Your hero and mine, Mr. Ben Boudreau, has just informed me that I have won something cheap, and, no doubt, delightful by commenting on his blog.
I am a pro at winning things, a weird innate ability that traces itself back to grade four where I actually won one of those "guess the number of jelly beans in a jar" things by using some form of Beautiful Mind-esque arithmetic. It's not luck, I tell you, it's a skill.
In accordance with the rules, I'm going to offer you this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity... three commenters on this post will be selected at random to win cheap and possibly hilarious prizes. But be warned, all yea who comment here: should you win, you too must be burdened with the task of awarding your commenters. The deadline for commenting is this Saturday at noon.
I usually get, at most, three-ish comments on my posts. So you three, your chances are lookin' good!
Wednesday, April 30, 2008
(For ten points, guess the identity of the young man in this photo!)
On the heels of misadventure, we fired off, our ascent of groans and creaks punctuated by a crank radio sputtering Roy Orbison. It was nighttime and we were pickled; this was no time to fly. But the Cessna was there. You found the can of fuel and I saw the keys dangling from the ignition. These moments in life cannot be ignored, and so we gave into God and got in the plane.
“Are we in the air?” I asked, nonchalant in the midst of my terror.
“I don’t know, I guess so,” You replied. “I don’t feel the bumps of the road anymore. Hard to tell in the dark.”
We’re flying but the fun is lost in the dim light of early evening. No mountains, no desert, no farms, no ocean; all views collapse under dusk.
Orbison faded into tears, and the announcer chimes in with ads for cola and a big dance that was happening tonight at the community hall in
“What are you doing? We’ve only been up here a minute!”
“I’m gettin’ bored,” you sighed. “There’s nothing to do up here but go in circles, and we don’t even get to see anything. C’mon, we’re going to the dance.”
At that moment the airplane bounced off the runway and my neck whips forward, sending my face crashing against the window. You let off the gas and we putter to a stop well past the road, all the way into the middle of a field. Ripe ears of corn are thumping against the plane. Some explode into a burst of yellow kernels raining down into the dirt. The plane stops. The field smells slightly sweet, with an earthy undertone of wet husks. An owl screeches overhead. We breathe in the rich air and quiver.The quiet moment passes all too quickly as my head starts throbbing and I feel a slow burn pass over my temple. I probe it with my fingers and sense the beginning of a nasty bruise. No way to start out an evening that I'm starting to figure will now involve hunting down the neighbourhood girls.
“They never should’ve taught you how to fly that thing,” I whine as you stuff your backpack full of corn. “Now look what you’ve done.”
“What we’ve done,” you reply. “And we ain’t done nothing yet. Hurry up, we’re going to your place. I need to borrow a suit."
Monday, April 28, 2008
I've been busy, folks. Work is picking up again as we head into the summer events season, and now that school is out, friends are slowly making up for lost time and, gasp, doing things.
On Saturday I missed the Farmer's Market, as my normally evil cat, Mia, decided to let me sleep in. Her new favourite thing to do is to get under the covers with me with just her head sticking out, lay on her side as we humans do. It is cute and unsettling at the same time, as I am convinced she was once buried in a pet [sic] sematary.
To make up for missing this market, Andrew and I hit the Halifax Crafters Market at the North Street Church. Hanging out with Andrew on a Saturday never happens (thanks, Dal Tech), so this was definitely a treat. The big draw me at this market was Orphanage Clothing... I've been missing checking out these reconstructed t-shirts since Junk & Foibles shut down. Also featured was Osha Mae Soaps, who I think is usually set up at the Dartmouth Farmers Market. Her tea-tree oil soap has saved my skin too many times to count. The rest of the sellers were new to me, and sold just about everything. Clothes for kids and adults, jewelery, pottery, photography, paintings, food, and other "crafty" wares were all at my fingertips. I left with a unique broach and a mouthful of fudge.
After leaving the craft market, we delved further into the North End. After perusing a very smelly Frenchy's on Robie Street (I love a good bargain bin, but this place was RANK), Andrew and I had an awesome dinner at Mary's Place. I've heard such good things about this place, it was impossible not to stop. Their sweet potato fries were damn near perfection, and thinking of my sandwich right now is making my mouth water. Serves me right for writing about food on my lunch break.
For some reason, after dinner we felt compelled to check out an army/navy surplus store, which was terrifying. Some bearded-dude spent the entire time talking about his knife collection, and his tendency to break his knives. Doing what, je ne sais pas---I was out of there before his conversation turned even scarier.
On the way back downtown, we stopped off at Lost & Found on Agricola, which just might be the place to fill my J&F void. In about five minutes spent rummaging, I found a Battlestar Galactica bag, two Bela Lugosi movies, earrings made of guitar picks, and a Yogi Bear lamp. These things just don't happen!
Feeling full of energy after being saturated in the weird and vintage, I made Andrew and his busted knee climb up Citadel Hill. Once arriving at the top, I noticed that there was a door open. My energetic disposition switched to one of mischief-making as I dragged the boyfriend about the obviously closed-to-the-public historic site, muttering random archives-fueled facts, like "The Maroons built this place!" and "The Duke of Kent liked round things!"
After narrowly avoiding being locked in the park overnight (I think it would be like From the Mixed up Files of Mrs. Basil E Frankweiler except colder and MAYBE haunted), we relaxed at my apartment with some Sabrina for mere minutes before heading to Windsor Street for what would prove to be a legendary night.
Being a self-professed wino, the B.Eng and I brought three bottles of wine between us to the kegger. We were fed delicious homemade cake (Jenn is awesome) watched spagetti westerns, and were given advice on where to go in Amsterdam. I took part in a massive group post-it-graffiti effort, which desecrated many a photo on Adam's wall.
After being at the kegger for a few hours, I received a phonecall from Joe and Brent, two friends I see maybe two or three times every couple of years. They told Andrew and myself that we had to come with them, no questions, and that they'd handle cover and drinks. Unsurprisingly we accepted and were chauffeured to the Bitter End where many a martini was consumed by the four of us plus Lindsay, who was celebrating her birthday. Little did we know, that Brent, her boyfriend, had concocted a mighty scheme that outdid all plans I had ever executed. This thing was airtight.
Brent and Joe had put together a MASSIVE pirate-themed scavenger in Point Pleasant Park. Armed with plastic swords and skull-and-crossbone pins, we followed maps that led us to a key, a treasure chest filled with food and drink, secret packages, and at the end, a lovely birthday gift for Lindsay. I still cannot believe this thing was orchestrated at midnight by the light of a cellphone. I can now say I've been to Martello Tower, where the hunt ended, although it was at night so I didn't see it due to it being DARK and SCARY. Actually, to be fair, it looked pretty darn scary in the daytime, according to Google Images. Very Tolkein-geekesque.
We spent nearly an hour and a half being foolish and hilarious in the park before I gave in to my hypothermia and went home at around 1:30 am. Serves me right for not bringing a jacket.
Next weekend folks are gettin' married and I'm planning a Sideways night. Hopefully events develop into epic adventures like this past weekend did. If not, I'm still cool with relaxing to the dulcet tones of your friend and mine, Paul Giamatti.
Thursday, April 24, 2008
Food, wine, and good company make for a great evening. What's even better is when the "good company" consists of experts in public relations, marketing, and technology who are excited to share their ideas and opinions with you. No, this wasn't Toronto, Montreal, or Vancouver---Halifax has had its first social media meet-up.
Organized by Ben Boudreau and Carman Pirie, this event brought together students, professionals, freelancers, technology experts, and many others who can be found blogging, podcasting, and tweeting, among other things. I must mention that the BPR crowd was well represented. Hopefully next time more MSVU alum (and maybe a few staff members) can make it out!
I entered the evening armed with a few web-savvy friends and a stack of business cards. I left with even more business cards, some fresh ideas, and a smile on my face. I was fortunate enough to meet Nova Scotians working in areas that interest me both personally and professionally. Ryan Deschamps was the guest speaker this evening, and spoke of his work with Halifax Regional Libraries. I'm hoping to pick his brain in the future, as archives and libraries hold a lot of common ground.
Colour was very well represented this evening, and I recognized a few people who I might have passed by at the TIANS conference or the World Trade and Convention Centre. Colour graciously picked up the tab for munchies, and announced that this event will hopefully be a monthly occurrence. MT&L was represented by Laurel, and Revolve had a presence as well. The diversity of the other attendees was astonishing... all sectors were present, from nonprofits, to government (well, I think just me!), small business, education, and the corporate all mingled and shared their thoughts.
I must state again how pleasant it was to meet such an intelligent, like-minded group of people. I left the evening feeling quite inspired, and plan on blogging more often---for real. It is a rare thing that I learn so much with a glass of sauvignon blanc in my hand. Thank-you, again to Ben for organizing this event and letting me know about it. Food, wine, good company, and social media... all the makings of a great evening.
Wednesday, April 23, 2008
So far in this glorious year of the potato, I have read:
- Atonement aka Kill Me Now
- Hungry Planet
- Holy Cow!
- Sophie's World
- The Stand
- Down and Out in Paris and London
- The Demon-Haunted World
- Tom Cruise: An Unauthorized Biography aka "lol $cientology xenu.net"
- Not Wanted on the Voyage
- What's Eating Gilbert Grape
- Johnathon Strange and Mr. Norrell
- The Anarchist's Cookbook
- Lullabies for Little Criminals
- The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle
- Skinny Legs and All
- Breakfast at Tiffany's
- That Extra Half an Inch: Hair, Heels and Everything In Between
- The Mountain and the Valley
- Half-Asleep in Frog Pajamas
- Rat Catching
- The Trial of Henry Kissinger
- American Gods
- Kafta by the Shore
- The Nova Scotia Books of Days
Tuesday, April 22, 2008
The title "bookish" is often applied to me, and I accept it with great pride. I've worked in two bookstores (one an awesome, second-hand place in Dartmouth, the other a fun maritime-themed joint in historic properties) and have a degree that made sure I took my share of English classes.
I used to read voraciously because, well, I had unlimited books at my disposal, be it at work or through school. I look back fondly at my Dartmouth bookstore days, where I discovered great authors like Kurt Vonnegut, Ray Bradbury, Jack Kerouac, and Manuel Puig. During the almost two years I worked there, my days, aside from shelving and pricing books, consisted of hunkering down with something awesome to read and talking with customers about their favourite authors and novels. Besides sometimes weirdos and the secret stash of VHS porn---remnants of the days when there was an adult section---that was kept in the bathroom (why they didn't just throw it out, je ne sais pas) it was a wonderful place to work.
This past summer was my introduction to tourism in Nova Scotia through Carrefour Atlantic Emporium, an eclectic shop that sold everything from soapstone carvings, to locally made toys, and of course, lots of books. Previous to working there, my experience with local authors was limited to Lesley Choyce, Farley Mowat, and Allistair MacLeod. At Carrefour I was told that I could sell books better if I read them... and so I did. Here I was introduced to many great Atlantic Canadian authors that I would have otherwise missed out on. Joan Clark, Wayne Johnston, Aimee McKay, George Elliot Clarke, Ann-Marie MacDonald, Frank Parker Day, Stephen Kimber, and Frank MacDonald now all grace my bookshelf. East Coast authors tend to be a little gritty, sometimes depressing, but hold lot of pride. The Cape Breton novel is a little different, as most that I have read tend to deal with escaping from a working-class, rural lifestyle, thrown in with either fishing or coal-mining. The pride is there, but it's muted. I still miss recommending books to tourists, knowing that they too will have to read the story where a son finds his father's corpse in the Atlantic, and discovers, somehow, that fish have eaten his testicles.
After the several years of reading a book every few weeks, I fell into a time of laziness and re-reads. In order to combat this terrible slump (during which I read, ugh, Atonement) I've just, informally, joined a book club. The first meeting is tonight, and although I have to cram almost 100 pages of reading when I get home this afternoon, I'm still quite excited. In school, I was always the nerd who got excited about book reports, and vehemently tried to track down those with the same tastes in lit.
The book we are reading is called Blindness and is written by Portuguese author José Saramago. This novel won Saramago the Nobel Prize for literature. Without giving anything away, I'll say that it is beautifully written with the ability to scare you through both the dark side of human (small p) politics, and the fear of epidemics. I'm starting to get a Lord of the Flies feeling, but it hasn't been fully realized yet. I'm eager to read more, and for once, am not skimming at all. That in itself is a feat.
I'm currently keeping track of my film-consumption here, and am going to start doing that same with books. I love book recommendations, so please give me a shout if you think I'd like something! I'm not a genre nazi, so anything goes!
Tuesday, April 08, 2008
It's less than two months until I board a plan for Frankfurt, and the B.Eng (as of May 28th) and I have been stepping up in our planning. We've got all of our hostels booked, and none of them seem to threaten us with gratuitous nudity, death, or really bad writer/directors.
First stop is Amsterdam, where we've got two options in terms of sleeping arrangements. One is what I have been lovingly referring to as "Chateau Alex", as our friend currently lives in Amsterdam while he finishes his insane masters degree that I *think* has something to do with artificial intelligence. Right now, Alex in is Uganda visiting his equally brainy girlfriend (this couple is smart and well-travelled, yo), so we've booked a place as a back-up plan.
Lucky Lake Hostel seems like the most likely place that we'll meet our demise, as the name constantly reminds us of Camp Crystal Lake. If we dodge a homicidal Dutch mom and her clog-wearing, rosy-cheeked son, then we'll be staying just outside of Amsterdam in... caravans. These little rooms are are touted as trailers "that people in Europe put behind their car and travel with." So not regular, North American trailers... the European kind. The ghetto Dartmouth girl in me (I call her Tiffanee) is pleased.
The draw for non-ghetto me was a) not sleeping in a room with strangers and b) not staying downtown in a hostel where theft/insanity is more prevalent. And heck, there's a lake you can swim in if the urge strikes you, a bunch of outdoor barbecues, and a giant hammock. I'm so there.
Onto Paris, where Andrew convinced me that we must stay in the land of Amélie, Montmartre. Awesome things within walking distance of our hostel, Le Village, include: Basilique du Sacré-Cœur, Moulin Rouge, and former hang-outs for artists and writers such as Pablo Picasso, Vincent van Gogh, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, and Langston Hughes.
Probably the worst hostel website for this trip is that of the Pensione Ottaviano in Rome. But, heck... the thing is that the place is about thirty seconds away from the the Vatican. Like, THE Vatican! You can see the dome of the St. Peter's from your window! That is just NUTS! There are some sketchy details surrounding the place (like, how you're not allowed to stay there if you're over 40 or have kids under the age of 13), but the price and location should make up for it.
The hostel we're staying at in Venice seems kind of magical as it's on an ISLAND that will give you BICYCLES if you feel like exploring. The hostel, Il Lato Azzurro, is more like a cultural centre which different groups can rent for retreats and workshops. They offer fair-trade breakfasts, a chef whose specialty is couscous, and WINE. Sold.
One thing we didn't know going into this trip was that the European Cup (Soccer) is being held this year in Austria during the same time as our visit (BTW: if asked, what country should I say I support?). We were basically doomed before we knew it, as hostels were booked MONTHS ahead of time in places like Innsbruck, where we very much wanted to visit but now have to skip. Instead, we're sticking to Vienna, where the risk of death by soccer-riot isn't as large. The Wombat Hostels there have a great reputation and offer nice extras like drink vouchers to the womBar and an all-you-can-eat breakfast buffet.
Frankfurt is where I bid adieu (or auf wiedersehen) to my red-headed companion, as he heads to parts unknown (okay, kind of known---Switzerland, Spain, and Morocco are some of his destinations). The hostel there seems pretty cool, but seeing as we're there for such a short time, I don't think we'll get to really "experience" Germany that well. That'll be another trip.
With accomodations out of the way, the fun really begins: what the heck are we going to do in these fabulous cities? If you have any recommendations for places to do and things to do, please tell me! I have a lot of ideas for Paris and Rome, but would love suggestions for the other cities, or we might end up wandering Before Sunrise style. Dangerous, as I am no Julie Delphy.