Wednesday, March 28, 2007

not the Tom Jones that lives next door...

Oh yes! They've done it again.

The latest installment of the Barenaked Ladies Bathroom Sessions takes them back to their brilliant first album, Gordon.


who are you?

Check this out!

You too can find your celebrity look-alikes!

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

a very good year...

We recently enjoyed a bottle of 2005 El Burro Kickass Garnacha from Spain. I'll admit that I didn't expect much from this bottle. I bought it for two reasons. One, there was a picture of a donkey on it and two, it actually had the word "kickass" on the label. Yeah, I know, not too mature but what can I say. I'm a sucker for a good gimmick.

We were pleasantly surprised by this one. It didn't smell like much at first. The aroma was quite mild and flowery. But the flavour? Wow! Strong, spicy & woodsy right off the mark, lingering into a gentler ripe berry finish. Not bad for $12.15 at the LCBO. Even Frank approved! He doesn't allow photographs of himself with just any ass!

Monday, March 26, 2007

Some Fantastic

Here's just one reason why I love the Barenaked Ladies.

Ed Robertson has posted a whole bunch of videos to You Tube of him performing acoustic versions of BNL tunes in his bathroom. Yes, that's right, his bathroom. This takes singing in the shower to a whole new level!

Some Fantastic is one of my favourite BNL tunes. This version is, well, fantastic!

Sunday, March 25, 2007

glitter and be gay

A few weeks ago as I was riding the TTC south from Yorkdale to Museum, I noticed a rather curious advertisement. "A club with benefits" read the sleek, black background poster showing pictures of hard bodied men, pools and showers. The ad was for a "gym" called Steamworks. In addition to the "state of the art gym, huge hot tub, steam room, dry sauna, showers and incredible sound system" it touted its "over 70 private rooms" Hello! This ain't no ordinary gym! This was an ad for a men's bathhouse, conveniently located in the heart of Toronto's gay village. Wow! I couldn't believe that the TTC actually allowed it. Not that it bothered me personally, but I was sure the homophobic crowd would totally freak and well publicized controversy would ensue. Of course, Steamworks is a legitimate business with a specific clientele and the TTC seemed like a logical choice for advertising. I just assumed that the TTC would choose not to allow this business to advertise for fear of the backlash from those out there who are too thick to realize that gay, lesbian, transgender and bisexual individuals are people too.

I was thrilled to see an article in yesterday's Globe and Mail about the ad. The TTC has received a whopping 3 complaints about the ad. In a city of over 2.5 million people, only 3 complained. So either people don't realize the type of business being advertised or they don't care. I certainly hope it is the later. Steamworks has as much right to advertise publicly as Telus with their adorable animals and Dove with their realistically shaped models. Kudos to both Steamworks and the TTC. And way to go people of Toronto! Hopefully this is a positive sign for the future of humanity!

Saturday, March 24, 2007

papa's got a brand new bag

I have been thinking seriously about how to reduce our household waste. One thing I hate is the amount of plastic bags we end up with, especially after grocery shopping. We try to reuse them, but eventually they still end up in the landfill. So I'm looking into other options.

Fortinos, our local grocery store, sells these purple, plastic bins to cart your groceries home in. They look like those green, rectangular recycling bins. I haven't been able to find any information about them online, so I'll check it out when I go grocery shopping tomorrow.

In last Saturday's Globe and Mail, there was an article in the Toronto section talking about how Costco is selling reusable tote bags. They are huge, measuring a half-meter in length, 38 centimeters tall and 30 centimeters wide. The bags are made of a durable woven poly-propylene. Apparently they are strong enough to carry up to 40 kilograms in weight. They come in packs of two bags and sell for just $1.99.

We headed over to Costco this morning to pick up a few of these bags. They were completely sold out. Not great for me, but how fantastic is this? Hopefully it means that others are also looking for ways to cut plastic bags out of their lives! The article in the Globe mentioned that other grocery store chains are also offering reusable shopping bags and most of them are sold out as well. Very encouraging news!

hips don't lie...

A few of the ladies and I went to a "Goddess Gathering" last night as part of our (almost) monthly Girl Friday ritual. The evening consisted of belly dancing and meditation with the idea of awakening the goddess within. We arrived in our comfy clothes, our yoga mats in tow. We added our names to the mailing list and paid our $20. There were about 15 women in total, 9 from our group. After a brief introduction where we traced our maternal ancestry and declared ourselves 'daughters of the Goddess", we launched into the part that drew us there, the belly dancing. We were given hip scarves to wear, some adorned with jingling coins. Tahira Badre skillfully guided us through the individual moves that together form the beautiful art of belly dancing. It didn't take long for my body to start asking me what the hell I thought I was doing. I discovered muscles that I didn't know I had. As my body cracked and popped I thought of how my everyday routine is made up of the same movements, over and over. I'm sure there are joints and muscles in body that haven't moved since grade 9 gym class.

I was reminded quite quickly of how uncoordinated and clumsy I am. In my late teens and early 20's, I had excellent balance and the ability to pick up dance moves relatively quickly. Now, not so much. For the most part, I could handle the individual moves on their own. But add the hip shimmies to the shoulder rolls to the arm movements and I was a spastic mess. (Not to mention the fact that I am now at least 50 lbs. heavier than in my amateur musical theatre days.) I was thankful that there were no mirrors in the room and the lights were turned down low! Luckily, most of us were in the same boat. And as bad as we were at it, it was so much fun! We laughed at ourselves but kept plugging away, even as our bodies ached from the repetitive movements.

After about an hour of this, we paused for meditation. I have attempted meditation only 2 or 3 times and I suck at it. I have zero attention span and am just so used to having a million things in my head at once that I just can't slow my mind down. Elizabeth & Erica, who practice yoga, told me that it took them a long time to get to the point where they could really do it. This made me feel a bit better.

We did another half hour or so of dancing, this time with veils. Here I was reminded of the incredible sensuality of this dance. And although my shoulders were burning in pain, I enjoyed the power and freedom I felt maneuvering the veil. We ended with Tahira guiding us through a complete dance, incorporating all of the moves we had learned. She is an excellent instructor and as we tried our best to follow her, I was surprised by how many moves I could actually do! To the onlooker, I'm sure it wasn't pretty, but hey, I was working it!

We ended the evening indulging in some delicious chocolate cake and reflecting on the evening. I was exhausted yet rejuvenated. And everyone seemed to have a good time, which always makes me happy when I organize these outings. I have a feeling, we will be connecting with our inner goddesses again!

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

stuff that bugs me #1

The 2 or 3 of you that actually read my blog may have noticed that my entry titles have so far been snippets of song lyrics. Today I break the trend and introduce a new feature of the blog, "stuff that bugs me." I am generally a positive person and I try not to dwell on negative stuff, but sometimes, crap really bothers me! Usually, it has something to do with the way people behave in public but it can be anything that is out of my control. I figured the blog is as good a place as any to get this stuff off my chest. So hear we go.


Honest to freakin' God! Why is it so difficult to put trash in the trash! As I walked home from the GO station today, I counted no fewer than 30 discarded Tim Horton's & Starbucks coffee cups. Not to mention other random fast food wrappers, candy bar wrappers, etc. My walk is about 1 km through a primarily residential area but along a couple of major streets in town. Why does this happen?!?! Let's say you are walking down the street with a cup of coffee. You finish the coffee. Do you immediately throw it on the ground or do you carry it with you until you find a garbage can? I can honestly say that I have never seen anyone drop an empty coffee cup to the ground. So where is this garbage coming from? Are people really so lazy that they can't hang on to that cup until they find a garbage or recycling bin? Do they think that someone will come along and clean up after them? Doesn't this bother anyone else?

Saturday, March 17, 2007

living in a material world

Last week was official gadget week in our household. Instead of surprising him with a gift for his birthday, we decided that Steve should just go out and pick up the latest object of his technological desires. He is now the proud owner of an HP iPAQ rx5900 Travel Companion. This thing is a GPS, iPod, and Palm Pilot all rolled into one sleek machine. Steve is a very geeked out and happy man.

Not to be outdone, I picked up a brand new 13 inch 2.o GHz white MacBook, a wireless Mighty Mouse and the new Airport Extreme Base Station. Man, does Apple know how to do it right! As excited as I was to receive the shiny new equipment, I was totally blown away by the packaging. The smoothness of the sleek white boxes was overwhelming. Instead of tearing into the boxes like a kid on Christmas morning, I laid them out on the kitchen counter and took in the beauty of their simplicity. I caressed them as if they were made of cashmere. Slowly, I opened each box removing the layers of Styrofoam, cardboard and plastic with great care and gently laid the contents out before me. Once emptied, I replaced all of the packaging material back inside the boxes and closed them up. They now sit in a stack in the spare bedroom, looking as if they haven't been opened yet. Yes, I know it's silly, but something about these boxes is...special. How many companies actually take as much care and consideration in their packaging as they do in the product? It's like buying clothes in a high end shop, where they carefully fold the clothes and wrap them in scented tissue paper before gingerly placing them in a fine paper bag. It makes you feel like you have bought something very special. And I can assure you that in this case, I have.

And for the record I am in no way affiliated with the Apple Corporation. I'm just a huge fan.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

if I can, than I will wash it away...

Bum Rush the Charts

The idea is to make an independent music artist number 1 on iTunes on March 22, 2007 by getting as many people as possible to purchase one particular song by that artist on that day. The people behind this initiative have chosen Mine Again by Black Lab. Why this song and artist? Well, Black Lab was were once signed to Geffen and once to Sony/Epic but dropped by both. Why? Good question! I was a fan of their music then am again after rediscovering them on the Podsafe Music Network. Check out the album See The Sun. This music is way better than the crap they play on Top 40 radio. But we don't hear this on the radio because this artist does not have the support of a major record label behind them. Well screw the record labels! We want good music!!! We want independent music!!!

Stick it to the man! On March 22, Bum Rush the Charts!

try a little kindness...

I set out on the QEW on this beautiful, sunny, Sunday afternoon to head to lovely Niagara-on-the-Lake. I was on a time line and a bit stressed having left about 15 minutes later than I wanted to. As it turns out, I never made it to my destination. Around Stoney Creek, just before the Fruitland Road exit I experienced the dreaded flat tire. On my brand new car!!! After hearing this enormous racket, I pulled over to the side of the road to find my right back tire completely flat. At that moment, I realized that I would not be making my meeting. (Trust me, it was one of those things that you just don't arrive late for.) I also had to acknowledge the fact that I had no idea how to change the tire. Yes, my father taught me how to change a tire, back in high school when I was learning to drive, but that was almost 20 years ago and I have never had to actually do it. The traffic whizzing by at 120 kms/hour didn't help either. Choking back tears, anger, helplessness & frustration, I called the Roadside Assistance number. After a minute of press 1 for this, press 2 for that, a friendly human voice greeted me. I was a bit hard on the poor guy, since I was pretty pissed that the car I have owned for less than a month had a flat. I think he understood my frustration when he asked how many kilometers I had on the car. My reply "1006", was answered with "..oh..". He was incredibly helpful and informed me that help would arrive within 45 minutes or sooner as he had me on the priority list. I thanked him and hung up the phone.

I sat in the car, trying to calm myself. After a few minutes, a tractor trailer sailed passed me, break lights on, tire debris and smoke following behind. A large section of the truck's tire landed on the road about 10 feet away from my car. That's the point that panic set in. Here I am pulled over at the side of a three lane expressway while the rest of the traffic slows down in an effort to avoid the tire debris. At that moment, I was just glad not to be outside of my car attempting to change the tire myself. I thought for sure that someone would smash into my car in an effort to avoid the crap on the road. About 20 minutes passed and the first bystander pulled over. A nice woman got out of her SUV and asked if I needed help. She said that she stopped because she saw that I was a woman and I was alone. I almost hugged her. While sitting in my car waiting for roadside assistance I kept hoping that no one would stop to help me. Isn't that crazy? I was afraid that a man would pull over to "help" and then rob me, beat me or worse. But because she was female, I felt safe and comforted.

I sat in my car for another 15 minutes when a white truck pulled up in front of me. A man got out and asked if I needed help. I replied with a hearty "yes, please!" assuming that he was the roadside assistance guy. He hauled the spare and the jack out of the trunk and went to work. He'd barely started removing the dead tire when a tow truck pulled up behind my car. I turned to the man and sheepishly said "you're not roadside assistance, are you?" He said he had stopped because he thought I needed help. I looked up at his truck and realized that his business had nothing to do with rescuing stranded motorists. He then replied, "I guess my truck confused you." At this point, I felt like a complete moron. I explained my mistake to the roadside assistance guy. He was very nice and as he left, informed me that I would not be charged for the call. At that point, I didn't care. I was completely embarrassed and angry at myself. Not only could I not change a tire, but I had apparently lost the ability to tell the difference between a tow truck and any other sort of vehicle. As my good Samaritan finished, I thanked him and offered him money, which he refused. I barely had enough time to get his company name and phone number off the back of his truck as he pulled away. As embarrassed as I was for being the helpless woman at the side of the road, I was grateful for the kind soul who took a few minutes out of his day to help a complete stranger. My brief encounter with the woman and man who stopped to help me has renewed my faith in humankind. People are good, we just get so wrapped out in our own lives that it doesn't always show. These two individuals have shown me the power of human kindness.

I'm still pretty emotional as I type this. I've always prided myself on being independent and self-sufficient. Today, I was not. I was completely helpless. This is not a feeling that I experience often and I hate the effect that it has on me. I am angry at myself for not being able to take care of myself. But I am relieved to know that there are still people out there that will go out of their way to help you. I just hope that I can return the favour someday.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

bottle of red...

It's time for another wine review!

I've been meaning to pick up the Finca Flinchman Expressions Malbec/Cabernet Sauvignon 2005, after my favourite wine writer, Beppi Crosariol recommended it in his January 27, 2007 Wine and Spirits column in the Globe and Mail. Once again, Beppi did not disappoint! It tastes like it smells, deeply fruity, spicy and full of oak. This one has a long, intense finish. $15.95 with limited availability at the LCBO. Grab it if you find it!

Sunday, March 4, 2007

i want to rock your gypsy soul


who could not love this music?

thank you, Van Morrison!

somewhere that's green

I spent three days off work last week with a cold. Totally alone, completely isolated, not able to do anything due to immense sinus pain and congestion for three, freakin' days!!! By the time I finally started to feel better I was completely stir crazy. So I was thrilled to finally leave the house on Friday night and join a few of the girls for some bowling. As usual, I was the worst bowler in the bunch and am carrying on my goal to never break 100. My best score on Friday night was 71, my worst, a brilliant 54. Yes, I suck, but who cares! Bowling is fun, whether you are good or bad. I was just glad to get out of the house and hang out with some friends.

On Saturday, I steered my lovely new car west on the 401 to Kitchener-Waterloo. After spending an afternoon with my parents and brother I headed over to Resurrection Catholic Secondary School to take in their production of Little Shop of Horrors. I have always been a big fan of this show and was thrilled when Christine told me that her school had chosen this show for this year's musical production. I showed up at the school a half hour early and was thrilled to catch up with my high school music teacher, who's eldest son, now in Grade 10(!), was playing the male lead. My only consolation in suddenly feeling really, freakin' old was that she probably felt a hell of a lot older. (Sorry Jen, you know I love you!) I also got to catch up with my friend Todd (Jen's brother) , who I probably haven't seen for about 17 years, since I graduated from high school. It's funny how with some people, even if you haven't seen them in forever, you can just totally reconnect with. I was so thrilled to catch up with him and hope to keep that connection going.

I found my seat just as they dimmed the lights, and managed to catch Christine's eye before the show started. I had a perfect view of the stage, but also of Christine, conducting the pit orchestra through the show. Quite often during the show, my eyes wandered to the pit, where I could see her arms expertly guiding the orchestra and singers through the score. I could feel the smile moving across my face each time a singer looked down at Christine for their cue. They were all relying on her for their next musical move. She was in charge and doing a fantastic job. Every student on that stage knew that all they had to do was look at her, and everything would be o.k. They all performed beautifully, regardless of talent or ability. Yes some of them were stronger singers/actors/dancers than others, but in the end, they were all having a kick ass time! You could see it in the twinkle in their eyes and the smiles on their faces. It didn't matter that they hit the high note or nailed all of the dance moves. They gave it their all and the audience loved it! They cast all of their fears and insecurities aside, got up on stage and performed in front of an audience. For a teenager, this is huge! These are kids who are ridiculed for wearing the wrong clothes, not having a cell phone, and countless other ridiculous things. These kids got up on stage, in make up and costume, and dance and sang, and jeopardized their street cred. They could easily be made fun of but instead, they got up there, gave it their all, and kicked some serious butt. Every one of the kids on that stage worked their asses off and it showed. The audience laughed, sighed, screamed and clapped in all the right places. And most importantly, these kids had a fantastic time!

Me, I sat in the audience for two hours with a huge grin on my face. Partly for these incredibly brave and talented kids but partly for me. I participated in many a musical in high school and university, on stage and in the pit. These are some of my fondest memories. I learned more from these few experiences then i did my in the first 20 years of my life. I made a lot of mistakes and did a few things really well but I treasure each experience equally. These experiences shaped who I am today and taught me so much. I am forever grateful.

a few of my favourite things

oh, yeah!

We picked up a bottle of Long Flat 2004 Shiraz from Australia. Words cannot express how much this wine has rocked my world! I'm a sucker for a good Australian Shiraz and this one kicks ass! The first sniff was full of spice and ripe berries. The first taste was caramel, blackberry and pepper. Later on, there were hints of black licorice. So many of my favourite flavours in one affordable bottle. (only $12.15 at the LCBO)

Ain't life grand!?!