brian in the same way all of his previous girlfriends had. I couldn't stand to see him used and hurt again. She pretended not to know who I was, but I knew she knew better. I knew Brian would have told her about me. After all, I was his best friend. 


I guess that made me angry. That she pretended not to know who I was. It was when I was pulling the stainless steel kitchen knife from her chest cavity for the fifth time that Brian walked in through the door. Though she was gone at that point, her blood turning the white tiles a lurid crimson, she had not released her hold on him. It was the first time I had ever seen Brian really angry, when he lunged at me, but even then I knew he'd get over it. True friends can never stay angry at eachother for long, right?


Its true. He didn't really look angry anymore, as his eyes began to glaze over, and I laid him down on the floor. He looked peaceful. Peaceful, like he finally understood. I think, at the end, he finally knew how much I meant to him. I knew then, that I had done the right thing. 


So those were Brian's flaws: that he was too generous, too concerned with appearances, and too trusting, all of which led to the situation the other night. But I can't really blame him. Like I said, we all have our flaws. Its just a matter of learning to deal with them, and making the right decisions.


Right?


**yay for twisted short story. Too bloody hot to sleep, so I thought I'd finish it tonight.

Barefoot Gen

**Warning, contains some links to unsettling images**

Last night I watched Barefoot Gen, (1983 movie) which is the story of a young boy's experiences in Hiroshima during the latter part of the war, including, and following the atomic bombing.

Barefoot Gen is based (loosely) on the real life experiences of the original manga's original author, Keiji Nakazawa, and it manages to be both unflinching, heartfelt, and retain a sort of hopeful innocence that was totally unexpected, for me. That's not to say that Barefoot Gen sugarcoats the war, or the horrors of the atomic bombing. Far from it. 80's styled animation or no, there were some scenes that made me feel a little queasy, like the group of half-dead radiation victims stumbling blindly in search of help, one mother with a charred baby on her back.

However, even as the movie reminds us of the horrors of war, and the terrible pains human beings can inflict on one another, it staunchly refuses to point fingers. Americans are not demonized, nor are the Japanese or anyone else. The only place where blame is laid is with those on both sides who are hungry for bloodshed for its own sake.

Despite the movie's dark gruesomeness, as we watch half of Gen's family killed, watch the people of Hiroshima suffer through extreme burns, radiation sickness, and malnutrition, it manages to end on a note of hope, and of love, as Gen resolves to strive for a better future in the memory of those he has lost.

However, just to keep myself from getting too upbeat about it, I also spent an hour looking at actual images of victims of the bombings. I know that might sound a little twisted, and maybe it is, but for me I find that if I look at this kind of horror and really think about it hard at least once a year, it really puts things into perspective. My own physical, mental, and emotional problems seem so small in comparison to the suffering gone through by the real life counterparts of Gen and his family, that I really reinforce my own desire to become a better, more understanding, less sensitive, and less self-pitying individual.

Is using the suffering of others in this way self serving? Maybe. But hey, if I'm going to be self-serving, I might as well do it to the good.


Monday, 18 June 2012

Sunday, 17 June 2012

Escargot

So, after a failed experiment this morning with an admittedly bizarre muffin recipe (I wound up with what can only be described as dense cakes of squirrel-food, which I'm sure are high in fibre, chock full of energy, and nutritious, but look like shit and taste like meh) I found more success in the afternoon with SNAILS.

Ingredients:

about 6 tbsp butter
1 can escargot
1 small onion, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup spinach, roughly chopped
CRACKERS

Directions:
Heat up the butter, fry up those onions and garlic. Drain and wash escargot, throw escargot in butter/onion/garlic mixture, stir around until coated, add spinach, cook until spinach is limp, remove from heat. I served it up on crackers, with broccoli on the side. Simple, rich, delicious, and it made me feel all fancy schmancy.



Nobody Needs to See This, Part 3

Third installment of our monthly torture \o/. I'ma level with you. I've been slacking. I've gone from working out every day, to about three or four times a week. Nevertheless, I am seeing major improvements in my flexibility, strength, and stamina. Still experiencing fatigue, but I think that's more to do with a wacky sleep schedule than not enough exercise. I've added more cardio this month, with forays into jogging, and have also been doing a lot more work on my arms.  Dunno if I look any different, but here goes!



April 18, 2012
June 18, 2012
April 18, 2012
June 18, 2012

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Primeval

Decided to poke around in a British TV show featuring one of my favorite English cuties, this guy:

Derrrrrp! 
And a less derpy screencap of Andrew Lee Potts:

Also featuring this gal: 


So what's not to love? (Well, apart from the poor animation of the "monsters", and rather bland writing). 

The story revolves around the opening of a number of wormholes to prehistoric times, which allow various kinds of scaleys and creepy crawlies through to wreak havoc upon human kind. Our heroes, a professor on a quest to find his missing wife, his assistant, a conspiracy theorist geeky student (guess who plays that), and a girl with a way with reptiles (see pink undies above) work along with government agents to study these critters, and keep them from doing harm. 

While not overwhelmingly *good*, its not overwhelmingly *bad* either. And, I'll admit it, its kinda addictive in a lighthearted sorta way. 

Anyway, more screencaps! 

My two favorite characters 

Plus the other two



Tuesday, 12 June 2012

S.J. Perelman, Pt. 5

"For Goddness' sake, has everybody gone stark, staring Wang?" -- for Kyle

"Then he forgot all about it, except to lie awake three nights and stay indoors waiting for the telephone to ring" (haven't we all been there?)

"In a few badly chosen words, the producer explained his predicament . . . 'I'll tell you the meat of the story .. . Its got plenty of spontinuity when you maul it over in your mind, only just this one little thing you got to figure out'"

"When I was growing up in New Guinea, or coming of age in Samoa, or whatever the hell I was doing about the age of thirteen. . ."

"At ten o'clock this morning, fortified with a bottle of Benzedrine and a stoup of black coffee, I kissed my newsdealer good-bye and set out to read through the Christmas-party suggestions in Mademoiselle, Vogue, and House & Garden. "

" 'Dip tips of twisted cotton strips into India ink and trim your tree entirely with 'ermine tails'' he orders. 'Pin a fresh mauve orchid to the treetop.' Arresting as the effect might be, the actual execution seems a bit less simple. 'Well, what do we do next?' I can hear a Mr. Kapustin asking his wife as he finishes tacking up the last holly wreath. Mrs. Kapustin peers uncertainly at her copy of Mademoiselle. ''Tip dips of twisted crotton sips'--' she begins. 'No, wait a minute. 'Sip dips of cristed totton tips--'' Obviously, such an enterprise can only end in disaster. Either Mr. Kapustin, who is extremely short tempered, snatches the magazine from his wife, provoking a free-for-all, or the dawn discloses two pallid house-holders on the verge of a breakdown, mumbling, 'Dip, dip, dip'. "

Perelman shows another example of clairvoyance when he outlines a skit, in which brand names are constantly dropped. He calls this a "blueprint for a new department-store dramaturgy", which has certainly come to pass in the form of inescapable product placements on the big screen now.

"Available in nineteen different shades -- among them wine, russet, beige, peach, grackle, stone, liver, lover, blubber, blabber and clabber." 

"In pulp fiction, it is a rigid convention that the hero's shoulders and the heroine's balcon constantly  threatens to burst their bonds, a possibility which keeps the audience in a state of tense expectancy."

And, ending the book, words from the introduction:

"Like Attila's horse, of whom it was said that grass would never grow again where once it trod, Perelman leaves behind him a spoor of crushed and bleeding prose  that will never flower again. A plague on all his Grouses!"



Sunday, 10 June 2012

Future Fashions, S.J. Perelman, Pt. 4

AM GOAN FINISH THIS BOOK TODAY IF IT KILLS ME!

some background on the following few quotes: they are from a scenario in which the author reads a vogue magazine (probably circa 1947) which envisions the fashions of the future, AKA the 21st century, AKA now. Interesting to read, and definitely funny both from the perspective of then, and [now.]

" 'These materials,' explains Mr. Teague of his fabrics of the future, 'will be of chemical origin, and many will be either transparent or translucent, with an individual life of their own.' [proliferation of synthetic fibers, anyone?] I hope this last phrase of Mr. Teague's is purely figurative; offhand, the thought of clothes leading an existence independent of their owner is a little on the spooky side. How are you going to remain cool and poised on that future day when you demand hotly of your wife, 'Where in the hell are those pants I threw over the chair last night?' only to get the answer, 'Oh, they went up to Pride's Crossing for the weekend with my girdle. They'll be back Tuesday morning'?"

"They wrap her (the woman of the future) in aluminum foil, woollens interwoven with electric wire, and as yet undiscovered fabrics, to quote . . . 'of microscopic cellular construction made of a contracting and expanding fibre.' What is this awful preoccupation with having your clothes twitch around in a horrid little life of their own? Did I miss something? I have the strange feeling that I have been asleep for twenty years and that everybody is jeering at my unkempt hair and rusty fowling piece." 
woolens interwoven with electric wire
"contracting and expanding fibre."
" ' She may wear in her hair a headlight,' .  . . The least her escort could do under the circumstances is carry an old fashioned stem-winding watch and whistle at the grade crossings."
That last quote predicts raver and steampunk
aesthetic quite nicely, don't you think?

"'These sequins are really . . .traffic reflectors of Lucite, made by the Signal Service Corporation. They are warranted to pick up and reflect the light from an automobile headlight a mile distant,' which certainly ought to prove a boon to the innumerable brides who are members of the united states army signal corps"

sequin belt
"Mr. Dreyfuss provides his miss with a combination electric fan and vanity case, described as follows: 'Nothing coquettish about it, for it will get its current by radio waves through he ether, nad will cool this girl, as well as clip the noses of any unwelcome suitors . . .I do not speak with bitterness, Mr. Dreyfuss, but to clothe a young lady in skin-tight black net and then hand her a gadget for clipping unwelcome suitors' noses is no way to creep into my heart"

Perhaps something like what
Mr. Dreyfuss envisioned 

"Mr. Rohde envisions the man of the twenty-first century in a ski suit. . .whose color can be changed. . .'The gentleman, for example, may start to the office in a rich gun-metal Solo-suit, drab in color, but scintillating with life (there's that same dreadful insistence on the material's moiling and churning"

Not quite what Rohde had envisioned, but UV color
changing t-shirts. 
"On this man's head, Mr. Rohde places an 'Antenna Hat," rather similar in design to the coils of a copper still: 'It snatches the radio and Omega waves out of he ether-here, at last, is man's opportunity to escape from the deadly monotony of the twentieth century male hat' The prospect of having Guy Lombardo playing about your head and ears is enough to stir the pulse of the most apathetic."
Not quite a hat, but the gist is right -- bluetooth
"The feet. . ..are to be encased in nothing more or less than congress gaiters 'with breather pores just large enough for air, but too small for water."

yup.
Perelman finishes: 
"For two days now I have been crouching in a corner of this coal bin, enjoying a peace I never thought possible. OF course, the grit gets in your teeth and there is a leak in that pipe overhead, but on the other hand its just a trifle too dark for reading. Why, you couldn't even see your hand before your face, particularly if it were holding a copy of Vogue. And goodness knows, it'll be a long time before its steady enough for that. "


Guess he wouldn't like living now much.




Thursday, 7 June 2012

My Two Cents

I figure its about time I lay down my thoughts on the student protests/ public response going on in Montreal. Just as a preface, two cents might be about all my opinion is worth here. I am not a native of Quebec, I am not involved in the protests, and I'm not an avid follower of the news. However, because so many friends back home have asked about it, I figured what the hell, I might as well throw down my thoughts and impressions as a quasi "outside observer" to the whole thing.

First of all, I do not agree with the way the student protests started out. Crowding the streets during the day and banging pots and pans at night does nothing but inconvenience and piss off the taxpayers--who the students should be trying to get on-side, rather than annoy, if they want to keep tuition at least partially subsidized by the government. Also, the notion of "striking" from university seems about as effective as boycotting Walmart, which is to say, not very effective at all. (Yes, I did just compare McGill to Walmart -- here's your McEducation, would you like fries with that? But that's another rant in and of itself).

Secondly, I think the entire reason these protests are taking place (namely the dramatic hike in tuition fees and the increased student debt that will cause) is perhaps a poorly thought out cause. We live in a debt based economy, on a global scale, and no amount of shouting, waving signs, or pinning red squares onto our lapels is going to change that. The provincial government is able to do about as much to remedy this international situation as we ourselves are, and the feds can't do much more. It would take worldwide economic cooperation in order to erase the culture of debt in which we now live, and honestly, I think we'll be able to genetically engineer pigs that fly before international cooperation of that sort comes about.

So, that for that. The whole thing is an exercise in futility.

However, that is not to say that I agree with the ways in which the situation has been handled by the media, the police, and the government. For starts, the media has blown the whole thing out of proportion, making the protests into "riots", and generally giving the students a lot of bad press that they don't necessarily deserve. Its not like I have to walk the streets in fear of being firebombed and gang-raped by money-hungry students frothing at the mouth. The worst you can accuse this movement of is of choosing to fight a fight that no one has the power to win.

The police are likewise overreacting. I have seen a couple of these protests in action. While the noise can be overwhelming, the disruption to traffic patterns annoying, and the presence of human bodies nigh on awe-inspiring, its not exactly something that needs an entire police force armed with Tasers and pepper spray and batons and goddam horses to control.

And finally, perhaps the most drama-queen-ish of the entire lot is the provincial government itself. The passing of Bill 78, which you can read about here, was a completely overblown response to the unrest, and has, as most overblown responses do, just made things worse, actually turning the tide for the protesters, transforming them from annoyances into near-martyrs. National support for the movement has grown since the passing of Bill 78, as the plight of the Quebec students comes to symbolize a wider struggle for basic rights and freedoms across Canada. Which is a real shame, when there are so many other, more significant, and more damaging affronts to basic human rights and freedoms that occur just beyond our blinders every day in this country.

Tuesday, 5 June 2012

S.J. Perelman, Pt. 3

"Alaunia Alaunovna dropped a small curtsy. The young man, a pitying expression on his face, picked it up and quickly returned it to her. She gave him a grateful glance named Joe."

"For years I have let dentests ride rough-shod over my teeth; I have been sawed, hacked, chopped, whittled, bewitched,, bewildered, tattooed, and signed on again; but this is cuspid's last stand"

"We became good friends and it came as something of a blow when I heard the next morning that he had fallen of the train during the night. The fireman said that we had circled about for an hour trying to find him, but that it had been impossible to lower a boat because we did not carry a boat."

"My brokers, Whitelipped & Trembling were beside themselves"

"The basket of slave bracelets and marzipan awaiting me on my return home made me realize to what lengths Diana would go."

"Diana turned on her radio. With a savage snarl, the radio turned on her."

Things I've Learned This Week

* Jogging can be fun!
* I don't actually know how to jog. I run. Like a cross country runner. Or a demented gazelle. CURSE YOU MR. BUSWELL!!!
*Bon Cop Bad Cop is an awesome movie. An English/French/100% Canadian hybrid, that perfectly combines comedy with the macabre, with some damn fine acting-- Watch it!
* Final Fantasy: The Spirit Within is an awesome animated movie, which makes you think about science vs. magic vs. faith (without intending to). All star voice cast. Watch it!
* Lords of Dogtown is an awesome (and unflinching)  movie about the early days of the skateboarding culture in California. Watch it!
* Red State is an awesome Kevin Smith Movie, that manages to be horror, and tense cop film and tongue-in-cheek social-commentary all rolled into one. Watch it! 
*You can never watch too many good movies in one weekend.
* Robert Downey Jr. can't always save a film (Due Date)
* My boyfriend can fly.
* (My boyfriend can fly when he's not falling down and breaking things)
* Wet weather is depressing.
* The student clinic here is super fast during the summer.
* The most difficult part of the day is remembering to take the garbage out.
* I am sad that I was born too late for Christian Slater. 
* I have an arch nemesis in the form of an Asian dude in a black leather jacket, black leather pants, with a utility pouch on his thigh, who glares at me, making direct eye contact through the bus window as I travel past him. . .
* Too much candy is a beautiful thing. 

Sunday, 3 June 2012

S.J. Perelman, Pt. 2 : Some things never change

Some recent giggles from "The Best of S.J. Perelman", to do with advertising and lifestyle magazines. It seems like the nature of the advertising business hasn't changed much since the forties. Perelman has an uncanny gift for pointing out the ridiculous in the everyday, which is so obvious it often goes entirely unobserved.

"God knows how the convention ever got started, but if it is true that the camera never lies, a foundation garment or a girdle stimulates the fair sex to a point just this side of madness. The little ladies are always represented with their heads thrown back in an attitude of fierce desire, arms upflung to an unseen deity as though swept along in some Dionysian revel."

"Perhaps the most curious mutation of the corset advertisement is the transformation, or clinical type, consisting of two photographs. The first shows a rather bedraggled young matron in a gaping, misshapen girdle at least half a dozen sizes too large for her, cringing under the cool inspection of a trained nurse and several friends. Judging from the flowers and tea service, the hostess has invited her neighbors in to deride her physique, for they are exclaiming in unison, "Ugh, my dear--you've got lordosis [unlovely bulge and sagging backline]!" The second photograph, naturally, depicts the miracles wrought by the proper girdle, which, in addition to the benefits promised in the text, seems to have removed the crow's feet from under the subject's eyes, marcelled her hair, reupholstered the divan, and papered the walls."

"If a perfectly strange lady came up to you on the street and demanded, "Why don't you travel with a little raspberry colored cashmere blanket to throw over yourself in hotels and trains?" the chances are that you would turn on your heel with dignity and hit her with a bottle. Yet that is exactly what has been happening for the past twenty months in the pages of a little raspberry-colored magazine called Harper's Bazaar."


"Don't think it does any good to pretend there is no magazine called Harper's Bazaar. I've tried that, too, and all I get is something called "circular insanity." Imagine having both circular insanity, and Harper's Bazaar!"

"Without any preamble came the stinging query, "Why don't you rinse your blonde child's hair in dead champagne, as they do in France? Or pat her face gently with cream before she goes to bed, as they do in England?" After a quick look into the nursery, I decided to let my blonde child go to hell her own way, as they do in America"

"'Why don't you,' continued the author, spitting on her hands, "twist her pigtails around her ears like macaroons?" . . . I slept across the foot of the crib with a loaded horse pistol until the next issue appeared"

"Why don't you try the effect of diamond roses and ribbons flat on your head?" . . . and, as it happened to be my day to go to the post office (ordinarily the post office comes to me), I welcomed this chance to vary the monotony. Piling my head high with diamond roses and ribbons, I pulled on a pair of my stoutest espadrilles and set off, my cat frisking ahead of me with many a warning cry of "Here comes my master, the Marquis of Carabas!" When I walked in [the postmaster] was in process of spitting into the top drawer, where he keeps the money-order blanks. One look at Boxholder 14 and he went out the window without bothering to raise the sash. A second later, I heard a frightened voice directing a small boy to run for the hex doctor next door to the Riegels'. I spent the night behind some willows near the Delaware, and managed to work my way back to the farm without being detected, but it was a matter of months before I was able to convince the countryside that I had a twin brother, enormously wealthy but quite mad, who had eluded his guards and paid me a visit ."

" "Why Don't you build beside the sea, or in the center of your garden, a white summer dining room shaped like a tent, raped with wooden swags, with walls of screen and Venetian blinds, so you will be safe from bugs and drafts?" I recoiled, clawing the air. "No, no!" I screamed "I won't! I can't!"

Do you ever get this feeling leafing through a lifestyle magazine? Or more recently, Pinterest? My God, the more things change.  . .

Unsettled

I've felt a little unsettled all week. Whether its due to a lack of sleep, a recovery from illness, or just the general miserably rainy weather, I've had this constant tingling feeling of something being "wrong". Not terribly wrong like someone died or something, just like there's a discordant note in what has been, of late, an incredibly harmonic existence.

I've been through this before. It doesn't signal a need for a drastic life change or anything like that, but does signify an excess of mental energy, and is accompanied by an insane amount of insecurity and anxiety (which makes me hard to deal with.). It used to be that I would burn through this extra energy by writing, or painting, spilling out all of that mental bile on paper. Now that I'm older, I prefer to drink it away, and relish in the oppressive calm of a hungover morning the next day (what can I say, I got lazy.)

However, being cashless and thereby boozeless, and suffering through a six year bout of creative constipation, none of these options were available to me to rid myself of that oddly anxious, unsettled feeling. So I've grappled with it, and grappled with it, and grappled with it all week, and now I feel like I may finally be in the clear.

Its odd, how, when everything is going right in my world: amazing boyfriend, loving family, good friends, and enough money to get by on, my body has to fabricate a false sense of un-right-ness, just to keep things interesting. Darwin would have a field day.

But, thinking about it, its not just me. Look at celebrities, as a bad and probably unfair example, and their kaleidoscope of frequently self-induced problems. When things go right (money, fame, good looks, lots of work, and a creative outlet)  it seems to be a human trait to generate something wrong to balance it out (addiction, affairs, abuse).

We are a self-flagellating race. Whenever we have something good, we consciously or unconsciously seek something ill to balance it. It is some of the appeal of Christianity, I think. To have an outside force that can grant us forgiveness, thereby ending our own cycles of self-punishment. To have a God who can forgive us, where we ourselves can't.

But when you get down to it, self forgiveness is really what we are looking for. A capacity to accept what is good in our lives, without guilt. Frequently, we are reminded to accept that which we cannot change, usually in reference to what is bad in our lives. But it applies equally to the good. Fully embracing what is good in life, overriding that instinctive sense of unease or malaise that we get when everything is going right is possibly one of those elusive missing puzzle pieces on the (mixed metaphor!) road to happiness.

Or maybe it really is just me, and I should shut up and go take my meds. Either way, feeling better \o/.
Cheers!

Friday, 1 June 2012

S. J. Perelman, Part 1

S. J. Perelman was an American humourist, author, and screenwriter, whose works most frequently appeared in The New Yorker, and who was most famous for his scripts for the Marx Brother films. I just discovered this dude today, and intrigued, I took "The Best of S. J. Perelman" out of the library to read.

Omg, this guy is too funny. Rather than wax literary about *why* exactly he's funny, I think I am just going to throw down a few of the insanely random quotes that really make me giggle as I go along.

"She had the rippling muscles of a panther, the stolidity of a water buffalo, the lazy insolence of a shoe salesman. . ..as she bent down to lift her suitcase, she picked up the car by mistake and had it halfway down the slope before I pointed out her mistake."

"That Philomene was a manic-depressive in the downhill phase was, of course, instantly apparent to a boy of five Several boys of five, who happened to be standing aroud and were by way of being students of psychopathology, stated their belief to me in just those words"

"She was as dead as a stuffed mongoose"

" 'Soda?' offered Snubbers. I took it to please him, for Gabriel's cellar was reputedly excellent. A second later, I wished that I had drunk the cellar instead. Baking soda is hardly the thing after a three-hour bicycle trip"

"The outcome of the necking bee was as follows: Canadians 12, Visitors 6."

"Living almost entirely on cameo brooches and the few ptarmigan which fell to the ptrigger of his pfowlingpiece."

"If I ever see a postman trudging toward my house with a copy of the American Bee Journal, I'm going to lodge myself in the dead-air space between the walls, and no amount of small boys smeared with honey will ever get me out."