Monday, 30 July 2012

Your brain is not a penis, quit jerking it off.

Rant time! I know how fun it can be to get lost in one's own mental catacombs. Digging up treasures, expending large amounts of mental energy to formulate some sort of a mental structure whereby you believe the universe and all in it operates. 

But, no matter how fun it is, how productive it may feel, it is important to remember that thought does not make reality. No matter how hard you think, and how sure you are that you've got the whole universe figured out and lying prone at your feet, back in reality where people have to work to put bread in their mouths, all you've really accomplished is a whole lot of mental masturbation. Thought, while it is an important component in grounding ourselves in our human realities, when taken too far, can have the opposite effect, transforming what might be useful members of society into abstract philosophers who have their heads so far up their asses they are mistaking their stomachs for an ultimate Truth. 

In the end, your brain is not a penis. There are more flattering ways to use it than mentally jerking off and having your own psychic cum dribbling down your face. 

/ end rant. 

Sunday, 29 July 2012

Angel's Lament

The really creepy thing? This is a fractal manipulated out of Hebrew script. Pure accident it came out looking like this. 

Friday, 27 July 2012

Manchester tart

Two cooking experiments today, the Manchester tart, and the Cornish potato cake. The tart turned out pretty good, considering how complex it was. The potato cake, I botched. Go figure. Anyway, here's the recipe for the tart:


225g plain flour 

100g margarine 

25g sugar 

30ml cold water (approx.)  
Jar of jam 
1-3 bananas (depending on your preference) 
Dessicated coconut (or grated chocolate - optional)
Handy Hint
Grated chocolate can be used instead of coconut but don't put it on while the custard is warm!
For the pastry: 
1. Preheat oven to 190C (gas mark 5.) 
2. Mix flour and sugar, rub in fat. 
3. Mix with cold water using a knife to cut and stir to form a dough. 
4. Knead dough lightly on a floured surface. 
5. Roll out and put in a flan tin. 
6. Place a circle of greaseproof paper over the bottom of the tart and sprinkle a layer of rice or dried beans on top to prevent it rising (don't put it directly on the pastry!). 
7. Bake for 20 mins, remove the rice/beans and paper, return for 5 more minutes until crisp and golden. 
8. Allow to cool. 

For the Custard:
4 egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar
1 Tbsp unbleached white flour
2 cup milk
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
grated rind of 1/2 lemon


This egg custard recipe makes approximately 2 cups of custard.
Separate the egg yolks. Place yolks and sugar in medium saucepan and lightly whisk together. Using a wooden spoon, continue stirring and add the flour. Set aside.In a medium sauce pan, pour the milk, vanilla extract and grated lemon rind. Bring to a boil and remove from heat. Strain the hot milk mixture gradually into the pan with the egg and sugar mixture, stirring while you pour. Place the pan on stove and heat to a simmer, careful not to boil. Stir constantly for about 5 minutes.
Remove and allow to cool for a few minutes. As the custard cools, stir occasionally to prevent a skin from forming on top. Once cooled, chill in refrigerator until ready to use.

For the filling: 
9. Make up custard according to instructions but missing out some liquid to make it thick, leave to cool slightly. 
10. Dollop jam into the pastry case and spread around evenly. 
11. Slice bananas and arrange on top of jam. 
12. Pour partially cooled custard on top of the jam and bananas. 
13. Sprinkle dessicated coconut on top of custard if liked. 
14. Leave to set in fridge.

Duct Tape Rose

Home sick from work today. Decided to nap, read, and be a little crafty until this killer headache leaves me alone. Here's what I made:

That's right, ladies and gents, a fabulous duct tape rose. 

. . .to put in your hair!

Roll of duct tape
Two bobby pins. 


I modified the instructions from For basic instructions, go there. Below are my modifications:

1) I used a bobby pin instead of wire. I began wrapping the petals over the open end of the pin, leaving the closed end as a loop. 

2) I made my petals more sloppy, not always with an even point, often using jagged squares, which I felt lent greater authenticity to the "petal" shapes. You know, because roses are obviously silver.

3) I folded down some of the outer petals at the end

4) Finally, once the rose looked rose-ish enough, I used a thin strip of tape to wrap around the bottom edge of the petals, keeping them bent open, and around part of the hair pin.

5) THEN, I hooked the second hair pin through the loop of the first, which holds the rose in place in ur hairs. 

\o/ and now we all know why I don't make things very often. Happy Friday! 

Wednesday, 25 July 2012


File this under "new things I learned about today that I'm writing down in order to remember". Did some reading on the Tahltan aboriginals, a small tribe with their own dialect of Athabascan hailing from the Stikine River watershed in British Columbia.

Tahltan Yesterday

Tahltan Today
Reasons to like the Tahltan:

* Having your own language that hasn't completely died out when you're a tribe of only 2000 strong is no mean feat.

* They are made up of the Crow clan, and the Wolf clan (how cool is that)

* They are a matriarchal society (as many western tribes tend to be). Viva la matriarchy! 

* They were making tools from obsidian 10, 000 years ago. 

*They have been singlehandedly preventing the apocalypse since 2005 by guarding the roads leading to the headwaters of the Nass, Skeena, and Stikine rivers, which they view as the "sacred headwaters" from which all life originates. In all seriousness, the area is scouted as the spot for a coalbed methane mining project, which would greatly damage the environment in the area, so whether it means the apocalypse or no, it is good that *someone* is protecting this from happening. 

*They're musical! As you can see in the photo above, taken from here. Apparently, the area is known as "little Nashville" because everyone makes music in some way.

So, Tahltan. What's not to love? 

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

How well do you know Canada?

Because I was curious, I gathered aerial photographs of every province. Obviously, not all photos are representative of the whole province, but here is what I found. See if you can guess which ones are which. Highlight caption for answers!

New Brunswick


British Columbia


North West Territories





Nova Scotia

Newfoundland Labrador



Anything Maslow can do I can do better . . .

. . . well no, not really. But its lunchtime, and I'm in a childishly optimistic sort of mood, so here is my own hierarchy of needs, or rather, the building blocks I think I need to become more like my "ideal self"

Like a video game, you need to achieve one level to get to the next. Incomplete levels (missing blocks) = unsteady structure. Right now, I'm still stuck on building up the foundational level. Lawd help me.

Sunday, 22 July 2012

Shakespeare in the Park

I had my first real theatre experience in Montreal last night. Sadly, I neglected to take pictures. I did take a picture of the program which I intended to post with this post, but sadly, I also neglected to recharge the battery after leaving the thing on for a couple hours the other day. Ooops.

So, my commentary will have to suffice, without any sort of visuals.

Shakespeare in the park is a tradition that happens in many parks all over the world. Happily, it is also a tradition in my own backyard park in Westmount, as I found out upon my return from Austin. On offer this year was The Taming of the Shrew, a play I've seen once, but had never read, so I will be unable to comment on the faithfulness to the script, though I do know they cleverly cut it short when it began to rain towards the end of the second half.

The stage was simple (as outdoor stages must be) but effective, and well lent to the humorous nature of the play, with a hole in the center of the stage frequently being used to garner laughs from the audience, and also as an effective portal for quick entries and exits. Props were minimal, but also put to good use. For those of you unfamiliar, Shrew is one of the comedies, which, of course, means everyone winds up married by the end. Spoilers! Not really.

The costumes were a bizarre, vibrant mix of time periods, which might best be described as a thrift store raid, ranging from a 1920's-esque smoking jacket, to the country home uniform of an English gentleman (tweed cap, scarf, macintosh) to a full on baby blue disco suit, worn by the incredibly lanky Petruchio (take a moment, and picture it please, baby blue disco pants on four and a half foot long freaking legs).

Casting was excellent, with actors being well physically matched to their characters (caricatures?). Hortensio, Bianca's long time suitor, who also happens to be something of a fool, was played by an adorably short redhead by the name of Stephen Joffe. This in contrast to Petruchio, Bianca's sister Kate's husband and "tamer", who was, as I said, absurdly tall, which perfectly matched the absurd, witty, over the top nature of the character. The actor, Alex McCooeye, definitely knew how to make good use of his lanky body to best comedic effect. Think Jack Skellington or Watanuki from XXXholic.  Kate, the shrew herself, was also well cast, a bundle of sex and sass (and the actress hailed from Saskatchewan!). The play also did a new take on the character of Bianca, which I appreciated. The "humble" "beautiful" maid was also something of a spoiled brat, and absolutely flip. Very much a stereotypical "baby of  the family". 

Although the play was almost painfully over the top at first, which made me a little uncomfortable, once I got into it, I found that the over-the-top-ness was actually incredibly well-suited to the Shakespearean comedy. The extravagance of the acting made the wordplay much easier to follow, and much more enjoyable. The extra "modern" jokes thrown in (like Hortensio strumming a broken ukulele and singing "O bianca, thou breakest my heart, thou shakest mine confidence daily" after the fashion of Simon and Garfunkel)  added to the essence of the Shakespearean play rather than took away from it. I felt like the actors had opportunity to put a lot of themselves and their own humor into the characters, and it came off very nicely. Petruchio's servant Curtis was especially well done in this regard.

 Too frequently, Shakespeare is taken too seriously, and we forget the nature of the audience he would initially have been catering to. These would have been the largely uneducated masses, who only came for a good laugh and a good time. This production of Taming of the Shrew truly got back to that essence of the Shakespearean comedy.

I would also like to applaud the actors, as they are currently halfway through an absolutely grueling  schedule of performances, beginning on July 19th and continuing through August 19th, with stagings occurring in parks all over Montreal. This is an incredibly high energy show, with women being tossed around like sacks of flour, dancing, singing, and a whole lot of screaming. Already the wear was starting to show a bit in their voices, so I wish them luck in powering through the next couple weeks of performances.

Overall, well done. I am hoping to start following the Repercussion Theatre company more closely, as I have been somewhat starved for theatre since coming to Montreal, and this has just served to whet rather than sate my appetite.

Saturday, 21 July 2012

Me Reading "The Gunslingers Invitation"

Because I realize some people "get" poetry better when it is read aloud, here it is, read aloud. Also, I was bored. Apologies for the dead space at the end. That was courtesy of my sweaty hands negotiating my touchpad.

The Gunslinger's Invitation

I have seen into the belly of the beast
and it is ugly 

I am Charon.
The el train from hell
is the ferry, midworld
 the river Styx
(and we are crossing it
fast, fast, so incredibly fast)
Flash fire on the tracks
ozone and brimstone.
There is char on
the el train from hell. 
Welcome home, love.

I have seen into the belly of the beast
and it is hungry 

This is the same 
rotting world
I brought you to before.
Before the cracks
had widened
Before their tricks
had started devils dancing
in your mind
Midworld is the river
and this is hell.
Welcome home, love. 

I have put paid to the beast
twin guns roaring thunder
in the mountains
on the plains
in the desert
on sandy beaches
in the forest
on your world
in my mind
on your conscience
in good time
I have put paid to the beast
but it will not die.

You do not need
to give me gold
All I need 
is your soul. 
We will cross the river Styx
Ozone and brimstone
speed on
the el train from hell
towards that black
Welcome home, love. 

Thursday, 19 July 2012


Colcannon is a painfully Irish dish involving potatoes, cabbage (or kale), green onions (or leeks), mounds of butter, and sometimes milk. It is essentially a tasty variation on mashed potatoes, and after skimming a few recipes, this is the one I settled on (and only $5 for the veggie ingredients, say thankya).


*An Irish number of potatoes. Now, remember there was a famine. Most recipes call for a pound of potatoes, but in honor of the famine, I settled for two large ones.

*An Irish amount of cabbage: about half a head (the other half of the Irish head is typically reserved and  filled with whiskey)

* An Irish amount of butter: That's a lot of butter, folks

*An Irish amount of green onions. Okay, I cheated here. I really like green onions, so I chopped up two stalks. The Irish like it bland, but I don't.


Boil dem potaties, then add in your cabbage just as the potaties are about done, so it all gets about finished at the same time. Drain out the water and mash up the potaties and the cabbage with a whole lot of butter until you have something the consistency of mashed potatoes. Once this is done, mix in the minced green onions. Serve with a melted butter-filled hollow of deliciousness in the middle.

Tuesday, 17 July 2012


After a hectic few days trying to get my affairs in order after getting back into the country following a fabulous two weeks with the man of my dreams (gag all you want, but I'm entitled to my occasional PDA), I thought it might be nice to post  a few images of tranquility, one I just GIMPed up, and the others from the aforementioned trip.

Without further ado, things that strike me as tranquil:

saskatchewan skies


cat butts

wild roses

silver willow


brown eyed susans (my favorite wildflower)



country lanes

big rocks



texas sky

pretty flowers


Monday, 9 July 2012

Food Fever

Having spent the day marathon watching Hell's Kitchen, I find myself wondering why I am so attracted to this show, and other "reality" cooking shows, when I have such a deep pre-existing hatred for reality television at large.

I think the reason I enjoy it so much is pretty straightforward. Its not because I think Gordon Ramsey is cool (though I think he is), its not because I find watching a group of poorly matched people flap around in a series of increasingly ridiculous petty arguments funny (though I do) and its not because I find it amusing that these experienced chefs cant seem to bend their heads around a risotto (lol). No, I think the real reason I am so bizarrely in love with this kind of show is plain and simple: I like food. 

Moreover, I like cooking food. These cooking competition shows, moreso than ordinary "this is how you cook dish A, B, and C" shows make the culinary arts seem absolutely achievable. I mean, if these clueless assholes can manage to put together beautiful, elegant, tasty dishes worthy of Gordon Ramsey (in between not being able to cook scallops and fucking up steaks), maybe there is hope for me. 

I love the little mini-competitions where the contestants must figure out how to put together an appealing dish with a set of totally random ingredients. Its sorta inspiring, for anyone who has ever had to deal with a fridgeful of mismatched foods. 

Good books, good movies, good television, makes you feel something. Shows like Hell's Kitchen successfully make you feel hungry, excited about cooking, and innately superior to the cast of dipshits they inevitably get to compete on these shows. And it is good. 

I think I might have just hit on the appeal of reality television in general. Making us feel better about ourselves through the folly of others. Human beings are terrible . . .


Wednesday, 4 July 2012

The Hollow Men

Sharing with you one of my favorite poems, which I just re-read for the first time in a year. If you hadn't guessed, I'm a massive T.S. Eliot fan. I am so very in love with the depth of his imagery, the breadth of the references he makes, and the sometimes harsh brutality of his language. Eliot's poetry (contrary to how we typically think of poetry, I think), is a cold hard smack in the face, forcing us to look honestly at our own human flaws through the lens of metaphor. The Hollow Men is, for me, a poem about the rampant loss of affect and meaning in the modern era. The speaker, who speaks for all of us, seems caught in the grip of a bone-chilling nightmare state, where he realizes the nothingness of his own existence and yearns for something more, some deeper feeling or meaning. However, he cannot possibly put up a fight against the encroaching forces of ennui, forces so strong they have turned society towards the dystopian. Ultimately, he folds ending "not with a bang, but with a whimper" . . . probably one of the most famous lines from a poem ever, oft quoted but rarely read within the context of the larger text. So here it is, the larger text. Now read it. Nyah! 

Mistah Kurtz-he dead
            A penny for the Old Guy


    We are the hollow men
    We are the stuffed men
    Leaning together
    Headpiece filled with straw. Alas!
    Our dried voices, when
    We whisper together
    Are quiet and meaningless
    As wind in dry grass
    Or rats' feet over broken glass
    In our dry cellar
    Shape without form, shade without colour,
    Paralysed force, gesture without motion;
    Those who have crossed
    With direct eyes, to death's other Kingdom
    Remember us-if at all-not as lost
    Violent souls, but only
    As the hollow men
    The stuffed men.


    Eyes I dare not meet in dreams
    In death's dream kingdom
    These do not appear:
    There, the eyes are
    Sunlight on a broken column
    There, is a tree swinging
    And voices are
    In the wind's singing
    More distant and more solemn
    Than a fading star.
    Let me be no nearer
    In death's dream kingdom
    Let me also wear
    Such deliberate disguises
    Rat's coat, crowskin, crossed staves
    In a field
    Behaving as the wind behaves
    No nearer-
    Not that final meeting
    In the twilight kingdom


    This is the dead land
    This is cactus land
    Here the stone images
    Are raised, here they receive
    The supplication of a dead man's hand
    Under the twinkle of a fading star.
    Is it like this
    In death's other kingdom
    Waking alone
    At the hour when we are
    Trembling with tenderness
    Lips that would kiss
    Form prayers to broken stone.


    The eyes are not here
    There are no eyes here
    In this valley of dying stars
    In this hollow valley
    This broken jaw of our lost kingdoms
    In this last of meeting places
    We grope together
    And avoid speech
    Gathered on this beach of the tumid river
    Sightless, unless
    The eyes reappear
    As the perpetual star
    Multifoliate rose
    Of death's twilight kingdom
    The hope only
    Of empty men.


    Here we go round the prickly pear
    Prickly pear prickly pear
    Here we go round the prickly pear
    At five o'clock in the morning.

    Between the idea
    And the reality
    Between the motion
    And the act
    Falls the Shadow
                                   For Thine is the Kingdom
    Between the conception
    And the creation
    Between the emotion
    And the response
    Falls the Shadow
                                   Life is very long
    Between the desire
    And the spasm
    Between the potency
    And the existence
    Between the essence
    And the descent
    Falls the Shadow
                                   For Thine is the Kingdom
    For Thine is
    Life is
    For Thine is the
    This is the way the world ends
    This is the way the world ends
    This is the way the world ends
    Not with a bang but a whimper.