31 December 2011

Happy New Year's Eve

Crap! I've got less than 9 hours to come up with my resolutions. Um, I'm drawing a blank. I've already reached Captain Hammer-levels of perfection. What else can I do to improve?

30 December 2011

I didn't sleep last night, and this seemingly city-wide alarm at 1:30am is just one reason (you might need to up the volume):

The upside is that I found this video. It's Christmas-themed, but Downton Abbey fans will forgive me. The rest of you won't appreciate it as much.

While we're on the topic of Materpiece Theatre, their winter schedule is looking good. New Sherlock! New Dickens adaptation with Gillian Anderson! 2012 is looking up my friends.

27 December 2011

Not-so-merry post-Christmas depression

It's all over. No more Christmas.

The Bailey's and candy canes are all gone, so now we must fill that void with 43-inch hi-def 3D TVs.

25 December 2011

Merry Christmas!

This is the best gift I got this year. If you can't read it, it says "She wears glasses", "Nice", "Playful","Pretty", and "Smart".

24 December 2011

Chances of me becoming alcoholic just got smaller.

It started off a lunch time like any other. I was browsing the internet, this particular day I was looking at recipes. I would never actually make any of them, but it's fun to pretend I'm the kind of person who would make her own seitan just to make seitan medallions smothered in wild mushroom sauce. Anyway, I came across an article on wine and read it. It was a life-changing moment. Or, at least, life-complicating.

Apparently the production process for wine, beer, and liquor often involves animal products and by-products. Things like gelatin, eggs, and something called isinglass can all be used in wine and/or beer. Now, as a lacto-ovo vegetarian I'm not overly perturbed by egg or milk ingredients in my drinks (so I can still drink Baileys), but I would be concerned about gelatin or things made from animals. Some companies say these things are used, but then filtered out, so the final product doesn't actually contain gelatin, for example. But does that matter, really? It was used to make the product, and I know that (now), so I shouldn't drink it. I mean, if the tofu production process involved the use of animal meat that was later removed, I totally wouldn't eat it, you know?

Isinglass, I was mortified to find out,

23 December 2011

Vast wasteland

I was watching this little video clip of Santa flying around the world last year (well, it was a video of Santa flying around the world's landmarks, but presumably he stopped at some residences along the way). At the end, (around 1:16) he flies around what I'm pretty sure is the CN tower. In the background is not Lake Ontario, or the city of Toronto, but a vast, snow-covered expanse of nothing. Is that really how they think of Canada? One tall iconic building sitting in the middle of a flat, snowy wasteland? Or did they just run out of money for the animation and couldn't afford to give Toronto buildings?


Winter's here. And she brought snow. I say, we let her stay until she becomes tiresome.

22 December 2011

“You can’t hit the carolers.” ~ Mom: She may be crazy, but sometimes she’s right.

Once upon a time, I don’t know how old I was, it was Christmas Eve and my family was sitting at home after church. Chances are us kids were desperately begging to open just one present (for all her permissive tendencies, my mom was really strict about the no-presents-before-Christmas-morning rule), and to distract us mom suggested we watch a movie. What movie, we asked. Why, a Christmas movie, of course. I think we had a few Christmas-y things to choose from. In the end, we watched Die Hard. Mom’s argument being that a) it has the song Let It Snow in it, and b) it takes place on Christmas Eve.  Now, we don’t watch Die Hard every Christmas, sometimes we watch Gone with the Wind, or White Christmas. But it is, by our standards, a Christmas movie. This fact is usually looked upon oddly by some people who don’t regard it as such. All I have to say to them is: stop this unending war on Christmas!
"Now I have a machine gun. Ho-ho-ho."
This year we’ve been vindicated in our thinking by four separate sources that also consider Die Hard not just a Christmas movie, but a Christmas action classic! My sources are:
Sir Sandford Fleming didn't invent standardised time zones just so you can flout them all willy-nilly Oz!

18 December 2011

Shamelessly Good Timing

My Scotiabank branch has a sign in the window, an official sign by the looks of it (that is, not hand written or just done up in powerpoint) that says:

"Did you recently receive severance pay from the federal government?"

It's politely worded and all, but it might as well say "Did you loose your job, you big loser? Looks like your public sector job wasn't so great after all. Serves you right for taking 40-minute coffee breaks every day. Jerk." I mean, this sign was up before some federal departments even handed out notices to their employees. I assume it was done to take advantage of the vivisection of Environment Canada, since this particular branch is mere blocks away from the Dartmouth EC office where people were cut in the fall. But they left the sign up to catch all the other people to be affected.

17 December 2011

I know this sounds insane, but...

I swear, Elton John was standing outside my apartment building this morning when I got back from the gym. Really, this guy looked just like him. He was just standing there with a cab driver, waiting for someone, I guess. 

16 December 2011

More Science That Reinforces Beliefs I’ve Always Held: Sundays are evil, and being veggie is good for you.

A quote from an article on how to critically assess so-called scientific findings (the link on the news site was right next to the headline: “Your Office Chair Will Kill You”): 
 “a closer look at the data reveals that eating more red meat also seemingly raises your risk of accidental death from car crashes and guns.”
Hey, now. If that’s what the data says. Who am I to waste time critically assessing it when it already tells me what I want to hear? I believe it. Looks like I’m going to be living car-crash and bullet-wound free until I die from mouth cancer caused by my toothpaste (assuming my office chair doesn't get me first). 

Also related, but less science-y (as if that's possible) is this article about Sunday Insomnia, which I totally have.  It’s the inability to sleep on Sunday nights. They claim it’s due to the stress of the upcoming work week, but I find mine is so habitual that I even get it on vacation and when I don’t have to work on Mondays.

15 December 2011

Science That Reinforces Beliefs I’ve Always Held: kids are evil, and swearing is good for you.

I’m so in love with science that demonstrates things I’ve always thought were true but that had never been demonstrated. The first is from an article entitled “Kids are Vindictive” (I can’t remember if I read it on CBC or Globe and Mail, and now I can’t find it). Initially, not having read the article, I was all “what else is new?” Having read the article, I know that the headline was way off, and I don’t think the children’s behaviour could be described as vindictive. It’s more that they’re able to recognize bad and good behaviours at very young ages (8-21 months). In my books, this is a really good argument that a lot of our morals are innate and not taught to us by religion. Quirks and Quarks is going to (has already) cover(ed) the study, I believe. 

Second is a study that suggests that swearing actually helps you deal with pain and releases adrenaline. Fuck yeah, swearing is good for you. Who hasn’t been severely stressed out and felt better after belting out some swear words?    

In a related article about swearing, someone made a good point about swear words: “banning words is an arbitrary practice, he says, since what truly offends people aren’t the words themselves, but the thoughts behind them. And thoughts can’t be banned.” For me swearing is okay because there’s no malicious intent. Like when I call my best friend Bitch, it’s not because she’s some heinous woman, it’s a term of endearment because there’s love and 23 years of friendship behind it. However, there are some words I’ll never be comfortable with, no matter how much people try to “own” them or whatever. I think some words have such a history of bad thoughts behind them, there’s no redeeming them.  

10 December 2011

Love and Joy and Waffles Come To You

It's undeniably Christmas. The Christmas spirit takes a little work to generate in Halifax. I know I knock Edmonton a lot, but it's not hard to feel Christmasy in that city, when it's blanketed with snow and all the twinkly lights are reflected in the drifts at night. In Halifax, all the lights are ripped down by windstorms and it's pointless snuggling in front of the fire with mulled wine when it's 12 degress and raining outside. My point being, I tend to throw myself into Christmas-themed things this time of year.

 This year, I started with the Christmas Parade.  The following weekend, Other Auntie and I went to the annual Christmas craft fair at Dalplex. Dalplex is Dalhousie's gym facility. The last time I was inside was 2005, and I was writing an exam. I can't remember which exam. I can't even remember what I took my last term at Dal. Anyway, I was worried I'd suffer location-induced exam stress just from being there, but that didn't happen. After the fair, we met the kids and their parents for the Citadel's Victorian Christmas. I'd never done the Victorian Christmas, and while it's geared more towards kids, I want to go back again next year. I like historical re-creations, especially ones that involve cider and bayonets. Also, the Citadel is a great location, and offers great views of the city.

07 December 2011

Google is way off

This morning, I'd just finished writing an email to Mika about her new baby, when I saw the ad at the top of my Gmail was about baby formula. I tend to find Gmail ads entertaining because mine are usually about U2 tickets or books. Today, for no real reason, I decided to click on the "Why this ad?" link that explains that Google reads your emails to pick out keywords and then tries to sell you stuff. I accept this. I then clicked further to look at their web ads application, which is based on cookies in your browser. They show ads based on the kinds of sites you visit, and on your demographic. The demographic you're assigned in is based on the sites you visit. Upon first glance, I thought: whoa, Google is way off:

Dude, I browse the internet like a 35-44 year old! I need to visit some Justin Bieber sites to get that number down. Then I looked closer, and I thought, holy fuck, Google is way off:

05 December 2011

April is so far away but that's how long we're going to have to wait to see that Joss Whedon horror film that even I forgot about

It was made a while ago and something happened with money or whatever. Who cares. It's on the way and it's got Topher and Whiskey from Dollhouse, Tucker's brother from Buffy, and what looks like The Initiative's bigger, more evil twin. It's gonna be all sorts of salty Whedon goodness. If any of those reference made sense to you, you should see it.Even if they didn't, you should see it. I doubt those references will actually be in the movie.

24 November 2011

Good morning, Winter.

I didn’t think you’d be sticking around. I mean, you arrived early and we weren’t really ready for you. It seems rude to stick around, doesn’t it? I think it would be better for all concerned if you went away and came back at Christmas. 

23 November 2011

Canada Reads Non-fiction (or so she claims at dinner parties)

I didn’t participate much in CR last year, I think the book selection didn’t interest me that much. This year they’re doing all non-fic (i.e., true stories), which I think will really turn some people off, but which I also think is a great idea. They did the thing where they give people time to vote from 40 books and narrow that down to 10 and then they let the judges pick from those 10. I’ve already forgotten mostly what I voted for, but one of them was Wayne Johnston’s Baltimore’s Mansion, which didn’t make the Top 10. In fact, only one book I voted for made it in the Top 10, which tells you something about what a bad Canadian I am.  

The Top 5 (and their defenders) are:

The Game by Ken Dryden (Alan Thicke)
On a Cold Road by Dave Bidini (Stacey McKenzie) 
Prisoner of Tehran by Marina Nemat (Arlene Dickinson)
Something Fierce by Carmen Aguirre (Shad)
The Tiger by John Vaillant (Anne-France Goldwater) 

The Top 5 I predicted after days of careful thought were: Cockeyed by Ryan Knighton, The Game, Prisoner of Tehran, The Tiger, and Shake Hands with the Devil by Roméo Dallaire. 3 out of 5, I'm not such a bad Canadian after all. The others that didn't make the cut:  The Boy in the Moon by Ian Brown, Louis Riel by Chester Brown, and Paris 1919 by Margaret MacMillan. 

The weather outside is frightful

So they sent us home early. But since I work 7:30-3:30, I only got to leave 30 minutes early, but whatever. Halifax has snow fever!

This calls for hot chocolate!

22 November 2011

Hermano-ly advice

"So I suppose you heard Community wasn't picked up for the next slate of programs?  Stay calm and put the knife down.  The new Arrested Development shows will be here before you know it."

I know he means well, but "before I know it" is over a year away. 

21 November 2011

The world around me goes unnoticed

I can be unobservant. This probably isn’t something any of you are going to debate, even half-heartedly. I like to think that I’m too busy thinking important thoughts to notice the details of the world around me. In reality, I do live in my head, but my thoughts aren’t all that lofty or important. This trait of mine leads to awkward conversations with people that follow along the lines of:

Me: [pointing to a picture on the wall] I really like that picture, is it new?
Sister-in-Law: No.
Me: Has it been there a while?
SiL: Yes
Me: Was it there three years ago when I lived here for 9 months?
SiL: Yes.

To date, the biggest thing I didn’t notice was a window at work. One day I was walking through this mostly glass walkway and there was one particular window that I didn’t remember ever seeing before. Obviously, it had been there the whole 1.5 years I’d been taking that walkway on a daily basis – I just never noticed.

Well, I broke my record with an even bigger thing I’d never noticed before. The other day I noticed a school for the first time. It’s clearly visible from a highway I take at least twice a week, near an exit I take occasionally. An entire school that somehow escaped my notice.  At this rate, in about 10 years I’ll be having conversations like this:

Me: [pointing] What’s that?
Other person: (alarmed stare)
Me: Is that new?
OP: No.
Me: What is it?
OP: It’s a door. It’s your front door.
Me: Has it always been there?

20 November 2011

Overheard at the grocery store

Mom: What do you want?
Kid: Candy.
Mom: No more candy. You have enough candy. Do you want some Dunkaroos?

The Christmas season has begun, whether you like it or not.

Last night was the Halifax Christmas parade. It's officially called the "Parade of Lights" but there's really no attempt made to celebrate any holiday other than Christmas. It takes place at night, so all the floats are lit up and it's all pretty. This was the first time I've watched it with my niece and nephew. They really enjoyed it. Me and their Other Auntie spent most of the parade making snarky remarks (which my niece didn't like) but we enjoyed it too. On a completely different level than the children, mind you.

Least Christmasy Entry

17 November 2011

Two awesome videos you've probably already seen but I'm generally behind on internet fads, so they're new to me.

Murmuration from Sophie Windsor Clive on Vimeo.

Having a pet shark never ends well

I had a disturbing shark dream over the weekend. It took place in my parents’ front yard. I had hatched a shark for a pet, I guess. In the dream I called it a shark, but it had no fins and looked like a giant planarian, but with gills and sharp, sharp teeth. It was able to live outside of water, just in the grass of the front yard. For whatever reason, it was decided that I needed to kill it. All I had was a pair of scissors. I don’t know if I was troubled in the dream by having to kill it, or if my conscious self is so bothered by the idea of having to kill an animal that it’s altering my memory of the dream. But I went about the task of killing it. The shark, I think, was pretty docile, up until I stabbed it with the scissors; it didn’t like that, and escaped me to hide under the tree in the front yard. After that I changed my tact. I took off my shoes and socks and walked barefoot on the grass, luring it to me with the promise of a human-flesh meal, I guess.  It took the bait, sinking its sharp little teeth into my foot. It hurt, and I suppose the pain gave me the motivation I needed to kill it. I used the scissors to cut at its mouth to get it to let go of my foot, then after that it was lots of stabbing and slicing. I don’t remember there begin any gore or blood, but I think at the time I was aware of the creature’s panic. After it was dead, its corpse was about half the size it was when it was alive. The dream felt very violent and I was pretty disturbed by it the following morning. Luckily, I’m rapidly forgetting it, so I won’t have to live with that feeling much longer. I won’t be growing any pet sharks in my parents’ front yard anytime soon, though.

14 November 2011

I’m never eating cooked food again. Or, at least, not until 6:30pm tonight.

But I did read something at lunch that totally grossed me out and made me glad that my lunch was a salad and not a stir-fry. It was a story about how cooked food has more energy than raw food, and one of the reasons is that cooking breaks stuff down and makes it more accessible to our digestive system. So far, so good; nothing in there to make me regret reading it. Then comes a comment from one of the researchers behind the study, who described cooking in this way: "We can think of it as externalizing part of the digestive process.” To which I reply, “Ew.” And immediately think of that villain on X-Files who ate women by covering their bodies in digestive juices to make them easier to ingest. Call me old fashioned, but I want my digestion to take place in my stomach, the way Evolution intended.   

The article had a shocking number of comments. I thought the insane people who make insane comments on CBC.ca would be too busy writing inappropriate and/or offensive comments on the stories about child murders to bother commenting on a science story. I was wrong. I didn’t read many of them (not good for my health), but there was one (I assume) vegetarian who was endearingly excited about some new doc about how meat is bad for you and the environment. The [sic]-worthy bit that really grabbed me was how s/he promises: “This films explains all the sciences of it!”  They also claimed that the meat industry will never allow it to air on TV. I don’t know how true that is, given how big “TV” is nowadays and the fact that most cable channels will air pretty much anything. But anyway….what was my point? 

12 November 2011

Some advice

Cottage cheese and blueberries isn't what you want to be eating while watching a zombie stomach content analysis scene on TV.

11 November 2011


Eat your heart out, Oz.

Did you see this piece on CTV? It shows her drawing a Strong Female Character. You can see pics of the signing here, and play Spot Ellie with this video.

If this post makes no sense to you, go to this website. Go! Go now!

10 November 2011

Super Bon Bon

I want to say that the best scene in this week's Castle was when the guys were strutting around in full Elvis to Soul Coughing's Super Bon Bon (video will soon be disabled, I'm sure):

Why was that the best scene? Because Soul Coughing! I love them and I so rarely, perhaps never, hear them on TV or movie soundtracks. I may have heard Circles once, but that's about it (as an aside, the former SC front man, Mike Doughty, has songs all over TV, but they're more mass-market friendly while still being really good).

Anyway, in my search for the above Castle clip, I came across this video that someone made of Fred Astaire dancing to Soul Coughing’s 4 Out Of 5. It's cool, and it begs the question, who has this much free time? And is this like the Hitler meme  where Hitler over-reacts to different situations? (My favourite will always be the Third Reviewer. It’s funny because it’s true y’all). Are there dozens of videos of Fred dancing to various off beat, seemingly incongruous songs?  

This video also begs the question, is the quality of the video really poor, or is Fred Astaire in black face?  Because that’s…just bad. And people should know that by now. 

06 November 2011

Things you don’t expect to happen in your 30s: lattes are the new Pepsi

Dude, this is an actual thing? So wrong.

 I’ve given up pop. Yes, again. I do this every so often, but I always go back to it. I just love the stuff, but I’m slowly learning to accept how bad it really is for my health. I would usually drink diet, which is calorie-free and nutritionally void, but the growing research that suggests aspartame induces the same physiological response that sugar does (insulin production, fat storage) makes sense to me. Also, all that cancer in the lab rats is disconcerting. Not that I’d ever drink enough to reach those levels, but still. And yes, I myself have used the argument that “everything gives you cancer” which is probably true, but if I eliminate one source then maybe I’ll get less cancer? Whatever, I’m giving up pop and you can’t stop me.   

 I’m going on six weeks and I don’t miss it. I think this is in part because I gave it up at the same time that I embarked on a caffeine-free experiment. For 5 weeks (arbitrarily picked) I didn’t have any coffee, tea, or pop. I find that I missed the coffee and tea way more than I missed the pop. I think lattes are my new Pepsi. I attempted this because someone I know was raving about how they stopped drinking coffee and they felt so awesome because of it. I felt no different after 5 weeks. I think they were a heavy coffee drinker beforehand. I’m more of a 5-cups-a-week person as opposed to a 5-cups-a-day person. I don’t think my average daily caffeine intake affects me enough for me to notice a difference in its absence. Long story short, I’m back on coffee and tea. I’m still off the pop, though. 

My apologies to anyone who read this post thinking it might be interesting. 

05 November 2011

Happy Hallowe’en (days ago, I know, but I’m having internet problems).

My mom is a zombie purist. She doesn’t like movies where zombies are played for comedy (e.g., Zombieland). In her words, “if you can’t take zombies seriously, don’t make a zombie movie.” In a recent email she said: 

 “I had this discussion with [name of a girl I worked with in high school redacted] at Council while we were waiting for it to start. She was talking about The Walking Dead and [the zombies’] capacity for strategizing and problem-solving. She said that all species evolve, and perhaps that includes zombies. HOWEVER, there's no way they can move fast! As the numbnuts sheriff in Night of the Living Dead explained, "They're dead, they're all messed up."”

I think I’ll get her a copy of WWZ for Christmas.

She’s also a big fan of zombie walks.

03 November 2011

The local paper here has this word map thing on their webpage. It's made up from the key words they assign to their articles. I assume it covers many, many months. Why else would there be information on Russell Williams?

What I find most interesting is that enough of the articles misspell "millitary" [sic] as a reference term that it appears in the figure. If only there were someone whose job it was to check these things for spelling errors.

Also, the size and boldness of MURDER is troubling. 
MURDER: happening as we speak. 

02 November 2011

I think I've said this before, but it bears repeating.

Dear Bell Aliant,

A 10-hour time window is not an "appointment." It's house arrest.


30 October 2011

Today in numbers too big to comprehend: 7 Billion

So, we’re 7 billion strong now. That number is so big, but it means nothing to me. Maybe if I lived in one of the dense countries, but even in the city I live in there are times when I can go out and not encounter another person (although not today, I swear every freakin' Haligonian was at Sobeys). Still, when I think of 7 billion, all I can picture is humanity as this black cloud engulfing the earth.

Oz sent me a link to this BBC page that puts your stats into a global perspective.  I was the 4,510,757,622nd person born on Earth

Wow, BBC infographic, you know me so well.But your use of commas leaves something to be desired.

Which is kind of cool.

This CBC article, however, is somehow less cool. I know it’s supposed to read like a bunch of nifty facts about our population size, but to me it reads more like the beginning of a conversation about how long we can possibly last on this planet, given how things seem to be spiraling out of control. 

29 October 2011

Things I didn't know/remember about Gremlins

I saw Gremlins last night for what might be the first time. I have vague memories of Gremlins-related things, but I don't know if that's from seeing the movie or just from seeing pieces of it over the course of my life. If I did see it, I was (typically, for my family) way too young because I didn't remember anything. It holds up surprisingly well. It's not scary, but it is still entertaining. I was surprised by how much time they devoted to the creatures. The effects weren't up to today's standards - the movement of the creatures were a little stilted, but it was still fun to watch.

28 October 2011

Poltroonish beavers are just too damn unimaginative for Canada.

So ignoble. 

Well, fuck. I hate this side of politics. Isn’t there anything more important we could be thinking about? Me, I’m far more concerned by the idea of us getting nuclear subs than I am about an official animal that doesn’t even appear on our coat of arms. That being said, this totally sounds like something a 10-year-old would propose if she won a Senator for a Day contest. Yes, polar bears would win in a Cute Off, but they aren't the right choice for us.  

The beaver has a strong historical significance. It was a driving force in the settling and expansion of this country. Polar bears, while gleefully hunted I’m sure, did not. I’d suggest cod (to collective sighs and eye rolls, and a chorus of “we know, Ellie. You like cod, geeze”) as an alternative emblem because it played a massive role in the initial settling of North America’s east coast. Although, whether we should be celebrating any animal that made it easier/gave us an excuse to invade a foreign land and claim it for our own is a whole other discussion. 

Resourceful little scamp, isn't he?

The press release, which in the future will be reprinted in the dictionary under “anthropomorphic” said:

25 October 2011

Kiefer Sutherland, animal ethics, killer sweaters, and dirty pillows: something for everyone!

 A theater downtown has been showing older/classic horror movies every weekend for the past few weeks. Being the pop culture junkies that we are, Alej and I have been going to all of them. The first was Lost Boys, the 1987 vampire movie. I had thought it was based on a Stephen King story, but I think I was confusing it with Salem’s Lot. I had never seen either. I don’t know why I never watched Lost Boys, we had it on VHS when I was growing up, but I was probably too busy watching The Monster Squad to care about Kiefer Sutherland as a very giggly vampire. I don’t know if that was intended to be a character trait of these vampires, but they never stop laughing. Those are some happy vampires. It was an okay movie. It had some laughable special effects and lots of cheesy action. It was also apparently the start of the Corey craze that swept the nation back when I was still too young to care.

 The second movie was the original 1970s The Omen. Another one I hadn’t seen. I thought The Omen was pretty good – there was one death in particular that was shocking in that it was so well executed, I didn’t expect that level of quality from a movie that old. Overall though, I don’t think Alej liked it. It moved too slowly for her. I agree, there was a very long, slow build - especially by today’s standards. There was also a very odd buddy-road-trip kind of thing shoved in the last third of the movie. 

Before they play the movies, one of the theatre employees warms up the crowd by telling us facts about the movie. There’s a scene in The Omen where a goldfish bowl breaks and the fish spill out. They did not, to my relief, use real goldfish in the filming of those scenes. However, in another scene, to get some baboons to attack a car, they locked a baby baboon in the car to try and incite the baboons. When that didn’t work, they locked in the alpha male. They didn’t want to kill any fish, but psychological manipulation of primates was okay with them. I know I have a documented history of selective animal cruelty, but if you make the effort for the fish, you should also make an effort for the baboons. That’s all I’m saying.

 I went for a walk along Lake Banook and through Sullivan Pond Park on Sunday and something was off. I was about 45 minutes into my walk when I started to think that something was weird. It was a typical Halifax Fall day: thick clouds with patches of bright sunshine, too cold for just a t-shirt but too warm for a hoodie over your t-shirt. People were out jogging, biking, walking; kids were running wild in the park, there was a gaggle of old people (a murder of retirees?) racing their little motorised boats very slowly through the Pond. Everything was normal, and I didn’t realize what was missing until I heard it: a helicopter. It’s just not a proper Halifax day until you see or hear a Sea King. They fly by my building at work daily, and Saturday when I was walking to the library I saw three. To me, they play as important a role in the classic Halifax skyline as the casino or those twin office towers. I wonder if the new helicopters will fundamentally change the feel of the city? 

I don't have any pics of sea kings over the city, but I have one of me in one, flying over my old neighbourhood. Close enough. 

Change is still bad

I got no feedback on the temporary re-design of my site. Maybe y’all were too busy weeping and writing good-bye cards while staring longingly at screencaps of the old design. Either way, I didn’t like it - it felt like you had to work too hard to read the posts. They should just be there when you open the page, right? So, I’m back to something more traditional (read: boring). Sadly, I can’t seem to get it back to exactly how it was before, so I’ll be playing with the templates some more. Brace yourself for some more change, but far less change than before.  

16 October 2011

The Doctor is the Monster

A few weeks ago I went to see Frankenstein at the Neptune Theatre. I read the book years ago and didn't like it, but I wanted to see the play version mostly out of curiosity. I really loved how it was staged. I wasn't too enamoured with Victor's portrayal, and the monster wasn't as gruesome as I would have liked, but overall it was pretty good. I actually don't remember the book that well, but I think the play did change a few things, probably because there's only so much you can do with the play format.

Anyway, after seeing the play I dug out my old review of Frankenstein I wrote in 2003 and thought I'd toss it up for all to see. I sound really angry. I think maybe I took the book too seriously. (Also: spoilers). (And bad language).

You know, I'm only halfway through this, but I think that I can write a review that will rival The Last Canadian in length and bitchiness. Translation: this book is not one that I find especially enjoyable.

Victor Frankenstein is the whiniest little bastard ever. Oh, woe is he! What a child. He works for years - years! - to give life to dead flesh, then gets all freaked out when it works. He sends his monster away because the sight of it pains him. I can't begin to express the irresponsibility of this, not to mention sheer lack of compassion or humanity. He just casts this monster out, and then gets all pissed off when the monster kills his little brother. Hello? What the fuck did you expect, Victor? That the monster would run off into the woods and quietly rot away? Did you think he would cease to exist once you severed yourself from him? Living things don't work that way, once they're alive they just keep on livin'. I just can't get over this. If I dedicated years of my life to that sort of project, then saw the Monster's arm move for the first time, I'd be all, "Dude, I'm God." I would have liked Victor a whole hell of a lot more if he did have a God complex. As he is, he is the most spoiled, selfish, self-absorbed, irresponsible child since Linton Heathcliff (about whom I wrote: "He whines over everything, complains about everything, and is no more a man than I."). Victor is just like Linton, completely girlie in every bad sense of the word.

Shall I go on? After making the Monster (I hate to call him that, but he has no name, unless I give him one...Mr. Monstér. It's french) he is bedridden for months. Bedridden! He’s, like, 24. Again, if this were me, I'd be in Geneva picking up my Nobel money. After Mr. Monstér kills little brother, Victor is mad as hell at him. He's also overcome with guilt which he goes on and on about. And on. Oh, and then he talks about his guilt. It's all about Victor. As guilt ridden as he is, I don't get the sense that he thinks that casting out his creation was wrong, just the actual creation. See? It was his fault that he created the thing, but everything after that instant is the fault of Mr. Monstér, not Victor. I guess the nurture over nature debate wasn't one Vic paid much attention to. So, after Mr. Monstér tracts him down and narrates his sad tale (a few chapters I didn't mind too much, except that Mr. Monstér seems to have Daddy's penchant for self-pity) Vic agrees to build him a bride. Then, what does Vic do? Vic goes on vacation. Again, if my creation demanded a mate and threatened the life of my family, I don't think I'd run off to the Hamptons for a few months before starting work. There is some justice, however: poor little Vic is unable to enjoy his trip.
I was formed for peaceful happiness...[Mr. Monstér] might remain in Switzerland and wreak his vengeance on my relatives. This idea pursued me and tormented me at every moment from which I might otherwise have snatched repose and peace.
Oh, I'm sorry Victor. Is the hideous creature you made while toying with the laws of nature wrecking your repose? Is the monster that you created and damned to an existence of exile and hatred bothering you? I bet your life is awful hard, eh? Poor, poor Victor. I'm sorry that your own thoughtlessness has come back to ruin your life of ease and fortune. How will you go on? All I want in life is for Victor to take responsibility for his actions. I want him to say, “This all could have worked out if I had a) never made this thing or b)taken care of it and treated it like a living being and not a monster to be shunned.” But, I doubt Victor will ever really suffer the consequences of his actions. Or maybe he will, I haven’t finished the book yet.

There was a resurgence of Summer over Thanksgiving. Summer came back and gave us sun and heat for three glorious days. It was remarkable, walking around in sandals and capris on Thanksgiving weekend. Of course, Autumn eventually noticed and dragged Summer kicking and screaming back to it’s watery grave.

Last Friday, however, was another matter entirely. It was so freakin' cold. Alej and I went out to Digby to do a few hikes. Both walks were shorter than we expected. The first was mostly along a beach. The second was a lovely walk through the woods.


Five-year-olds agree: change is bad.

But it's also inevitable. I'm trying out a new blog format. You can change the view by clicking on the options at the top of the blog (Classic, Flipcard, Magazine, etc.). You can also organise by Date and Label. Utilize the comments option and let me know how much you hate it.

Speaking of resistance to change, I think mine is genetic. My SiL told me a story about my niece recently. They replaced their dining room set and were selling the old stuff on kijiji. My 5-year-old niece freaked out when she found out that one particular chair was going to be sold. She cried, and cried, and hugged the chair, and wrote it a good-bye card.

15 October 2011

Urban Living

For those of you who are always asking me about Dartmouth housing prices (Oz) I'm going to direct you to two recent episodes of the HGTV show Urban Suburban, which is a very similar show to Property Virgins, except the home buyers are presented with three urban and three suburban homes and have to choose. Two recent episodes featured Dartmouth as the urban option. I take umbrage at their definitions of "urban" and "suburban" but whatever - you can see my neighbourhood on TV! And, also, my friends A & T's neighbourhood (the one referred to as cookie-cutter).

29 September 2011

Psychic Ellie, FTW!

Earlier today I was thinking about how long it's been since there was a fire alarm at work. They used to occur with maddening regularity, but I don't think there's been one all summer. Then, this afternoon, the fire alarm went off! Freaky.

26 September 2011

The first song I heard on the radio this morning was King of Pain. I thought it was a nice coincidence to start off my week. Also, I really love that song.

25 September 2011

It’s my destiny to be the King of Lame

Today in “Ways in Which Ellie is Lamer than She Wants You to Think” I will confess to what I’ve been listening to on  repeat for the past two weeks (although, the very fact that I’m putting this on a public forum could be construed as evidence of the fact that I want people to know how lame I am. This whole internet-voluntarily-forgoing-privacy-age is such a confusing time). I’ll wait while you guess. Like Jeopardy, your answer only counts if you say it out loud. The answer isn’t necessarily surprising just, you know, kind of lame: the soundtrack for the reviled Broadway musical Spiderman: Turn off the Dark, with music by Bono and The Edge.  

When I first heard about it I thought it could be kind of awesome. I’m not a huge Spiderman fan, but I look forward to every U2-related project with the same faithful enthusiasm and while I am sometimes disappointed, mostly I am not. But, as time passed, and all I read about were all the problems that plagued the musical, I kind of assumed it couldn’t be good and figured I’d never listen to it. Then I saw Carney open for U2, and I found out their frontman plays Spiderman in the musical, and then I saw the video for the single, and I was bored one night, so I got the soundtrack and had a listen.

It’s pretty standard musical theater stuff. I don’t know anything about the plot aside from it being the usual Spiderman origin story. Because of that, some of the songs make little sense to me, like the green goblin singing that he’s a “65 millions dollar circus tragedy” and then going on about all the widows in the world being in New York. Anyway, the cool thing is that most of the songs totally have the U2 sound, and very Bono lyrics, and both Bono and Edge sing on the some of the tracks (Edge singing is a dig deal. He hasn't been lead on a U2 song since the early 90s). So, it simultaneously satisfies the part of me that loves musicals and the part of me that responds to U2 music. Two, I assume adjacent, parts of my brain that have never been happy at the same time before. It’s quite remarkable, and addictive. It’s quite awesome to have those two things combined.

So, now I think there needs to be more cross-over in the things I love or otherwise enjoy. I’m thinking of a musical with lyrics by Douglas Coupland and music by Bono & Edge. It’s about The Doctor time/space traveling in the TARDIS with Charles Darwin and Joss Whedon as his companions, starring the cast of Arrested Development, liberally peppered with references about how awesome fish are. It would have a niche audience, but I think I would die of happiness listening to it (if I had Photoshop I would totally make a picture of this musical, but you'll just have to use your imagination).   

If only VIA weren't so expensive

Has anyone else noticed that planes seem to be falling out of the sky recently? Every day there's another report of some kind of crash, or collision, or accident. It's alarming. It could just be that these things are more reported than in the past, but it feels like some modern horseman of the apocalypse.

16 September 2011

I can't tell those two Republican guys apart

I have a shirt that says "America is Scary." I bought it back around the time they legitimately elected Bush. At the time, I felt the sentiment was true. Then, suddenly America wasn't scary any more. They elected Obama! Things were looking up! Meanwhile, in Canada it felt like we were the scary ones. (Albeit, without t-shits to tell us so. At least according to Google image search).  My point is, there was awhile there where I felt like I couldn't wear the shirt in public because America didn't really deserve it.

I'm beginning to think that time has come for me to wear the shirt again. It feels like America is getting it's scary on again. Granted, everything I know about American politics I get from The Daily Show and  Moron's With Signs. I'm sure they don't downplay the scary. Even so, with only a precious year until the next election, I suspect things are only going to get worse.

Speaking of the election, I can't tell Mit Perry and Rick Romney apart. Wait. No. It's Rick Perry and Mit Romney. Part of it is the names, informal first names, last names ending in -ey. There's little there for me to latch on to as distinguishing. The other problem is that when looking at both of them on the screen, I don't know which is which. They might as well be the same person to me. I gather that one of them is a front-runner, but I don't know if it's the one that annoys me, or the one that genuinely scares me. History would suggest that it's the latter. I think I'll actually be happy once the Republicans decide on a candidate, because then I can a) stop trying to remember who everyone is, and b) focus all my worrying around one person.

Shut up R

Click to enlarge.

13 September 2011

Get set. Go.

Sometimes when I'm purchasing something and the cashier says "swipe your card when you're ready," I get the urge to just stand there, card in hand, and staring at the debit machine. I'd do this until the cashier says "you can swipe your card now." Then I would shout back "I'M NOT READY!"

'Cause, really, that phrase is so stupid. Swipe when you're ready. As if it takes lots of mental preparation or coaching.

04 September 2011

How could it happen? No one knows. But it did

This went under my radar, but Kristy Swanson (the original Buffy) is in a shark movie with D.B.Sweeny from Cutting Edge (although I also remember him from a show called Strange Luck that Fox made in the mid-90s when they were trying to capilatize on the success of X Files and they aired a whole whack of sci-fiy shows).

But my real reason for this post is this movie: Zaat. The trailer is a narrative mess, so I imagine the movie would have been nearly incomprehensible.

Admit it, those first 40 seconds you were like, "With a few more genetics credits, that could've been  you, Ellie." That's what I thought anyway. Then, of course, I thought "pollute the universe? with a spray bottle? Won't that take a very long time?  and what's with the near-subliminal shot of the couple making out? Who would want to see just the last 15 minutes of a movie anyway?" 

I found this on io9, along with other aquatic-related monster movies. I hadn't heard of most of them, including Blood Beach, which should really be renamed Death Sand: The Sand That Eats People

02 September 2011

Art of Fiction

I was already excited for the new Wayne Johnston book  A World Elsewhere. Like, really excited. Then I found out that the author Edith Wharton is a (I think, small) character in the book and I had a bibliogasm. How awesome that my favourite female author would be a character in a novel by one of my favourite male authors. (I haven’t reviewed my favourite male author ratings lately, but I think I’ll put that off until after the next Wright comes out). 

At the moment I’m reading two things. The first is Under the Dome by Stephen King. I read King initially as a kid because my mom liked him so much and his books were (and still are) all over the house. In hindsight, I was probably way too young to be reading those books, but my mom was never one to censor us. In recent years, Mom & I have given up on King. We’re of the opinion that he hasn’t written anything very good since getting hit by that van. It may just be a coincidence, but regardless, we generally like his work pre-van, but post-van has been less than exciting, e.g., the snot monster in Dreamcatcher? I mean, that’s hardly at the artistic level of a giant spider masquerading as a psycho clown, is it?

Reports from someone else’s homeland

My mom called me at work the other day. My parents are visiting relatives down south right now, so when my mom called me long distance in the middle of the day, I thought for sure someone was dead. Thankfully, she was just calling to tell me that The Help isn’t racist and that it just depicts a racist situation. I’d heard some bad things about The Help, which really put me off wanting to read it. Apparently my mom thought this was eating me up inside and felt the need to let me know right away, pretty much as they were leaving the theatre.

She sent me an email with things she’s seen around during her visit so far. She’s really not one for taking pictures, but she does have an almost eidetic memory, even at 61.  

Bumper sticker: Jesus is Lord, not a swear word

On the side of an auto body shop: Serving you and the Lord

Billboard:  Jesus fish, with the words "Do you know I love you? I do"

Billboard: "Who's the father?" to advertise just that service [at least they got the punctuation right].

Billboard: picture of Obama with the words "It's we the people, not you the president"

At the Decatur Farmers' Market: one of those universal "no" signs on the door, forbidding handguns.

Cute story:Aunt Janet ate lunch with her grandson and stepgrandchildren one day. One of the kids whose grandmother wasn't there asked if Janet could be his grandma. Jayden said, "She's my NANA. She's got 12 guns and 15 tattoos, and she's my nana." [My Aunt Janet is the one who pulled a gun on someone who broke into her house once.] 

31 August 2011

It's the most wonderful time of the year, but...

When I called hurricane season the most wonderful time of the year, I didn’t mean to imply that I love the destruction of it all. I just meant that it’s an interesting time to be living on the east coast; I like watching the predictions of the storm tracks, and I like having to haul my patio furniture in every couple of weeks and move my car so that it’s not under any trees. I don’t like that people die in these things. Just wanted to make that clear.

I find it unsettling that we’re already at K on the hurricane list. In 2009, we were still early in the alphabet at the beginning of September. This time last year we hadn’t gotten to E yet, and when Juan hit back in 2003, it didn’t get here until the end of September. At this rate, Hurricane Leslie (2012, baby!) will hit in mid August. 

27 August 2011

Mega Shark vs Crocosaurus (not to be confused with Mega Pyton vs. Gatoroid, which I think is a common mistake.)

Here it is my friends. I know you’ve been waiting for this. God knows, I’m getting sick of Oz’s shouty 2am phone calls “I WANT CRACKERS. WHY HAVEN'T YOU WRITTEN ABOUT MEGASHARK AND CROCOSAURUS YET? MY ARM HURTS.”

And I’m live blooggin it!! If I had twitter I’d be describing it in a series of 140 character snippets.

[Fine print: this is actually really freakin' long. And totally spoilery. So if you get bored, or the movie is ruined (or, "ruint" as they say out here) for you, don't say I didn't warn you.]

...constantly cracking my skull against things.

I’m freshly back from seven days at sea. It was a good trip – lots of work, though. And after the second day or so it’s really repetitive (like most field work I’ve done), although I got to see some cool stuff: giant lobster, octopi, and lots and lots of scallops. Also, one cod! The cod was the highlight of my trip. It’s been…(doing the math)…8 years since I’ve held a cod. It was only a little guy, though. I’m pretty sure s/he survived.

20 August 2011

Alej and I finally went sea kayaking. It's one of those things we always talk about, but never get around to doing.

Of course, my eyes are closed in most of the pictures, but here are some good ones Alej took (again, I'm using these without permission. Thanks, Alej!).

It’s the most wonderful time of the year!

NOAA’s 2011 Atlantic seasonal outlook calls for:
  • 6-10 Hurricanes (maximum sustained winds: 119+ km/h)
  • 3-5 Major Hurricanes (maximum sustained winds: 178+ km/h)

19 August 2011

If you were wondering, the new Paul Simon album is awesome. Also – dude is 69!!

12 August 2011

The 8th time I saw U2…

…was very different from the 7th time, despite very similar set lists. Actually, I was hoping for the same set list as the show earlier in the month, just so I could experience again those songs I was, let’s say, distracted during.

Let’s begin with the difference in location. This show, the last show of the endless, 2+ years 360degrees tour, was at Magnetic Hill in Moncton, New Brunswick. If you happen to read the U2 fan sites (c’mon, admit it: you check them every day), you’d see fan reaction to the announcement of the last show in Moncton was generally “Where?” and then, after they googled it, “Why there?” My reaction to the rumours was “U2 will never come to Moncton.” I was wrong. I’m still not sure why they came here, but I suppose a venue that holds 100,000 people in the middle of three provinces they’ve never played before kind of guarantees a large audience. Also, they’re Freaking U2. They can play wherever the hell they want. They could play a show on a floating barge in the arctic and people would go.