Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Confession


As you’ve probably figured out by now (being the most brilliant blogreaders in the world. G’ahead – revel in it), I watch reality shows.

I used to read romance novels when I was stressed/tired/busy/wanted a mental vacation. After I got bored with that genre (not as quickly as you might think – have you read some of the newer versions? I’ve seen them described as ‘porn for women’), I moved on to what I call “trashy mysteries”. Chick lit with a few murders and some mayhem, the ‘trashy’ appellation not at all a judgement about their worth, but more a statement about the level of emotional involvement (not much) required. These days, I usually go for something forensic (Kathy Reichs is a favourite). It’s like doing a jigsaw puzzle – smart enough to require some focus, but if you’re not in the mood, you can just sit back and enjoy the ride. It’s my way of unwinding.


In the past few years, I’ve watched reality shows. And – gasp – worse: I’ve enjoyed watching reality shows. Sure, I draw the line at atrocities like The Littlest Groom, Joe Schmo and Fear Factor (do I really need or want to see people eating vomit and fish gut shakes?), but overall, if the premise sounds even vaguely entertaining, I’ll watch at least a few episodes.


I have friends (and you know who you are) who scoff and mock, who say it’s scripted, fixed, a pox upon the earth and that it will rot my brain. I agree with the first three – they are more scripted than they pretend, they are often fixed and they are, when not restrained by at least a soupçon of common sense and decency, a pox upon the earth. Yes, they are my not-so-guilty pleasure, but no, they will not rot my brain.


Reality shows are not by definition evil. It’s storytelling of a different kind, just as TV is as valid a form of entertainment as a play (really, what’s the difference? Script, actors, directors, but with the audience geographically distanced). Not all TV, not all reality shows are horrible. The trick is to not be indiscriminate. Just as most people don’t mindlessly continue reading bad books, most people don’t mindlessly continue to watch irredeemably bad TV.


It’s all about balance. Reality shows are my fluff, my mental popcorn, entertainment for when I’m tired of thinking and need an undemanding laugh. The day the Mocking Ones (and you know who you are) read nothing but Shakespeare, Kafka and Ibsen, only watch serious, deeply challenging movies (with subtitles) and only listen to Wagner, I’ll accept that maybe they are sufficiently cultured to judge.


Until then, why don’t you pull up a chair and give one of the good ones a chance? You might enjoy yourself.


What’s your favourite guilty (or not-so-guilty) pleasure?

Monday, July 25, 2005

Dos and Don'ts of a Restorative Weekend

DON’TS:

Answer the phone.

Get up early.

Cook.

Think or talk about anything serious.

DOS:

Hang out with your mother and sister and meander around the St. Lawrence Market, checking out vendors, eating sushi and sausages (alas, no pictures this time).

Take pictures of your mother doing the chicken dance next to the smoked and headless chicken



Crop your mother looking spectacularly silly out of the chicken photo. If you value your life.

Have your unborn niece(s)/nephew(s) try on adorable alpaca sweaters with little sheep.



Crop your sister’s face looking spectacularly silly out of sweater photo. If you value your life.

Sense a theme about headless chicks. Restrain laughter in front of your sister. If you value your life.


Check out the
new exhibit at the Market Gallery called Heart-Shaped Box: A Poetic Reflection on the Rebellion of 1837. Get all verklempt over heartrending inscriptions on tiny boxes.

Get lost in looking at old drawings and photographs depicting your neighbourhood 100-150 years ago.
Squint, turn quickly and be convinced you can almost see the past just below the present.



Watch mindless TV (Big Brother 6) and good DVDs (Freaky Friday, Dead Like Me).

Wander around the neighbourhood with a friend (hi, Robin of the comments!), have lunch on a patio (again, no pictures, as said friend demolished the arty columns of dripping cheese on his French Onion soup bowl before the camera was out of the bag) and rummage through the Sunday Antique Market.


Take pictures of your friend’s new musical balls



Be given a USSR pin by a vendor and agree with your friend that this might qualify as a type of swag. Feel important.

Wait for blogreaders to have fun with concept of friend's new musical balls.

Ahhh…. That’s better.

Friday, July 22, 2005

Gotcha!



Life is hopping. Hopping so much, in fact, that I don't have time to be witty, pithy, wise or even mildly entertaining. Hence a cop-out photo of the Moocher in an embarrassing position to amuse you while I address the 1,758.73 things on my list.

p.s. Really. At least half of that is fur.


Monday, July 18, 2005

A Classic Andersen Outing

The highlight of the weekend was a visit from the radiant parents-to-be, which evolved into a quintessential Andersen moment. I should mention – for the purists among you - that although my brother-in-law was not born an Andersen, he is a naturalized one and well… just roll with it.

As has already been established, we’re Danish. When Danish people tell their friends they were out, the first question is invariably “what did you have to eat?” - we’re European and live to eat. My family has taken this trait to a new level and has combined the love of food with an almost unholy fascination with photography. We not only take photos of people during a meal, but also of the meal itself and the eating thereof. Usually, half our vacation snaps involve food.


Back to the weekend.
We took The Tinks to lunch and as they wanted Asian, we went to Spring Rolls, home of delicious food, large (and beautiful) portions, with low prices. One highlight was the Sweet and Sour Soup (incredibly yummy, albeit so hot it caused a spontaneous eruption of blue flames from both nostrils, leaving the walls a smidgen scorched):




The Tinks were very hungry and when finished, their mother felt compelled to decorate the remains:



Dessert? The family motto is “life is uncertain, eat dessert first!” (we’re working on the Latin translation and crest development), so naturally there was dessert. At this time in a meal, we tend to abandon any pretense of dignity and luckily, John fits right in:



It was mango crème brûlée. I’m sure you would have licked the bowl, too.

The Tinks were happy and are here shown in their natural habitat, post-prandially. We’re pretty sure this is only part babies, resting on a cushion of lemongrass chicken and various desserts.

Monday, July 11, 2005

Circle of Life

I’ve spent the past 3 days wondering how you follow a post about a terrorist attack. There is no natural segue from that.

Then I decided to follow the example of Londoners and bloody well get on with life. And what better way than….


Introducing (drumroll, please)....
My brilliant sister, Janne (who would be my favourite sister, even if she wasn’t my only sister) and my talented brother-in-law, John, who, needless to say, is my favourite brother-in-law:



who have been so brilliant and talented (and efficient) that they have created some pretty special magic. Introducing (double drumroll, please):




We call them The Tinks and already, they have brought much joy into our lives. I can’t wait to meet them, which should happen in about 6 months. I have elaborate plans to spoil and corrupt them, but hereby promise to not take them to get tattoos until they can vote.


Thursday, July 07, 2005

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Incensed


I’m on a newsfast these days. What happens in the world upsets me beyond measure. I do check the headlines of The Toronto Star every day and read (some of) The New York Times on Sundays, but I am no longer well-informed. And I never watch the news on TV.

The faces of the poor, sick and maimed haunt me. The images of mayhem and death seem permanently lodged in my mind’s eye. The incandescent rage at leaders who do not lead, who are concerned only with re-election and the special interests of their rich cronies, instead of creating a liveable future for us all, threatens to overwhelm me when I am too aware of the news. The disgust at a media which has become not about sober analysis (and exposure) of world events, but ratings, access, sycophantic arse-kissing and blatant bias reduces me to sputtering incoherency every time I turn on the TV (with the sole and occasional exception of the CBC).

And now the G8 are meeting in Edinburgh, staying in a beautiful castle, barricaded and isolated from the very people who gave them their power. From their comfy perch above us all, they are already now, before the meeting, preparing us for what will not be accomplished, what will not be acted upon. It takes time to end poverty, they say, and dealing with climate change is complicated. While they wank their way through expensive dinners with good wine, a continent is dying, every year in the arctic the ice melts earlier and the West continues to treat the planet as their very own inexhaustible resource.

When will we hold our leaders accountable? When will we force them to take care of humanity’s future, not just our own immediate comfort?


Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Going Too Far?


After a thoroughly gasping hot week (or it might have been an eternity – I can’t remember), it finally cooled down a bit this weekend. It was a huge relief after temps as high as (with humidex) 44. For non-metric users, that’s 111F. That’s enough to fry an egg on the sidewalk, I think, and if I’d had any (eggs, that is), I’d have given it a try. Instead, I stayed mostly inside, praying to the gods of air-conditioning and going stark raving mad from cabin fever. Which, if this trend of oven-like temperatures continues for the rest of the summer, might work out, as only mad dogs and Englishmen would go out in this between 11am-7pm and as soon as I figure out what dog I want to be, I’ll be out there with the rest of the crazies.


Anyway, back to the weekend. Thanks to a brisk wind from the north, things cooled way down. It was cool enough for a sweater and so windy that it was impossible to get a stirring picture of the Maple Leaf fluttering majestically in the breeze at our building’s Canada Day BBQ. Instead, it sort of writhed frantically.



There was food, there was talking, there were kids running around, there was dancing. It was an excellent party, hosted by the indefatigable Barb (who has forbidden me to post pictures of her under pain of death, which I'm respecting even though - or maybe because - I have a really excellent one of her threatening me with a very large knife) and supported by her husband Martin (a.k.a. The Celtic Warrior). And then things might have gotten a little out of hand. I had nothing to do with it, I swear. I did not suggest at any time that we engage in anything untoward. Honestly. I just took the pictures.

Towards the end of the (alcohol-free) event, a spontaneous game of “show the flag a good time” sprang up:





I hope Canada’s laws about what you can and cannot do with our national symbol are as laid-back as the rest of the country. Otherwise, I might just have confirmed why CSIS should be watching me.

Friday, July 01, 2005

An Immigrant Moment



I was born in Denmark and spent the first 20 years of my life there. In 1982, my parents decided to go to Canada for a couple of years and as I couldn’t bear to live in another country than my family (and was thoroughly disenchanted with studying English at the university there), I decided to come, too. I hated the thought of leaving. I hated seeing the house in boxes, I hated leaving my friends and extended family, I hated leaving everything I’d ever known. I put down roots deep and it was painful to pull them up.

But Canada awed me from the word ‘go’. Its vastness blew me away – I counted 12 lanes on the highway going from the airport (and coming from a country where the biggest highway had 4 lanes, this was something), the distances (I remember being overwhelmed that it took a drive of a whole 20 minutes to get to the mall) and wow… the people (did they all have to speak so fast?). I fell in love without knowing it at first, but soon realized that this was one of the best things that had ever happened to me.

Denmark is still in many ways my home – it’s where I come from, it is in me on a cellular level. But Canada is the place where I choose to make my home now and where I want to stay - so far, the 'couple of years' has been 22. (as an aside, this pull of two lands cause a complete short-circuit whenever Denmark and Canada meet in an Olympic event…)

I love my adopted country for its newness and excitement, its friendliness, its nature, the opportunities it’s given me to start over and do what my heart desires without being blocked by physical barriers. I love the mix of cultures here – going outside my door is like travelling the world. I love the tolerance and social conscience of the place. I love that I have found a chosen family of friends who makes me feel like I belong. My roots are down deep here.

Happy Canada Day!