santa's baby Back from a langourous lunch with friends. I only have a few things to do before leaving for a full two weeks off. Dinner tonight, cocktails tomorrow, and then, who knows. That's the beauty of this time of year; it's marvelously mellow.


Guy Who Works in Company with Suggestive Name Looking for Non-reputable Girls Someone from a company called Cox (cox.net) executed this search.
Illiterate Person Looking for Slow Stripper I'm number one!
Who's Santa's Baby Now? I finally made my debut at Club Soda the day before yesterday. It went better than I could have imagined. I woke up Wednesday feeling kind of queasy, like I was coming down with that horrible flu everyone was talking about. I went to work, and then left at around noon for the sound check. Not everything was completely set up, so I wandered around Chinatown and had some soup, which made me feel better. I went back to Club Soda, and we ran through the set with the sound technicians, who would ocassionally shout very loudly into the microphones as they were troubleshooting feedback problems. I couldn't hear myself when I was singing, and was disappointed that we weren't going to have another opportunity to rehearse before the show--the club was so different from our rehearsal space at Softimage. I wasn't disappointed when I was told that we would be able to use the dressing rooms below the stage. Cool! Just like real musicians. There were some unused packets of Twinings tea, but no fruit platter. I wondered which musician had left behind the tea and how long it had been there. I walked back up the hill to Softimage, did a bit more work, and then went home. I still felt queasy. I fixed myself a light supper-salad and scallops--and then napped for half an hour. I got ready. I wore my lucky lacy top. I drove to the club and found parking nearby. I had a glass of wine. I had another. My song was in the middle of the second set, so as soon as it started, I retired to my dressing room. I made sure I still had a voice by singing in one of the bathrooms (check) and made sure I didn't have any lipstick on my teeth (check). I waited. I was ready when my turn came up and came through the back curtains when my name was called. I couldn't see the audience, but I could hear them. I could see the huge projection to my left, which showed what was happening on stage. "Hey! Lookit me. I'm on stage! Is my panty line showing?", I asked the audience while pointing to the projection and my derriere at the same time. The music started up and I could feel my legs shaking a bit. I closed my eyes, clenched my little fists and started singing on cue. I couldn't get over the audience reaction; they whooped and shouted as I hit every note. It was so cool and it encouraged me through the rest of the song. Happily, I could hear myself as well. The Showstoppers (Softimage's house band) did a great job supporting me, and my colleague "A" did an awesome job with his saxophone solo, which really leant to the torchlighted-ness of the song. I did some backing vocals on a couple of the songs that followed, and then made my departure. Friends and colleagues were really complimentary afterwards. Several made their way to the dressing room and just showered me with ... I think it was surprise. Only a few people had ever really heard me sing before, and I guess they were really taken aback. It was really encouraging to see them feeling so proud for me. I felt proud as well, but--and I can't believe I'm saying this--it was a little overwhelming to get all that attention. When I left the dressing room, pretty much everyone I knew made a point of coming over to me and saying incredibly nice things. The party continued. We danced. We drank. We finished all the dessert. We had a nite cap at Else's. I drove home singing Christmas songs. Fourty-eight hours later, I realize that I didn't have the beginnings of the flu, but "the jitters". I'm definitely not immune to a bit of stage fright: the first time I ever demoed for Softimage (at GDC this year), I threw up beforehand. Photos and perhaps even a video coming soon!


Geese and Tee Many Martoonis A certain stock I own has performed rather well lately, so I decided to sell some and splurge on something I've been wanting for a while--a 100% goose down duvet. Fortuitously, The Bay put theirs on sale on Friday, so on my way to work, I stopped off and checked them out. I found one with the right amount of loft and bought it. That night, I changed all the sheets on my bed and stuffed my new duvet in a clean, cat hair-free, cover. To test its effectiveness, I shut off the heat completely (impossible with my regular duvet, unless you like dreaming that you're naked and you can't find the thermostat to turn the heat up in your childhood home). Omigod. I was so toasty. Pratically roasting. Thank-you, geese. Thank-you. Unfortunately, on Saturday, I didn't get to sleep under my downy duvet. At my friend L's cocktail party, I had a few too many martinis. At around midnight--we'd been drinking since 6:00--I curled up on some cushions in her living room, but then decided that her bed would be much more comfortable. Bless her heart, she didn't boot me out; she slept in the guest room. When I finally got up, she handed me glass after glass of cold water and, when those decided they were going to stay down, cup after cup of good espresso and steamed milk. I slept like a kitten on Sunday night, reunited with my 45 ounces of downy softness and four purring kitty bodies who also approved of the newest member of the family.


It's December. Do You Know Where Your Hollyhock Is? Several hollyhocks grew in my front garden this year. I didn't plant them; they just grew. I think they were carried--by the wind or bird poop--from the rooming house up the road from me, where they only thing that grows in the scrabbly dirt in front of the rooming house is hollyhocks. Every year, the "guy on the bike" makes sure they're supported as they grow. Before the frost set in, my hollyhocks were still growing. I cut them down and brought them in as cut flowers. One of the branches is still in bloom. Amazing.


Bath bombs, cigarette patches, and true crime I quit smoking (again). Saturday, November 16, I looked at my half-full package of Gauloises and, at arms length, ran water on the whole pack to render them unsmokable. To get me through the weekend, I finished the three Panter cigarellos I had and on the Monday, I bought myself some nicotine patches. I partied as usual this weekend, with no lapses. Yay me! I had to special order the non-transparent patches, because the transparent ones don't stick to my skin unless I rub the area vigourously with alcohol. The patches come with a cute little booklet that provide helpful hints and list certain side-effects such as insomnia and vivid dreams. They recommend that you step down to a lower dose to eliminate the side-effects. I'm not experiencing insomnia (I rarely do), but I am having some rather vivid dreams. One rather memorable dream involved a gorilla. Apparently, we were in a relationship. As the dream progressed, he began losing his hair (at one point my gorilla guy was wearing a blue latex face mask) and became less gorilla-like, except for one feature: his...um...penis. I told him there was no way we were going to have relations until his organ shrunk down to something more managable--size does matter. I'm remembering most of my dreams, and have a great deal of control over them. If I wake up, I can slip right back into the story line. This isn't an unpleasant side-effect. Needless to say, I look forward to bedtime these days. Last night, bedtime was particularly cozy. I've been experimenting with making homemade bath bombs to give as Christmas gifts, and made my first batch Sunday night. Since I had to try one, I ran a bath at around 11:00 p.m. I dropped the bomb in the running water and it fizzed, just like it's supposed to. It even smelled good (citrusy rose). It was a lovely soak--the bomb consists of baking soda, olive oil, citric acid and rose oil--and I came out of the bath warm and a bit sleepy and feeling really soft, but not greasy. I slipped into my bed, which has a feather bottom topped with a flannel sheet from Simons, and squirmed in sheer delight. Then I picked up the book I've been reading. In addition to my love of 70s and 80s horror films, I love true crime. At the church bazaar (see previous post), I picked up a book called "The Torso Murder", which I thought was going to be a retelling of the Black Dahlia, a true story that inspired James Ellroy's brilliant book of the same name. It turned out to be a book about a woman, Evelyn Dick, accused of killing and dismembering her husband in Hamilton, Ontario in the 1940s. A facinating read, which, happily, had no impact on my dreams. I dreamt I was on holiday with two of my gal pals. We got split up as we were running through a corn field. I ended up in a cute little rooming house full of friendly Mexican people. They agreed to let me stay there until my friends found me. That I didn't have nightmares is a sign that I'm incredibly well-adjusted...or a psychopath.


The Ro-tato Revelation I never miss my parent's church's annual Christmas bazaar. I'll usually help out on the busiest night--Friday--and arrive well before the doors open at 7:00 p.m. so I can can scope out and acquire all the interesting bits and pieces the congregation donates. I scored: some wine glasses. some danish-design aluminum and wood kitchenware (which I'll give as a gift to a designer friend of mine). the entire Amy Vanderbilt "How to" series, which includes titles such as "How to be a More Interesting Woman" and "How to Have a Great Vacation" (they were published in 1965). some inflatable hangers that I originally thought were shower caps. that they are inflatable hangers is a bonus. homemade strawberry jam. various sweets, including some dark chocolate fudge, which I immediately distributed to friends. two ozz franca framed prints. Awesome! various necklaces. a whack of macrame pattern books, which I'm convinced will see a revival soon. There's a price to be paid for gettting first dibs on all this stuff: I have to work behind the "white elephant" table, where everything from CDs to japanese teapots get donated and sold. There's never enough room to put everything that's donated, so more stuff comes out of boxes as other stuff gets sold. Towards the end of the evening, my mother and I looked at a bag full of stuffed animals and started digging through it to see what's sellable. As I sifted through grubby bears and rabbits, my hand brushed something hard and plastic. I pulled it out and discovered that it was a Rotato, a battery-operated potato peeler. No sooner did I put it on the table for sale when a woman came up and said, "You won't believe this, but on my way down here, I found a potato in the street." To prove it, she pulled it out of her hand bag. "It's still perfectly good." And it was. I sold her the Rotato for 50 cents. Now I know the price of divine intervention.


Hommage to my Girlfriends It was the last writing workshop last night. We talked about actually getting published, and my short story, among two others, was deemed attractive to the publishing market, which I think is pretty cool. I still think I like the idea of self-publishing, but perhaps I should investigate sending it out to appropriate publications once the final edits are in. The participants in the workshop have been great, but I've found myself being uncharacteristically shy, perhaps because the subject of the workshop is "writing from memoir" and I've revealed much to these strangers in a short amount of time. There is definitely a one participant, a woman about my age give or take, who seems to quite despise me. She actually said that I used "too many adjectives", which reminded me of the scene in Amadeus, where Mozart is told by the King of France that his music contains "too many notes". This comment just confirmed the vibe I had been getting from her during the whole workshop. This is a rarity in my life--women in particular tend to take quite a shine to me. (Men, of course, are another matter.) The last time I felt this kind of quirky contempt was while I was doing my Master's. There was a handful of women who treated me like I was a bimbo. I think it was the lipstick and the heels I wore (I was working part-time at IBM at the time). There was some incongruity, I suppose, between the lips that were painted scarlet and the lips that were adept at speaking intelligently about almost any post-modern text. Yup, I adored Jean Baudrillard, but adored shopping more. Baudrillard would approve, at least. So, this is a hommage to all the wonderful women in my life who love me as I am and never fail to make me feel special. A, who's known me the longest and knows me best. She rarely judges and chastises--but when she does it makes me a better person. Li, who I met only a couple of years ago, but who's an integral part of my life. Her energy and chuztpah is forever admirable. Le, also a new friend, who, with wisdom and gentleness, always expresses faith in me. J, more than a colleague, constantly suprises me with her strength and incredible advise. C, also much more than a colleague, someone I know I can share much with, which is usually a good belly laugh. The "Slander Girls", who confirm that smart is beautiful and sexy. ...and all the wonderful women I encounter daily. (I don't wish to insult my boy pals, but simply remind them that "it's different for girls".)


Nomar: the Cat's Pyjamas When you have four cats, it's hard not to play favourites. But, each of my little guys has their singular charm: Benny is the friendliest, Rosie is the most independent, Punkin is the cutest, and Nomar is the gentlest. Nomar spends as much time with me as he does with my neighbours and their grandchildren, with whom he is exceptionally patient, letting them pick him up and carry him about the garden. He's a big orange fella. Big paws. Short hair. Face a bit human-like. He still spends more time out than in, but that ratio changes as the temperature dips. This morning he wandered in and sat on me as I was reading the paper. He's so big that it's impossible to actually cuddle him and read at the same time. So, I gave in to this large purring mass and he sat on me, his head on my shoulder and his entire body covering the entirety of my upper torso. Sigh. Cats are lovely. Nomar was brought to me a few years ago. My other neighbours were proprietors of a local watering hole, and some patron had left Nomar in the bar. My neighbour's daughter tried to keep him, but her allergies were really bad, so he came to me. Whoever left him there doesn't know what they're missing.


I'll be home for Christmas... Started practicing some Christmas tunes with my friend R as we've been invited back to play at a Concordia Fine Arts Christmas do. We're trying to do as many twisted versions of twisted Christmas songs as possible, mingled with our usual repertoire of jazz, sesame street and italian revolutionary songs. In the same vein, I'll be singing a song with Softimage's house band at the company Christmas party on December 11. It takes place at Club Soda, so I'll actually be able to say that I've sung there. What have I chosen? Eartha Kitt's seminal Christmas tune of living and giving: Santa Baby. If you have off-beat Christmas tunes to suggest, I'd love to hear them!


My short story was finally reviewed last evening by the participants in the writing workshop I'm in. The story is based in my own experiences and I was pleased that it was received favourably, with some very constructive comments, which I'll implement on the weekend. Writing from "memoir" can be kind of perilous, particularly if you're dealing with something that still lives with you under your skin. It can lose its universality and sink quickly into a psychiatric case study. I showed the story to a colleague a couple of days before--he wasn't aware that the experiences in the story were actually based in my own. He seemed to like it, but labelled the heroine in the story "heartless". A participant in the workshop also wondered how close my heartless heroine was to my own personality as the character seems at odds with this workshop mate's favourable impression of me "in the flesh". It was a revelation to me that I could invent a completely new character just by recasting familiar events around a small, but dark, part of my personality. Mostly I'm proud that I've managed to go beyond "diarist" and into to the realm of "fictionalist". I'll be posting the revised story publicly soon.


Snow Shuffle I caught myself walking funny today. There's still slushy wet bits everywhere and I'm still in girly shoes that look great with my jeans, but don't provide any traction at all. I find that my walk devolves into baby steps in an attempt to stay upright and combines with a march as I attempt to lift my feet high above the muck. People stare.


Moving Forward with my Twenty-something Posse Bowling for Columbine I finally had a real weekend. No work. No thinking about work. Just 48 hours to do whatever I wanted. Friday started off well, with a viewing of Bowling for Columbine, Michael Moore’s erratic and brilliant documentary on guns in America. He presented a rather surprising statistic: there are as many guns per capita as the United States, yet we don’t experience anywhere near the same homicide rate. What’s up with that? He suggests that it has something to do with our social security net. Detractors of this film say that it lacks focus and is somewhat facile. Given the enormity of the issue, if nothing else, I think he asks the right questions. If Moore is right, and I think he is, and our security resides with our social policies, then please join me as I protest against the Mario Dumont’s of this world who propose changes to our health care system and a ridiculous reduction in tax rates. I can afford private health care and I could buy a yacht if my income was only taxed at 20%. However, he’s simply proposing a society in which I simply wouldn’t want to live. Make the rich pay, indeed. Nantha’s Kitchen, Part Deux I saw this film with a twenty-something colleague from work and two of his twenty-something friends visiting from Toronto. After the film we split up and I met more friends at the new microbrewery in Nantha’s Kitchen space. They’ve done a great job with the décor. And there are more bathrooms. The Amber beer could do with a touch more head, the Stout with a bit more oomph. But, for $4.75 a pint, you can’t go wrong. I’m sorry, but I don’t recall the name of the brew pub. Saturday Night’s All Right for Cupcakes The next day was my friend H’s birthday party. I made chocolate cupcakes with my mother’s famed mocha icing. The recipe comes from the first recipe book she ever bought when my parents moved to Canada and the first my mom gave me when I moved out: the Canadian classic Kate Aitken’s Cook Book. The cupcakes were a hit and I was in a fine, party mood. My twenty-something posse was there, too, and we split for Else’s at around 1:00 a.m. The Five Second Rule It’s interesting hanging with people who are so much younger than you, particularly if they’re flirting with you. Pretty much all week, my twenty-something colleague had been making comments to me about “being with an older woman” and whether, as my palm was being read by our receptionist (see previous blog), there was any foretelling of a tall, good-looking younger man about to enter my life. The best part during our drinking fest at Else’s was when I described the five-second rule: if you’re trying to show someone you’re interested in them, hold their gaze for at least five seconds. Well, after that, my colleague and his twenty-something friends all seemed to be attempting to hold my gaze for at least that. All good fun, in a strange kind of way. It got rather awkward when we started to talk about age and beauty (but, not truth—that would have been too eerily Socratic). I tried to remain politically correct by announcing that youth and beauty weren’t necessarily synonymous. But who can deny the exquisiteness of glowing, unlined skin and lanky bodies? And the attentions of three good-looking young men who could be my sons—if I had become pregnant just barely out of high school. Moving Forward Today I took a test that was supposed to reveal my worst fear. Apparently, I fear “moving forward”. Dear readers, you’ve been privy to quite a bit about me—issues with “aging” and trysts in Else’s washroom--and I wonder if you’ll concur with me as I come to the conclusion that it’s time for me to move forward, grow up and find…someone old enough to be my father to date.


24 hours in the life of... Yesterday at about this time, I was sitting in a meeting in which we were going over the last minute details of the release of Softimage's new products. There was still much to do, despite the long hours spent in the office the previous weeks. In the middle of the meeting, realizing I hadn't eaten at all that day, I stepped out and grabbed a bagel and coffee from Tim Horten's. Verdict? Coffee good. Bagel bad. After the meeting, there was a mad scramble to get everything marked, proofed, and prepped for the web. I managed to finish up just in time to get to the Sigur Ros concert at Metrolpolis. It was sheer pleasure to go from the chaos of the office to the hypnotic sounds created by theses skinny Icelandic angels. Backed by a string quartet, they sound a bit like Radiohead, a bit like monks singing Gregorian chants, and a bit like a good jazz combo on a really mellow night. I didn't want to leave, and just sat at the bar chatting with friends until the staff warned us that our coats, still in the coat check room, risked getting locked in forever if we didn't go get them. Got home and discovered that Prom Night was playing on Pix. I fell asleep, so I'm not entirely sure who the prom killer was. But Jamie Lee Curtis sure did cut a rug in the Saturday Night Fever-inspired dance scene. Can you say "Farah Fawcett Flip"? Woke up very late. Got to work very late. Went for lunch with a friend at Sofia's, treating ourselves to a lunch that cost us more than our usual $6.50 budget. To bring things full circle, a meeting similar to yesterday's is about to take place in a few minutes. In the meantime, I'm having my palm read by our very wise receptionist who does this every year to raise money for Centraide. Click here to see the fruits of our labour.


A pumpkin, a drill, and far too much red wine About eight of us sat on the floor of a friend's living room and scooped out pumpkin guts. Once hollow, most took out knives to carve faces, but one person had his carving set with him and scraped a face onto the surface of the pumpkin--very effective. There was one bottle-blonde who brought her cordless drill and drill set and proceeded to drill tiny little holes in her pumpkin, into which she placed tiny Christmas lights. The results would have been fabulous, rather than experimental, had she brought enough lights (100 wasn't enough!) and had they not insisted on shorting out whilst in contact with the moist pumpkin flesh. Dropping the pumpkin a couple of times brought the lights back to life, but tended to have ill effects on the pumpkin itself. The saucy "vin de table" she brought with her reminded her that the ends don't always justify the means.


Another weekend... ...at the office. Friday night, I did manage to drink a bit too much beer, which was good, but I was entirely un-tipsy-fied by the time I biked home. It's Sunday, and I have no idea what I did on Saturday, other than read the paper, go to the offfice, go home and crash on the couch. Today was fun, though: brunch at friends, a bit of work, and pumpkin carving tonight. I'm going to carve my pumpkin with a drill (cordless, of course).


I went out to dinner with friends tonight instead of working overtime (for the 9th day in a row) and I feel guilty. What's wrong with me?


Fun with Search Engines I'm number one with: - "starry starry night napkins": Dinner or sanitary? Actually, now that they have black "panty liners", why not ones emblazoned with oh-so-popular impressionist art. There's gotta be Hello Kitty panty liners somewhere. - "pigeon hill map quebec": How sweet to be listed "number one" in relation to my favourite Quebec village. - "platonic sex": I'm worried. What does that say about me? I'm number two with: - "put your legs in my shoes": Legs in shoes? How big are these shoes, anyway?


Spinnin' Wheel's Got to Go Round Did you ever notice the sound a leaf makes when it gets caught in a vortex and it spins on the asphalt? It makes a clicking sound. It's cool. I Want To Ride My Bicycle I caught a glimpse of my shadow today as I was cycling to work. I was riveted by how my bum changed shape every time I turned the pedal. Up. Down. Up. Down. No wonder my butt is flatter.


Rain, Rain... When I biked to work yesterday morning, it was moderately sunny. It started raining mid-afternoon and didn't stop until well into this morning. I faced a dilemma at about 6:00 p.m. last evening. I wanted to attend a launch party hosted by one of Softimage's competitors. Should I grab a cab and arrive looking as fresh as I did that morning? Should I take my bike and arrive looking like a drowned rat? I chose the latter. It pelted. Non-stop. My leather coat saved me from getting soaked to the skin, and my scarf protected about a third of my hair. But I was still very, very wet. When I arrived at the registration desk, I dripped all over the receptionist and all over the sign-in sheet I was asked to fill out. Once safely (and covertly) past the registration desk, I hightailed it to the women's washroom and used their supply of brown paper towels to dry my hair. I ate their sandwiches. I drank their cheap red wine. I dried off. I took copious notes about their new product line-up. I got even wetter riding home, but that was fine as I could peel off my wet clothes, turn up the heat, and pile four warm purring cat bodies onto my own. After about fifteen minutes, the kitties tired of catering to me and wanted to go outside. I tried to explain that it was raining "cats and dogs", but the metaphor was lost on them. As I switched on the back patio light and opened the door for my furry little buddies, I was shocked to see that every single leaf from my two massive maple trees had decided to fall off. Last weekend, I was wondering when I was going to have to start raking, as few leaves had actually fallen. It only took one downpour to shake every crimson, gold, and brown leaf off the tree and scatter them everywhere. Sigh.


Sam Taylor-Wood at the MAC Yes, I'm an art whore. I just couldn't miss the opening of the Sam Taylor-Wood exhibit at the MAC last Friday. Taylor-Wood does video and photographic works often dealing with issues of alienation and all the baggage that goes with that. The beauty of her video work begins in the quality of it. Typically projected in large format, the images are sharp and clean, which helps you to move into the pieces themselves. Go to see the lovely Pieta-inspired piece or the fascinating alone-in-a-crowd party piece, featuring the amazing Marianne Faithful.


Frances, Gilda, Mildred, and Me My first assignment for my writing workshop is to write (loosely) about some film that's had some impact on my life. I thought I would have an easy time of it, having purchased several James M. Cain novels for a dollar at the last St-Laurent street festival. The hardcover collection includes "The Postman Always Rings Twice", "Mildred Pierce", and "Double Indemnity", all of which I've seen in their celluloid incarnation. As an aside, no postman appears in "The Postman Always Rings Twice". Initially, I decided to write about "Mildred Pierce", mostly because in the novel, Mildred has a very active sex life--unlike the film--and has a very sado-maso-erotic relationship with her oldest daughter. There was enough fodder for twenty pages easily. I wrote about three pages when I realized that it was sounding very much like an academic paper, comparing and contrasting the book to the film, "buttressed" (a word favoured by my western civ. profs) by examples. Around the time I was thinking about the two Mildreds and my workshop assignment, the CBC presented a panel discussion on the 30th anniversary of the Joy of Sex. One of the older panelists lauded the Joy of Sex as having contributed to the liberation of female sexuality. I've always been suspicious of these types of pronouncements, mostly because books by Cain and characters like Mildred prove that women were having lots of recreational sex well before the 1970s. The idea that women weren't enjoying sex until 1970 is a weird middle class construct. I thought I'd take Mildred, introduce her to middle-class notions of emerging/subjugated female sexuality and see what happens. But, then I realized I'd be writing some kind of university essay and be missing the point. So, my mind wandered back to memories of other films that left an impression on me. The first memory was from about 20 years ago, when I saw the film "Frances". I was between relationships and seeing my friend Charlie on a very platonic level. We were "dating", but never kissed or held hands. We would occasionally put our arms around one another. Every Saturday we would go dancing, and sometimes we would see a movie. I had left Michel about a year earlier, and had yet to meet Bill. So, between relationships and dating someone who I didn't really desire, I saw a film that viscerally portrayed a very tortured and misunderstood actress from the 1940s, Frances Farmer. Beautiful, gifted, alcoholic, and addicted to amphetamines, after one too many sessions in a mental institution, Frances was left literally with very little brain--a doctor finally performing a lobotomy on her to control her "willfulness". Frances, now dead, does have her own tarot card. I remember walking out of the movie--Charlie and I saw it the old Monkland Theatre--and my mind replaying scenes in which a very rebellious actress becomes a very powerless woman. I think Charlie tried to engage me in a conversation about feminism, but all I could think about was my own rebellious acts and whether one day I'd pay for my independence. I don't know exactly when I stopped seeing Charlie and when I started seeing Bill, but it wasn't very long after that. Bill and I stayed together for a few years. It was a pretty stormy and passionate time, especially when he went away for a semester to Trinity College, Dublin. I held onto the relationship voraciously, at one point racking up an $800.00 phone bill because of one-too-many tearful and pleading phone calls to Ireland. My father had to pay the bill to have my phone service reinstated. Despite the investment, we broke up in the Cracovie restaurant on Stanley street, a restaurant I've not been to since and which I'm not even sure exists any more. A very short while later, I met Rob. Eventually, he went away to school. We broke up, too. After Rob, Tony became the new Charlie. An artist who never washed his hair and who made a living by selling drugs to his friends, Tony was an odd choice for me as a between-relationship companion. He lived in a loft in Old Montreal when it wasn't trendy to do so. He never had any money. He was moody and eccentric and the hairiest man I've ever seen. His favourite word was "hirsute". We didn't love each other. We were kind of cruel to each other. We were convenient for one another. Around this time, I saw the film "Gilda", the story of a woman so inexplicably mistreated that it stands as a stellar example of sado-masochism. I discovered the film in the local video store in their very tiny "Classics" section. I remember sitting down in front of the television on the floor of my living room, completely engaged by every scene, which invariably involved someone being very nasty and calculating to someone else. I even tried to write short story that attempted to intertwine the film's plot with an anecdote that a girlfriend told me about a particularly bad date, but I never finished it. I stopped seeing Tony and started seeing Paul. Paul and I were together for a decade until we broke up a couple of years ago. Since then, there's been no Charlies or Tonys to fill the gap. No Frances' or Gildas to iconize feminine fragility. Only Mildred and the academic sway she holds over me.


Ron Sexsmith at Cabaret Saw Ron Sexsmith at Cabaret last night. Normally, I'm not a big fan of that kind of music--kinda folky, kinda rocky, kinda country--but there's something about his superb lyrics and melodies, and intelligent romanticism that draws me in. That he sings like an angel completes the allure. At a certain point during the concert, I realized that I had been kind of lulled into another space. Still conscious of the music playing in front of me, my mind also wandered around thoughts of love and relationships and--I know this sounds corny--I kinda fell in love with the singer on stage, not in a lusting-after-a-rock-star kind of way, but as if he was a tiny benevolent deity, beautiful, perfect, and flawed. He reminded me to be more loving, and there can't be anything wrong with that.


Fun with Science I love the Fall, partially because that means that church bazaars and flea markets will be in full swing. I know some people like to go to the posh neighbourhoods to find steals on designer stuff. Me? I like to go to Verdun, because that's where you can find vintage 70s and 80s stuff for practically no money whatsoever. Here's an inventory of what I found: 1 Hilary Radley nylon trench coat. Crayon green with orange and black polka dot lining. $2.00 1 100 % pure wool cape. Red. $2.00 1 Anne Klein wool skirt. Black. $1.00 1 Khaki shorts, like Debbie Harry wore on the Muppet Show. $1.00 1 almost complete "Grow Your Own Crystals" Kit, complete with growing dishes, charcoal starter, mercurochrome, iodine, food colouring. Fabulous picture of mom and son on front cover. $.25


A Brand New Me! Thanks to Bill, my blog has received a much needed makeover and now matches my still-very-empty web site. The only thing missing is the comments section at the end of each entry. The code for that feature is on my sick PC, which decided to fry my network card while I was on vacation. Thinking that I could just swap in a network card from another PC I just happened to have hanging around, I went ahead and did that. Now the damn PC won't boot--at all. All should be well this weekend, though. On another note, I started a workshop sponsored by the Quebec Writer's Federation entitled Memoir: The Art of Personal Writing. The goal is to have the workshop act as a catalyst for *finally* publishing some stories I've been working on on my web site. Hopefully, the workshop will ensure that they're free of cloying self-indulgence and contain a semblance of (quirky) universality.


Maine 'n Me I have a visceral connection to Maine. Many, many, many happy memories of days spent by the sea, camping with my parents and siblings, and later cottaging with just my parents. Lobsters, mussels, star fish, American snack foods, Casper the Friendly Ghost comics, sand in your shoes, sun on your nose, cliffs with pools of tiny crab and winkles.... Here's a summary of what I did this year: Saturday, September 7: Left at around 10:30 in the morning and arrived at around 7:00 in the evening. Of course, I got lost, missing the connection to highway 3 in Augusta, Maine. Discovered Belgrade, Maine as I re-routed myself to my ultimate destination: Belfast, Maine. Checked into my little cottage. Am pleased that the cottage seems to have full cable service, unlike last year. Sunday, September 8: Hot. Took it easy. Shopped for groceries, wine, and the Sunday New York Times. Sat on the porch and read the Times' coverage of the first anniversary of 911. Monday, September 9: First day trip to Acadia National Park. Still hot. Went to Sand Beach and had a dip and ate some lunch and *almost* fell asleep by the sea. Roused myself enough to do a hike around Jordan Pond. Challenging not because of its elevation, but because the trail disappears frequently and you make up your own as you trip from rock to rock by the pond's shore. There's a lovely restaurant with seating on a wide lawn just by the pond where they serve popovers, strawberry jam, and fresh creamery butter. Tuesday, Septmber 10: Decide to take it easy because of the heat. Start reading Brett Easton Ellis' Glamorama, which contains lines that have me laughing out loud on my little porch. Make a trip to the lobster pound, where I buy two really big lobsters. Wednesday, September 11: Go to Camden Hills State Park to hike. Mistake the parking lot I'm in, and, therefore, misread the hiking map, and, therefore, get really lost. I must have done a 6 mile loop before finding the road again. Reward myself by going to the chi-chi village of Camden and buying something I don't need. Merchants are offering complimentary roses in memory of the WTC dead. Thursday, September 12: Back to Acadia, where I initially decide to visit the wild gardens and take an easy rambly hike through marshy areas. See a sign that reads "Dorr Mountain East Face Trail" and decide to go for it instead. Climb about 1700 feet across stone steps in the rocks and switchbacks along plateaus that consistently reveal breathtaking views of Bar Harbor, the sea, and the sky. On the way down, I help some Germans stay on the path. Friday, September 13: I pack the car and have a vague idea that maybe I'll take a different route home that leads me to Quebec City, where I might stay the night. From Brunswick, Maine, I take the 201, which goes directly to Quebec City, where it becomes the 173. I travel through desolate, beautiful logging country. No Wal-Marts. No Rite-Aids. No Dunkin' Donuts. About 100 kilometres from the border, I pull off into one of the rest areas to watch the sun set over the Kennebec river. Magnificent. Once in Quebec, I decide to drive back to Montreal. Finally home, I quickly roll into bed and fall asleep immediately. Today, everyone says I look relaxed and even have a bit of sparkle in my eyes.


Bound for Maine Saturday I leave for a week by the sea. I've booked a cottage outside Acadia National Park and plan days filled with hikes, sea kayaking and lobster. I'm so lucky.


Atom Egoyan at the MAC Went to the opening of one of the new exhibits at the Musee d'art contemporain last night. Atom Egoyan, poster boy of Canadian cinema, presented "Out of Use", an installation consisting of borrowed reel-to-reel tape machines and recordings. Ostensibly to explore the relationship of technology and memory, I was more fascinated by the construction of the installation itself than the theme it explored. Amazingly, a single loop of tape was being played by the dozens of reel-to-reel tape decks. I tracked the movement of the tape from one machine to another, wondering how often a technician had to come in to fix the delicate loop as it travelled around the intricate pully system. Accompanying the installation were some videos of people (they could have been actors--I'm not sure), recalling the role that the their donated tape recorder and recordings had in their lives. Very filmic. Kinda touching. On the whole, I found the piece a technical marvel, but not very evocative of the theme it was attempting to explore. You can take the girl outta texas... Finally got some pictures from Siggraph. There are some particularly fun ones of me and my friends J and K on the beach at Corpus Christi, Texas. The colour of the ocean is exactly as you see it in the picture below--dark and not-at-all blue. The water was as warm as any bath I've taken, and while I did some swimming, I spent most of my time sitting in the surf and feeling like I was in the world's biggest hot tub. me in corpus christi, texas


Burlington, Pigeon Hill, and Swiffer Wet Jets I don't know what got into me this weekend. I just wanted to get outta town. Saturday, I got up at my usual hour, made breakfast, read the Gazoo and the Globe and did a bit of tidying up around the house. Then I showered and decided I'd go to Burlington and try to spend the night around there. The plan was to shop a bit in Burlington, find a hotel, and then do some hiking the next day. Kids, never, ever leave home without booking a hotel. Everything was booked solid between Burlington and the Canadian border. No big deal. I had a nice dinner, bought some stuff at Old Navy, and watched the sun set behind the Adirondacks swinging on a public bench on the shores of the Champlain. I started the drive back at around 9:30 p.m. I think I've already written about driving at night, but another thing I noticed about doing this, particularly on smaller, windy roads, is how meditative it is. Talk about clearing your mind of all thought and just concentrating on the task at hand. Very, very cleansing and relaxing. I still had the "get outta town" bug on Sunday, so I pulled out my Hiking in Quebec book and decided on Frelighsbourg, a tiny village a few kilometres from Vermont. There are some simple hiking trails just outside the village that lead you through meadows of wildflowers and beautiful forests. The most amazing thing was the distinctive smell of honey everywhere. It reminded me of when I used to help my ex-'s mom extract honey from the hives she kept. You'd get deliciously covered, head to toe, in honey. On the drive back, I decided to stay off the 10 for as long as possible. I passed through a number of little villages, notably tiny Pigeon Hill, perhaps one of the quaintest areas I've been through in a long time. Mature trees grow close to the narrow road. Modest and well-kept heritage homes sit slightly back from the road. The sun was low in the sky (it was around 6:30 p.m.), casting that amazing golden glow through the trees. Nice place to visit, but could I live there? On a domestic note, I finally found a Swiffer WetJet. This is a magical household device that lets you clean floors in heels, kicky palzzo pants and a cute little form-fitting sleeveless sweater. No buckets, no measuring cleaning fluid into lukewarm water, no mop head to wring out. Magic. This is a battery-powered device that sprays cleaning fluid from the bottle attached directly to the mop itself. When the mop head is dirty, you throw it away. Amazing. I visited many, many Canadian Tires, Wal-Marts, and Reno-Depots before finding one in the Canadian Tire in Cowansville. When I got home with it last night, I assembled it and cleaned the entire downstairs floor. I was so thrilled with it that I cleaned some of the floors upstairs as well. My floors now have a clean uniformity that they haven't had in a long time. This device could change my life.


New York, New York is a fabulous town. The Bronx is up and the Battery's down. People ride in a hole in the ground... New York was the sweatiest city I've been to in a while, and I've been in New Orleans and San Antonio recently (the latter actually voted the sweatiest city in the US). But, it was worth the extra deodorant and the bead of sweat that inevitably forms above my upper lip when I'm very, very hot. We left early Saturday morning and immediately got lost. I forgot that the exit to the 15 was right after the Champlain Bridge, realizing this only as I saw signs for the 89 and then the 91, knowing that I had missed the exit to take me to the 87. Using a rather undetailed map, we navigated through rural Quebec in a general southerly direction. Have you ever noticed that driving through that part of the world, all signs point to the little village of Venise en Quebec? We would actually take roads opposite to the direction of this tiny vacation spot, but always ended up seeing signs for it. Ironically, we finally passed through it to cross at the Alburg, Vermont customs station, a wise move according to the customs officer who told us that there was a two hour wait at Rouse's Point (where the 15 becomes the 87). We arrived in New York at around 6:00 and drove down the Henry Hudson parkway and over the Brooklyn Bridge, easily finding L's friend's place in a sweetly gentrified neighbourhood minutes from this historic bridge. We went for dinner in a cute Lebanese restaurant where I had a starter of yummy raw lamb and finished with a lovely stuffed squash. We walked to the waterfront where we had an excellent view of the Manhatten skyline and the missing World Trade Center. Along the fence facing the river, you could see the strings and ribbons used to attach the flowers and other tokens people left as memorials. The next day, we ventured into Queens, the temporary location of MOMA while it's under renovation and the permanent location of PS1. PS1 had an exhibit of contemporary artists from Mexico City. All of us were eager to see it because we had all spent time there and had fallen in love with this amzing metropolis. Francis Alÿs’ work was the strongest, I think, showing typical scenes of people carting things around the city. He showed a fantastic video piece in Montreal a few years ago documenting the dragging of a large block of ice through the city until there was nothing left of it. MOMA had a show called Tempo, but we had so little time before closing that it was simply too ironic to rush through a piece about time. Instead, I wandered through the permanent collection, which was greatly reduced because of the size difference between the Manhatten and Queen's locations. They put out all the icons of modern art: Van Gogh's Starry Night, Warhol's Soup Cans, Picasso's Desmoiselles d'Avignon, etc....I spent a lot of time in front of a huge Pollock. There's just something about those drip paintings that pull me right in. We ended the day in an incredible tapas restaurant on 60th at First Avenue. Very good. Very expensive. Very worth it. The next day was pure shopping which ended at the newly renovated Grand Central Station. We ate in the tony Oyster Bar. Nostalgic for Maine, I ordered a lobster roll with creamy cole slaw. Nummy. On the way home, we did visit MassMOCA, a huge complex reminiscent of Banff in its mandate. Worth the detour and worth keeping abreast of the exhibits there. There was nothing particularly striking this time around, except for the complex itself, a renovated electronics factory full of light and brick and wood. Excellent canteen. Wonderful washrooms. A bank machine that didn't charge a service fee.


You're going to make it after all... Busy times at work, but not so busy that I can't take a couple of days to enjoy what I'm sure is the stinkiest, sweatiest metropolis of all: New York City. My friend L and I are heading out tomorrow morning to catch this show: Consuming Places. I hope there's time to shop... On out way back, we hope to stop here: MassMOCA.


(no) Smokin'! Walking and biking were two good habits I picked up in May. I also picked up a bad one--smoking. It started (again) innocently enough. A pub in Soho. A proffered pint. An open deck of cigs. What's one cigarette, I said, tossing my then red curls. For a while, I kept it to about six a day. In July, with work pressures, I was heading back to a pack a day. I swore that after returning from Siggraph, I would quit. And I did. It's been 48 hours now, sans cigarettes. Do I miss them? Oh, yes, yes, yes. Am I irritable? Not really, fuck. Am I stuffing myself with chips and chocolate? No, not right at this very minute. By the way, did I say I really want a cigarette?


Some babies just aren't very cute Although the temperature today is quite cool, Montrealers know it's been stinkin' hot for a while now. Last Wednesday, to celebrate the arrival of one of my buds from accross the pond, I had a bar-b-q. It was hot. There was lots of food. There were many flies. My garbage can is conveniently located under the stairs, not far from the dining patio. Styrofoam dishes heaped with chicken bones, leftover salad, and crumpled napkins were quickly chucked into the garbage can. I missed the garbage pick-up on Friday. Did I mention it was hot? I opened up the garabge can yesterday, in preparation for pick-up this morning. It was teaming with maggots. More than I''ve seen in a long time. More than I ever want to see again. They aren't cute *at all*. These are the moments when I miss having a man about the house. But, if I can deal with the kitty litter box, I can deal with this, I thought to myself. At first, I though if I sprayed them with a bleach solution, they'd kind of die and cease wiggling. However, when I sprayed them, they just started wiggling more and heaps of them started leaping out of the garbage can as more seemed to surge from the bottom. Then, I thought that if I slipped a larger garbage bag over the opening of the garbage can, I could just flip the contents inside the larger bag. I couldn't manouver the bag inside the can properly and more babies slipped out. My heart was racing in complete digust and panic. Finally, I figured that the easiet thing to do was to simply put the entire can in the larger garbage bag. I put the lid back on, made sure there were no stray babies on the outside, and encased the entire thing in the larger bag. I immediately put it outside. I hope Canadian Tire has garbage cans on sale this week.


I'm back! July was busy, busy, busy. Siggraph was a blast. San Antonio was hot! I came back to an overgrown garden, cat's who wouldn't come back into the house, skunks (much larger than when I left) freely roaming my patio. Took two day's rest, three day's catch-up at work, two-day weekend, and here I am, back at work, feeling very...blonde. Yes! My hair became bleached from the chlorine in the hotel pool. I thought it was a hoot that no one recognized me as a blonde chick, so now I'm a strawberry blonde. Where's my Casey, cuz I feel like walztin'.


Yowza! It's 10:15 p.m. and do you know where your favourite redhead is? Preparing for Siggraph, the biggest 2D and 3D graphics show in the world. What's she doing? Creating virtual crowds of men who mill about then rush, with ever increasing speed, a pyramid. Have I done any laundry? No. Have I seen my cats recently? No. Have I eaten a proper meal today? No. Is there any milk in the fridge? I hope so. Coffee? MMMMMMMMMMMMmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm...ZZZZZZZZZZZZzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz....


Work days are getting longer and longer as I prepare for another trade show. Me and my new companion (my bike, not my Kissin'-in-Else's admirerer) gather up energy on the ride to work (which is uphill) and unwind on the ride home (which, naturally, is downhill). I'm discovering how to use all 12 gears again, and am getting used to shifting smoothly (something I'm not known for in the Beetle). I'm learning to love the speed you gain when going down a steep hill and and how to lean into a corner at high speeds. Phun! In a scant three weeks, my leg muscles are firmer, and my waist and butt are just a little bit smaller. Cool! I love the period around trade shows at work. Although highly stressful, everyone is pulling in roughly the same direction to put on a great show. It's like theatre, but you have to compile it in the end. Before leaving, I made the rounds of the floor above me where all the developers sit. It was great to make simple connections with people working to solve problems, who were approaching the time to say "let's call it a day"", who wanted to just shoot the shit about health clubs, moving experiences, theories about overweight Americans and their consumption of carbohydrates, and problems with connections to the server. I love my job. But, I also love what I'm doing right now: sitting in my garden with my old laptop hooked to the phone line and electrical outlet through very long chords, writing, surfing, unwinding, thinking, and planning. The day lilies and evening primose have closed for the night, and a family of six baby skunks and a mother are cavorting at the end of the garden, under the maple trees. The wind is moderate, and the leaves on the trees make a sound that's almost like the ocean. The cats are exploring everything that moves, drinking pond water instead of the fresh water I left for them, and, surprisingly, ignoring the black and white creatures living under my garden shed. Could I be any more privileged?


Loco Motion When I was on holiday in London, I got used to walking everywhere. I was, after all, there to see as much as possible, and the tube isn't terribly interesting (or efficient, for that matter). When I got back to Montreal, I started walking to work two to three times a week, as I fell in love with the...um...weight loss benefits. It took me about an hour to make the trek from home to work. A couple of weeks ago, I dragged my old Bianchi out of the shed, pumped up the tires, gave it a good oiling, and went for a bike ride. I've been on my bike ever since. It takes me about 15 minutes to get to work by bike, not much longer than it does by car. Last weekend, I even biked to all my social activities--to the gay village for a concert, the jazz fest for, what else, jazz, up to the plateau for drinks, downtown for a party, back to the plateau for champagne. I even biked to Candian Tire to get extra reflectors for my bike for those late night rides. The past two days, however, I've been coming by car, which, blissfully, has AC. The heat is too much, and I tend to leave just as the city is heating up (around 10:30 a.m.). Although there are showers at work, I've not managed to break my minimum 45 minute getting-ready routine and loathe the thought of primping and scrubbing at work. I'm waiting for someone to turn the thermostat down 'cause I want to straddle my old saddle.


Kissin' in Else's Else's, on the corner of Roy and de Buillon, is my favourite watering-hole. It's comfy, friendly, and I've been going there for years, as have many of my friends and acquaintances. I've spent many late evenings there and have vivid memories of discussions covering everything from why men are such jerks/why women are incomprehensible to why Philip K. Dick is the greatest science-fiction writer of all time. When I just need to unwind a little after work, that's where I go, usually with at least one other equally-stressed colleague in tow. That's what I did last Thursday. After a quick dinner at Cabane, my friend J and I went to Else's to meet up with another friend just in from Toronto. Unexpectedly, two more of my workmates were there as well--one who has a crush on me and one who I have a bit of a crush on. Quelle triangle. We all sat together and had a great time, my admirer to my right. Sitting tightly around the round table, our knees touched, which he took advantage of throughout the evening. He coupled this with nose tweaks, cheek pinching and other overt flirting behaviour. It was fun. It was flattering. It was late. At around 2:30, I got up to pay and have a last tinkle. As I exited the washroom, who's there but my admirer, asking me where I'm going? He says other things, and before I know it, I'm kissing in Else's washroom hallway. I won't tell you what happened after that, but suffice to say that I will always smile a little everytime I use the washroom at Else's.


Maggie is sometimes known as The Bitch Goddess. Maggie is known throughout the US as a performer, producer and teacher of the hammered dulcimer. Maggie is the best!! MAGGIE is an alliance of gender support groups in the Midwest United States. Maggie won Best of Breed and was shown in the Terrier Group Final. Maggie is normally a quiet bird and doesn't make a fuss like some of her larger cousins. Maggie's is the first sex-worker-run education project in Canada. Maggie is a top and Alex is more of a bottom. Maggie is an accidental star. Maggie is our rambunctious little weasel-dog! Maggie is scheduled for a pre-cath appointment; surgery is not yetscheduled. Maggie is the Alaska Zoo's female African elephant (Loxodonta africanus). Maggie is a HOT spanko babe and she's mine, all mine! You, too, can play. Just type "[your name] is" in Google and start the search. You must put the search string in quotes, otherwise Google will ignore the word "is". Got it? Go! Lisa started me on this and then Jiiiim suggested searching for "[your name] isn't": As a wrestler, Maggie isn't all technique and no brawn. One look at her and it's obvious how strong she is, especially in the shoulders and thighs. Spooky. So life-like....
Hello Kitty and the World Cup I finally have an interest in the World Cup now that one of my colleagues has returned with not one, but, two, Hello Kitty Happy Meal toys from Japan. Both transformers, Hello Kitty (dressed as an Italian soccer fan) tranforms into a McChicken, and Dear Daniel (dressed as an evil referee) transforms into a medium sized McDrink. The instructions for these toys are as follows: 1. Pull apart the velcro strip (located behind the head) 2. Pull out the shell inside until it is completely exposed (now I know what kitty has for brains) 3. Stuff the head inside first, followed by the body and the legs (how to skin a kitty) 4. Close the velcro strip so that it fits without touching the toy (sentence fault! I can't do this *without touching the toy"!)
Poke the Penguin Go on!


Six Degrees of Separation or Fame, What's Your Name? The photo posted below is of two of my four band mates and me playing after dinner at my house last Saturday. After that performance, one of my dinner guests "I" asked us to play at a cocktail she was having the next Friday for the incoming director of an arts organization she's part of. It's funny how small the Montreal anglo community is sometimes. "I" is a good friend and colleague of one of my friends "L". I met "L" because she's neighbours of two of my closest friends, "R" and "M". As an aside, "L" got a job that my ex was competing for a couple of years ago. My friend "R", our guitarist, is good friends with a colleague of "L"'s, who recommended our drummer to us. The drummer ("A") is a good friend of "I"'s, although she didn't know that he played with us when she invited us to play. To round everything out, I had already met "A"'s girlfriend at a bar-b-q last summer at "R" and "M"'s house, but didn't put the two of the together until the day of cocktail. If you need a diagram, email me. It was a hoot to play for strangers, and I was surprised at not only how not-nervous I was, but that people really liked us. "You like us! You really, really like us!" A few days before, we all got together to work out a set. We decided on this eclectic mix: - Fever - You'd Be So Nice to Come Home To - Rubber Duckie (yes, Ernie's song from Sesame Street) - My Heart Belongs To Daddy - Imagine - Little Boxes (made famous by Pete Seeger) - An Italian communist song that I learned when I was a Marxist-Leninist, many, many, many years ago. It may seem a little strange to go from classic jazz songs, to a kid's song, to protest songs, but it worked. I especially like howling the last line of the Communist song: "Et vivo communismo et la liberta!"--isn't that what it's all about? Since people liked us so much, we worked through the set again, adding a very improvised version of "Paper Moon" and "The (Boy) from Impanema". I love "Paper Moon" not only because it's a lovely song to sing, but because of the lyrics: Say, its only a paper moon Sailing over a cardboard sea But it wouldn't be make-believe If you were here with me Yes, it's only a canvas sky Hanging over a muslin tree But it wouldn't be make-believe If you believed in me Without your love It's a honky-tonk parade Without your love It's a melody played in a penny arcade It's a Barnum and Bailey world Just as phony as it can be But it wouldn't be make-believe If you believed in me Whenever I sing the lyric "But it wouldn't be make-believe if you believed in me" I'm reminded in a rational, clear-headed, but melancholic kind of way, that that's what I look for in friends and lovers--people who believe in me--and that it's sometimes absent in the people you wish it from the most. Such is love.... Rubber Duckie, joy of joys When I squeeze you, you make noise Rubber Duckie, you're my very best friend, it's true


Melvis Kostello Duz Toronto I drove 1000 Km over two days to catch Elvis Costello in Toronto at the Molson Ampitheatre. I left at around 10:30 Wednesday morning with the intention of taking my time. I was meeting my niece at 6:00 p.m. downtown to pick her up, so I had ample time. I hate the 401. It's incredibly boring, but gets you between Montreal and Toronto quickly and predictably. Living near the 20, I prefer to take the 20 all the the way to the 401, despite the fact that it requires that you stop at several lights between here and Hudson. It gives me a chance to travel through the small town where I grew up--Dorion--and note the changes that have occurred in the thirty years since my family moved from there. As I cross the bridge from the island of Montreal into Dorion, I note that the small strip mall is now is full-fledged indoor mall. J.C. Vallée, the car dealer, and our neighbour when I was growing up, has moved his business to the other side of the town. The tiny motel chalets that were on the waterfront are now gone, but I'll always be able to picture them as the place that one of my childhood companions used to escape from her family on at least one occassion. The Silvery Moon, the only Chinese restaurant for miles, is now a futon shop, but the faux-oriental architecture is still intact. Patate Serge is still there after all these years. The tiny cinema is also still there, but is some kind of retail establishment. Caillette's, an ice cream bar where you could also get the freshest curd cheese, was converted into a "Bar Western", but now sits empty with an "A Louer" sign on it. Closer to the town's western limits, new malls and restaurants occupy what were farmer's fields. Not far from the house where I grew up is a MacDonald's. In just a couple of blinks, Dorion is behind you and Toronto is 450 Km ahead. The concert was superb. I was, however, a bit disappointed with the Toronto crowd. Most hail EC's new album as a return to his earlier 70s sound. I just hail it as a continuation of incredible, edible lyrics, vocals to sometimes die for, and learned and bold muscianship. To accompany the tunes from the new album, EC delved into earlier stuff, like "Waiting for the End of the World", "Radio, Radio", "(I Dont's Want to Go to) Chelsea", "Watching the Detectives", "Mystery Dance", "Lipstick Vogue"--none of which really managed to get the Toronto crowd collectively up and on its feet. Not EC's fault, but due, I think, to the very mixed-age crowd and the stadium-style venue. This concert would have been awesome at the Spectrum or Metropolis. Unfortunately, this was his only Canadian tour date. I spent some time with my great nephew and sister (a proud Grandmother) before heading home to Montreal. Avoiding the 401 at all costs, I took the 2 back until Kingston, where I stopped at one of those roadside car-and-people service stations. Tempted by the Timbits at Tim Horton's I bought a box, but I was disappointed that at least a third of them were stale. Shame! What always surprises me about driving at night is how much faster I tend to go. During the day, I'll rarely top 130 Km, but I night, I'll frequently travel as fast as 160 Km. I think it's because during the day I can see more, hence there are more things to to potentially hit, roll into, and careen off of. At night, I really only concentrate on the tunnel of road in front of me, and who's behind me (though, at 160 Km, there's rarely anyone behind me). As I pass from the Ontario border into Quebec, I always get a big grin on my face whenever I see that "Bonjour" sign with the waving fleur-de-lys on it (effective graphic design!). It's always good to cross back into the place where I was born and the place that I understand the best. Bonjour, Québec! Au Revoir, Ontario....


Leave for Toronto tomorrow morning to catch the Elvis Costello concert later that evening. Drive back on Thursday and then back to work on Friday. A great break in the middle of a very busy week. I'll be sure to tell you all about it....


Kitty Fest in the Dog Run Across the street from work is a dog run. It borders the gardens where I watch the smoking lady from my office. It's actually a lovely place, full of things in bloom. I often go down there for a bit of a break, to see what's growing, and sometimes to hum a song I'm trying to learn in some kind of privacy. I never see any dogs there, but I do see lots of cats. These aren't strays. These are cats likely from the homes bordering the dog run. Earlier today, I went out and this little guy watched me very intently for a while. I spoke a few kitty words to him and for a moment I thought I was blocking his path to the end of the run, so I moved. But, he wasn't scared of me. Instead, he approached me, rubbed up against me, and then lay flat on his back, offering his tummy for a good scratch. I obliged. Later, I went out again. This time a fat orange cat, who I had seen before, was patrolling the run. He watched some birds for a while, brushed up agianst me, and then wandered off to eat some grass--cats eat an enormous amount of grass. I felt like joining him, but I'm back in my office with my bird's eye view of the dog run.


I know that I was designed to never have children. Physically, I'm quite certain I can have them. But, mentally, it's never been in the cards. Proof? Put a bunch of cute baby pictures in front of me, and I become very polite and utter the right words. "She's so cute." "She looks just like her dad." "I have an outfit just like that." Put me in front of a bunch of cute kitten pictures and something visceral comes into play. I want them. I want them ALL! I want them all badly. Body and soul. There's something about a furry, full kitteny-soft belly that is irresistable. Those tiny claws. The eyes. The ears. Check this out and see if you have the same response. I'll be posting a picture of my Rosie when she was a young thing. I'll let you know when I do so you can vote her the cutest kitten.
Tale of a lonely Goatherdess Went to the Sound of Music singalong last Saturday. Several of us dressed up, some in liederhosen (or convincing facimiles) and others in Swiss-style getups reminiscent of milkmaids. I was in the latter group. Imagine seven grownups traipsing up Bleury towards the Imperial cinema dressed like it was Halloween. We could have made good pocket change if we had passed a hat round to all the cars that honked us on our way. Entering the cinema, we were given loot bags containing various props--eidelweiss, a piece of fabric symboizing the curtains, etc.--and instructions on how to respond to various characters on the screen. The mean Nazi boy, named Rolf, deserved nothing less than the barking we gave him everytime he appeared on the screen. Little Gretel, the littlest of all the Von Trapps, warranted an "anwwwwwwwww" everytime she appeared in all her dimpled cuteness. When the Captain and Maria kiss for the first time, we were allowed to pop a somewhat lethal pyrotechnic device that sent streamers everywhere. The best part, of course, was the singing. Singing along with the nuns ("How do you solve a problem like Maria?"), the kids ("Doe, a deer, a female deer....") and, my favourite, the young lovers, Rolf and Leisel ("I am sixteen, going on seventeen. People say I'm nieve..."). Phun! The best part was during intermission, as we stood outside for some air, as our wholesome-but-geeky costumes were contrasted by and the young men and women dressed in Goth styles (going to some concert at the Spectrum).


Sometimes I write a sentence, and I re-read it and marvel at its simplicity. I can't believe I wrote it. It's like I'm disembodied from my own words.


Pure Shite Got home at around 10:00 p.m. after going to an opening after work. A habit I've gotten into once I arrive home is to immediately open up the patio door to check out my garden. Usually a cat or two rushes in to get to the food bowl or the prime spot on the sofa. The garden is doing exceptionally well this year, particularly in contrast with the last two summers, which were somewhat mediocre. The Summer of 2000 was when I split with my partner, and the garden just got neglected. I don't think I actually did any work in it until well into that Fall, when I half-heartedly repotted some geraniums to bring indoors. Last summer, the garden did a little better, and I added a pond, which is proving to be really successful. But the previous year's neglect (no additional compost, no fertilizer, no deadheading or trimming) produced some rather unspectacular perennials. As I walked out tonight, I noticed many things in flower or about to flower. The irises, which actually never bloomed before, have several incredible flower buds on them, as do the centaura, the dianthus, the yarrow, the columbine, and the mallow. The peonies are going to put on an a beautiful fragrant show it seems, judging from the number of buds. For the first time, my lavender has come back and the bushes are really lush. In fact, everything is big and mature and lush. All the perennials this year got treated to a top dressing of real cow and sheep manure, direct from a friend's farm. He purchased what was a dairy and sheep farm. The manure mucked out from the barn has been composting for four or five years, so the smell has dissipated for the most part. The pile itself is a good two stories high, and it's hard to imagine using it all up in my lifetime. This is good shit. I can't help but think that the garden's current lushness is the result of the incredible nutrients in this marvelous manure. There's something moving about holding a newly bloomed flower carefully between your fingers. Combine that with the sweet scent of the neighbour's lilac trees, and you have a moment of sheer delight.


Montreal, Ground Zero I'm back in reality. I arrived yesterday at around 6:00 p.m. I was relieved to get off that damn plane (7 hours of Jim Carey films is really too much--"The Majestic" is such an incredibly bad film that it seems like it lasts for all eternity). I was sooooo happy to see my little yellow bug sitting patiently for me in the parking lot. It popped its little trunk so that I could load my suitcase in, and then it swung the driver's-side door open so I could get in and start it's kitteny-soft engine. Purrr we went down the highway. I got home and everything was right. The garden had grown a lot. The cat's were glad to see me. I slowly unpacked a few things (mostly laundry), stopped by to see my cat-sitting neighbours, and then left to do a quick grocery stop. Back at 8:00. Ate. Asleep by 9:00. Purrr. My last day in London started off badly and ended superbly. My allergies really acted up in London (in comparison, back in Montreal, I'm virtually symptom-free). I left my hotel at around 10:00, but nothing is really open on a Saturday before noon. No coffee, and most importantly, no toilets. I walked around miserably waiting for any kind of institution with facilties to open. Finally one did, and then I went into power spending mode. Explored some more boutiques in Soho and bought some herbal remedy things from Neal's Yard (as gifts, mostly). Walked to Piccadilly Circus to find that huge bookstore that Time Out talked about, but I think it had been taken over by a huge Virgin Mega Store (not a good thing). Walked back to the hotel for about 4:00 and napped. Met my friends B and A for dinner in a lovely place called the Jardins de Palais on Long Acre. What a feast we had. Lots of fish things in yummy creamy sauces. Wine. Chocolate for dessert and a fruity dessert wine that B insisted (rightly) that we try. A lovely dining room, with excellent service (actually too good, as I had to shoo a busboy away several times as he attmpted to take my appetizer plate away from me). B and A were excellent company and we talked about everything under the sun, from costume design to peaches. I loved my vacation, but I loved coming home. Real work begins tomorrow.


London, Day 10 This is likely my last post from London, as I head off to catch my flight earlyish tomorrow. I went on a bit of a shopping binge yesterday, trying to find gifts to bring back for people, especially my kind neighbours taking care of the kitties. I've mostly concentrated on trying to find things that I couldn't get elsewhere--*knickers* from Marks and Spencers, some lovely tops, some really beautiful square pillow shams for the living room in an Indian motif, cool cosmetic thingys, teas, tinctures, and tins of biscuits. Went to the White Horse for my last Friday night pub night. A different pub from last week's, this one was just full to bursting, people spilling out all over, broken glass on the cobblestones. A real mixture of people from all over Europe. I had a great time, but this time I stopped drinking at a certain point. Today, I'm just going to hunt around Covent Garden and Piccadilly Circus for a few things (there's a bookstore I want to go to), then I meet my friend B and his girlfriend for dinner. That's all from London.


London, Day 9 I know, I know. I have a couple of days of catching up to do. When I wrote my previous entry, I *was* really hungover. But, I don't understand why. I left the production company with my friend J, who works there (he's the really tall guy in the pictures from the pub night I linked to earlier). He had kindly agreed to host a dinner party for me, and I left early with him to help prepare all the food. We stopped at Tescos to get the last remaining things we needed and then off to his sweet house in Brixton that he shares with 4 other people. He prepared really excellent Spainish food. It's amazing how tasty things can be using only a few ingredients. Chicken wings. Chorizo. Peas and chorizo. Meat balls. And the best: Toast some bread, take a ripe tomato and slice it in half, rub it's juices all over the bread, drizzle really good olive oil on it, and add a bit of salt if you want. So freakin' good. I helped prepare the toast. So, I guess I had a lot of time to drink wine. My friend B and I were the last to leave (it was well after 1:00 a.m.). Like the bread, I was toasted. Totally. They poured me into the cab that B and shared, me to my hotel and then B to his flat in Bethnal Green. I had a bit of a walk to my hotel from where the cab let me off and it took all my concentration *not to stagger*. Back in my room, I drank a ton of water, had lots of ibuprofen, and fell asleep immediately. When I woke up (around 10:30), it was raining. I had missed breakfast anyway (they stop serving at 9:00), so I just went back to sleep for a bit. At about noon, when the chamber maid woke me, I decided that I really needed to get up and out. Moving very slowly, I showered, dressed, packed my little napsack with the days neccessisities (water and ibuprofen), got a coffee and made my way to the internet cafe, where *all* I was able to do was write yesterday's paltry paragraphs. I went back to my hotel and slept until 4:00. At 6:00, there was a Softimage London User Group meeting. I met a few more people that I had corresponded with over the years I've spent at Soft. And I drank lots and lots and lots complimentary mineral water. Got home at around 11:00 and caught an in-depth documentary on ITV on the porn industry. Very illuminating. Apparently, you can show a flaccid penis on British TV, but not an erect one. They showed a lot of flaccid penises. Not sure what I'm going to do today except meet my Soho buddies for a goodbye pub night later this evening. I had intentions of seeing the Chelsea flower show, but all the tickets are sold out. It would have made me jealous anyway. I am getting homesick, and I miss my little garden and my little furry guys (Benny, Rosie, Nomar, and Punkin). And I miss my friends. One thing I must say is that having internet access while I'm away has been amazing. Getting email from my pals at home, and being able to share my exploits with you via this blog has been really great.


London, Day 8 Okay. I'm horribly, horribly hung over. My first hangover in London. Hooray! How, you ask, did I get here? I walked around Soho yesterday, knowing that I would meet my friend and colleague S to meet some clients at a 3D production company later in the afternoon. I found the coolest watch. The strap is a highway, and on the highway is a little pink bug. Cute. This is actually all I can write for now. I'll catch up with you all later...


London/Cambridge, Day 7 Before describing my day, I have to rant a little about the public phone system here. It sucks. My hotel has a public phone (non BT) that requires you to put money in some time after the person answers, which coincides with a little light going on. I fucked up. I missed my cue. I gave up on that phone and found a box that was clearly marked "Cards and Coins", meaning it should take both money and either a phone card or a credit card. First, try finding a bleeping phone card. I can find International cards, but few people sell BT phone cards. It's hit or miss whether my credit card works. Booths sometimes won't take coins, though they say they do. So I carry a lot of change. You need to, as you are charged for the amount of time you are on the phone. I can't tell you how often I've been cut off because I didn't put money in on time. And I roam from booth to booth trying to find the perfect match between me and the phone system. Unlike North America, where it's dead simple to rent a temporary cel phone, here it's quite difficult. I miss my cel. I miss being able to make a phone call from any booth and talk as long as I want for a quarter. I caught the train to Cambridge yesterday from Liverpool Street station. It was a milk run route that took me through some fairly non-descript villages, but the countryside got prettier and prettier the further I got from London. I arrived just after lunch and walked from the station to the centre of town (about a fifteen minute walk). Cambridge being a very green space, I figured I'd find a little park to eat the cheese and fruit I'd brought with me before exploring Cambridge proper. There was a little common (behind the bus station, I learned later), and I sat down on a bench. An older gentleman sat down beside me a few minutes later. He started talking to me ("Where you from?" "Oh really? Oh my parents went to Niagara Falls. Is that near where you live?" "You have nice hair."). He had that English drawl that I usually associate with groups of older English women (think of Monty Python's Diesel Engine skit), that made him sound either very patient or very simple. Giving him the benefit of the doubt, I was polite, but each question made him inch closer and closer to me. Sensing danger, I stood up and said that I must be going. He held out his hand to shake mine. I'm such a polite Canadian girl, I shook it and then he kissed my hand. Ewwwwwwwww. Before delving into Cambridge's architecture, I figured I'd look in some of the shops. I reckoned it was a good time as any to get undies from Marks and Spencers. I choose some panties and a few bras to try on. When I got to the changing room, the lady asked my if I wanted to try on the "knickers" I had in my hands. That word just makes me giggle. So, yes, I bought some knickers, but no bras. I wandered around Cambridge, whose centre is incredibly tiny. The various colleges and chuirches are impressive, but I think I was a bit touristed out and only took interest in the statue of Henry VIII with a bunch of pigeons on his head. I was to meet Lisa at about 6:30 at the Border's book shop cafe (yes, it's a Starbucks). I got thare about 45 minutes early, so started reading abunch of celebrity biographies (Cybill Shepperd, Madonna) and then switched to really big book on the history of hacking, which had a CD-Rom of all the postings the author had collected since the mid-seventies on phreaking (phone scams) and hacking in general. Geek heaven! I had no problems spotting Lisa right away. I was busy cleaning tables at Starbuck's when she walked in (the tables were a mess, they had run out of cups, the guy behind the counter couldn't identify the mint tea in the tea caddy...sheesh!). We chatted for a bit and then headed down to Jesus Green for the Cambridge Beer Festival. A bunch of her friends were there, including Jack and Heather, Jim (of "curse you, Jim" fame), Mickey, and a bunch of other people whose names I can't remember (and I only had 2 pints!). It was good fun standing about, "taking the piss out of one another" and balancing cheese plates in one hand and a beer glass in another. Lisa, you're a fun and beautiful gal, and I definitely will spend more time next time. Alas, I had to be back in London today. The train ride home was uneventful, except for the two men (unrelated) who picked their noses the whole ride home. The train took a slightly different route back, as it was heading for King's Cross and not Liverpool Street station. We passed through two villages that my parents lived in for a while--Hitchin and Stevenage--and it was unexpected to see these familar names on railway station signs. I'm proud to report that I sucessfully negotiated my way back to my hotel, which is conveniently located next to several stations on the Northern line. Get this: This line is actually two lines, which meet at Euston Station. I easily found the *other* Northern line, but wonder why they simply don't call it something else. Taking it easy today. Just going to wander around and then hook up with some friends later today. I'm just going to let London happen to me. p.s. Thanks for the emails! I enjoy getting them!


London, Day 6 Spent pratically the whole day at the Tate Modern. Time Out compares it to the Musee d'Orsay in that it's a recovered industrial building. What I remember most from the Musee d'Orsay is the light coming in through the glass ceiling. There wasn't much sun yesterday (surprise!), but the entry ramp down to the first floor is impressive. Photos from the building before it was renovated reveal the space pretty much as it is now, but with lots of interesting rusty bits, which added colour and warmth to the space. Sadly, these are gone. For those of you from Montreal, a similar renovation (on a much smaller scale, of course) is Discreet's renovations on Duke Street. The Tate should have kept all the boilers. Inside, the collection is quite impressive, highlighting both famous contemporary artists and some I've not heard of before. Memorable for me was: The Rothko room: Always a favourite with me. They always induce some kind of meditative state. They should put little cots underneath what are mostly mauve-coloured canvases for people like me who just want to have a little dream under them. The Pollack stop: One of Pollack's smaller action paintings, accompanied by audio recordings of everything from whether Pollack is the greatest American painter of all time to whether Lee Krasner was gyped out of a career of her own (there was a Lee Krasner there as well). Richard Long vs. Claude Monet: In this corner, one of those damn waterlilly paintings. In the other corner, a new work, done especially for the space, of a waterfall. The latter is a big, monochrome rendition of foam and water cascading down the entire wall. The former looks grubby and dirty and blurry in comparison. Long wins! Dan Flavin: The king of fluorescent lights, there's nothing like the hum of the lights as you walk through the room filled with his work. Rebecca Horn's piano: A grand piano is suspended from the ceiling. As I enter the room, it's playing tinnily. Amused, I'm the only one to walk and stand right underneath the work (I'm so trusting). As I check out the other pieces in the room, the top of the piano bursts open and all the keys fly out. Wicked! Boccioni's piece: I can never remember the name of this piece, but it's that famous Futurist sculpture of what is essentially a man in motion. He's vital, he's sexy, and he's made of bronze. A man clearly going places. I left the museum at about 5:00 p.m. and walked along the south bank. Looking at the map, I thought it would be a long walk to the Westminister bridge and the Houses of Parliment, but it wasn't. I passed the London Eye, British Airway's huge slow moving ferris wheel that gives you quite a good view of London. I *had* to take it. It was a tad expensive at £10.50, but I got some good aerial shots of other people below me. I walked over the Westminster bridge and then got a little bit lost. I found myself walking through St. James park. Exiting, I thought I was at Nelson's column, but was in fact at the Duke of York's column (it was big, so I just assumed). I kind of got my bearings and thought I was heading towards Trafalgar Square, but ended up in Picadilly Circus instead. Seeing that the now familiar Shaftesbury avenue hooked up there, I eagerly followed it to the Sainsbury's, where I bought wine, cheese, and some salad and went back to my hotel to read the Tate Modern catalog and fall asleep to a Jean Claude Van Damme film about hockey (he plays a French Canadian, and it's full of 80s hockey stars like Luc Robitaille. They *all* have mullets!). p.s. You can check out pictures of Friday's pub nite here. Lots of my hair, and some height comparison shots.


London, Day 5 Before leaving, I bought Timeout's London Walks. Yesterday, being a rather sunny and warmish day, I decided to head out for an area I likely wouldn't go to otherwise...Knightsbridge. I chose one of the longer walks, thinking that the 5 and a half hours they slated for the walk would be long enough to see me through the day. They didn't say that I was going to be passing by a number of shops. Anyway, I saw Kensington Palace (where Princess Margaret, Diana etc. had an "apartment") and sat in the gardens for a while. Then proceeded down Kensington where I had lunch at a chain called Wagamama, a very upscale noodle place. Fortified, I found a few shops, bought a lovely knit polo shirt and proceeded through Belgravia. The walk was really long, and I passed all these parks, which I desperately wanted to stop and rest in. But, they were all private and I had to wait until I had walked all the way to Victoria Station before I found a public space. Like most train and bus depots, the area attracts a lot of homeless (there's a lot of homeless people in London--reminds me of New York in the early 80s). This little park was no exception, and I sat opposite several homeless men who, surprisingly, had a cel phone among them (didn't I report earlier that there *are* thousands of cel phones here?). Another man sat beside me briefly. He spoke to someone in his head, and I heard phrases like "I bet she was a brunette before becoming a blonde," and "Tell me: who raped Marcus?" and "Shall I bring water or cheese?" Each remark was followed by a chuckle. He left after awhile. Although the walk suggested I continue from Victoria Station to Picadilly and then towards Covent Garden, I just couldn't. Happily, I had picked up a bus route map and found several buses that would give me a good tour of London and take me back to Tottenem Court Road and Oxford Street, which is near my hotel. For £1, you can't beat that. Once off the bus, I stopped in Sainsbury's to pick up a snack. It was really full of people doing the same thing. It's amazing how much pre-cooked and pre-packaged food you can get here. I wonder if it's the same syndrome as I've experienced in New York. Lives are so busy and apartments (especially kitchens) are so small, that takeaway is a staple in people's lives. It sure has saved me a bundle in evening meals (in fact, I'm well under my spending budget of $100.00 CDN a day). Back at the hotel, I napped for an hour. I wasn't hungry, but decided to take a walk. Back down Gower street to Oxford, to Shaftesbury, to Neal, and I suddenly found myself back in Covent Garden. It was actually faster to walk than take the tube. I didn't realize how close I was. I sat in a cafe and ordered a mint tea. An American blues guitarist was playing and he was really quite good, and really played up his southern roots to the delight of the audience, who would imitate his American Southern drawl over their own German, French, and various Eastern Eurpean accents. Fun. Got back to my hotel in time to catch BBC2's report on football hooliganism. Since I'm not familiar with the style of reporting on the BBC, I don't know how much of it was sensationalized. Let's just say that there are small groups of organized football fans who love to fight and...ummm...like to do the Nazi salute and the goose step. And beat up people who are darker than themselves. Fell asleep to the very creepy Arlington Road. I now have something of a routine here that replicates my waking up process at home. Breakfast service ends at 9:00, so I try to make it down by 8:30 at the very latest. Everyone else seems to have showered and shaved before coming down. I just make sure that my hair isn't all cockeyed, pull a sweatshirt over my pyjamas and go downstairs to the breakfast room. Only later do I have the attention span required to clean myself up and think through what I'm going to do and how I'm going to get there. Because the hotel serves the worst coffee in the world, I stop at a little Italian cafe nearby, order a latte, sit outside, and collect my thoughts. Finally, I come here to the interner cafe and write my blog before heading out. That's pretty much how I function when at home. Today the Tate Modern and tomorrow Cambridge to romp with Lisa.


London, Day 4 It *did* stop raining yesterday, so off I went to Portobello Road. Portobello Road is, for me, the place where Paddington went to visit Mr.Gruber for something mysterious called "elevenses". I didn't see Paddington, although there were many stuffed replicas of him, and I suspect Mr.Gruber must be dead by now, as he was already very old when I read the Paddington stories as a young thing. (There's a man making the most disgusting horking and coughing sounds in this cafe. Must wash my hands before I leave. Lord knows *who* used this keyboard before me.) The Portobello market is quite fun, and I found a couple of tops there, one a very pretty reversible silk blouse that ties at the waist. I also found a cafe with a balcony on the second floor where I watched people for a bit and had a latte. Did you know that most restaurants here *do not know* what a long espresso is? They will, instead, bring you a double. Zing! Went out to eat with friends near Covent Gardens/Leichester Square in a chi-chi fish restaurant called Zilli's. They had a prix fixe menu for about £20. We ordered a mid-priced bottle of wine at £35 (that's over $70 CDN). The food was okay. The carrot and ginger soup was tasty, but my friend Luc at Bistro San Lucas in my 'hood makes the best soup anywhere, so I'm spoiled. The monkfish dish was a bit disappointing. Mixed with pasta, which I ate very little of, there was very little monkfish. The dessert was very good: a gooey chocolate-y brownie topped with what seemed to be homemade and very good pistachio ice cream. Okay, Lisa, Here's Maggie's Take on Lad Culture Lad culture is hard to describe. I did a search on the 'net and came up empty handed when it came to a definitive definition. Let's just say that its a sensibility informed by football hooliganism and breasts. I've found that there are different degrees of laddism in the men I've met, and in some it's completely absent. (There's a young man picking his nose beside me. Must wash hands soon!) One friend of a few years now is probably the most lad-like I know. He seems to be pretty much perenially single, rides a bike in competition, and--this is his defining lad-like feature--he is self-effacingly sarcastic most of the time. He's also exceptionally funny, and his put-downs are often what North Americans would consider politically incorrect. I know I should be completely appalled by this. But I'm not. A couple of years ago, while having dinner with this lad and his different-degree-of-laddishness pals, he made a puppet out of his steak. It was incredibly rude *and* hysterically funny. I was charmed. I *was not* drunk, if that's what you're thinking. Friday this lad brought one of his lad-pals, who immediately engaged me in a conversation about breasts in general, and mine somewhat tangentially. The rest of our conversation consisted of implied sex and various body parts. Throughout the whole conversation, he was completely self-effacing, making remarks that he was perhaps not worthy of me and at the same time paying me all kinds of compliments. If I left at any time, he'd look at me with downcast eyes and say, "I'll miss you." This is flirting, lad-style. These guys are not relationship material. These are not life partners. It may even be difficult to be friends with these guys. But flirting with them is dead simple and completely amusing. The sensitive North American male is nice, but I think these sweetly raunchy lads are charming. If only I could breed them together, then I would have the perfect man.


London, Day 3.1 I have an hour to kill before meeting a friend and his girlie for dinner near Covent Garden. This internet cafe is amazing (although annoyingly I keep on picking the keyboard with the bum spacebar. This one works, but it makes the most grating noise when pressed--like a staple gun). It is jam packed. There must be 1000 or more workstations here. You can buy an hour for a pound, or do like me and buy a 7 day pass for a mere £6. There are people from all over the worl here. The man beside me is consulting some site in an Eastern European language I don't understand. Behind me, someone is playing something that looks like Donkey Kong. Another man is gambling online. A woman is purchasing something with her credit card and is holding the card up to the screen to compare numbers. Another man is looking at her do this. Earlier, a man wearing headphones was laughing to himself as he chatted online. I haven't seen anyone checking out porn, though. Not yet, anyway. Other observations: - Everyone here has a cel phone. Everyone. And they talk on them while walking down the road all the time. And they will reveal the most intimate details in the process. "Yeah, I have a really bad day. I was slagged at work all day. Yeah. I'm going for a swim. Uh-huh. Yeah, I'll be in later. Yeah. All right. Bye." - This city is full of people. Exceptionally full of people. More people than New York. More people than San Francisco. More people than Paris. It's full of people. They're everywhere. - Tomorrow I'll try to tell you about English men and what makes them brazenly fun!
London, Day 3 Well, it's raining. The day I decide to check out Portobello Road market, it's raining. I'm hoping it will clear up, but locals indicate that doesn't really happen. So, yesterday, I made it to the British Musuem, which is really close to my hotel. I walked to Russell Square first, to check it out. Sat and read for a bit, and then went for a quick tour of the museum. Antiquities are not my favourite, but they do have the Rosetta stone and a number of fine mummies. Of course, there's the partially reconstructed Parthenon as well. Sat with it for a while as I consulted my guidebook. It's strange for me to see all these disembodied antquities. The remnants of the Parthenon consists of columns and friezes and many, many headless statues. In a museum stting, they seem to be simply disembodied bits of really old things that perhaps should have disappeared instead of being *rescued* from the heathens by the British. Yes, I know my Art history, and I know their importance to our own civilization. I just thought they looked lonely. They needed sunshine and bits of moss growing on them. I wanted to be able to touch them and sit among them. There was a lovely statue of Aprodite reclining on her mum's knee (part of a large frieze--both headless, of course). It would have been nice to join them. Left the British Museum to go to the John Soane Museum. Those wacky, wealthy 19th century Brits! The museum is housed in Soane's house, which is full of more disembodied antiquities. The museum itself spans the three townhouses Soane acquired and every square inch of it is covered in Greek and Roman bits, a Turner painter, some Hogarths (including the very fun Rake's Progress, the story of a lad who squanders his inheritance, marries a one-eyed rich older lady, and ends up in the asylum). On the very top floor, I was accosted by one of those eccentric old security guards who was an amateur scholar on everything Soane. He pulled out a very dogeared notbook full of his own drawings and pictures stuck with yellowing cellotape, and proceeded to enchant me for over 20 minutes with stories of Soane's collection, interests, philosophy (he was a little bit Gothic Revival and a little bit Classical). I then walked to Covent Garden, mostly to go to the Doc Marten department store. I was hoping that they still made those high-heeled Docs, but they don't, so I bought some cute sandals instead. Had a horrendously expensive lunch in a cafe just off Covent Garden (18£!, which is about $40.00--salad, glass of red wine, and an espresso). You can get much cheaper lunches, but I knew I wasn't going to eat for the rest of the day because I was meeting a bunch of people for drinks at a pub--and once I was there, I knew that the best I'd get until closing time (11:30 p.m.) was a packet of peanuts. Softimage has a general discussion list in addition to specific product discussion lists. The general discussion list has been, for many years, a place for people to take the piss out of one an other. I ventured into this group (consisting mostly of clients in and around London) about two years ago. Exchanging barbs with these witty, funny, twisted, and mostly sweet people has been an important part of my working day at Softimage. We gathered at a typical pub in Soho called the Blue Posts and had a great time. Some of the people I already knew, and others I was meeting for the first time. One of our clients, a crazy, tall Spanish programmer, has promised to make me dinner on Wednesday and invite a bunch of listers over. I've promised to meet him at his work and be his little assistant (this guy is big--well over 6' 5", if not taller, and he had to bend over so that I could hear him when he spoke to me). That's all for today. I hope it stops pissing rain. If it doesn't, I'll have to turn this into a museum day. I think I'll go look at contemporary art, though...