Friday, December 21, 2012

Pixies are Christmas-y Right?

I saw Frank Black/Black Francis at Malkin Bowl years ago, opening for the Swell Season. It was a dream come true for Glen Hansard who told the story of his very first vinyl purchase, a Pixies 45, which began his love affair with the band, a formative force throughout his own music career. It was touching to witness his awe at sharing a stage with his hero and the collaborative pieces were a lot of fun. Being out in the gorgeousness of Stanley Park, the whole concert was rather surreal in its own immersed-in-music way.

When The Pixies added Vancouver to their tour, I bought a couple of tickets; ended up making friends with a woman who just happened to be in Vancouver, was a huge fan & needed a ticket; and added a new layer of alt rock to my musical experiences.

The Pixies concert was AWESOME. Yup.

Happy holidays!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Glee-ful, No More

Feels like I've been thinking too hard on these posts this week and I really wanted something light to ring out the year so here we go...


I bought this shirt when Lesley and I went on the Epic Birthday Trip to California mentioned in September. Our VIP tickets included a limited edition shirt red and white baseball-tee-ish shirt but it was of a less solid material than the ones at the merch tables so I bought another.

It was a pretty successful trip by all measures. We found our way there, had a pre-show meal of various appetizers, and enjoyed the kick-ass seats down in the lower bowl. Glee was still in the darling days of its premiere season and this tour was really testing the waters as to how far the fan base was willing to go to be a part of the New Directions adventures.

Some memorable moments included: Lesley getting to high-five the Season 1 leading men, Cory Monteith (Finn) and Mark Salling (Puck) as they came running through the audience; the usherette/dancers dressed as Cheerios and handing out barf bags before the show; and the performance of their cover of Salt 'n' Peppa's "Push It" that wasn't released as a cast recording until the compilation at the end of the season even though it appeared in Episode 2.

 This is still my most viewed YouTube video to date

***January 2013 edit***

The bloom had faded from my Glee fervor a long while ago but Season One will always be a fun and positive memory for me. Sadly, Season Two made show loyalty harder to maintain with spotty writing and improbable character twists. Even the music wasn't that good. (Especially in comparison to the Smash premiere season which delivered a more satisfactory story about musical theatre and the people involved in creating a show.) Season Three has been even more silly and unappealing. I have been completely unmotivated to follow Rachel and Kurt to NYC and the fact that most of the graduated class has reappeared in the halls of McKinley makes me paranoid about my own students never moving on beyond high school.

And then, like an unhealthy and worn-out relationship where the partners hold on out of nostalgia until one or both of the partners finally cross the line - physically, mentally, or emotionally - the show-runners of Glee irrevocably lost my support and viewership when they shamelessly ripped off the Jonathon Coulton acoustic cover of Sir Mix-A-Lot's "Baby Got Back" in a recent episode. You be the judge: 


In fact, with very little effort, you could probably find the sweet spot where these two versions sync up exactly (like a couple of Nickelback songs do) but the undeniable truth is that Glee stole Coulton's arrangement, timing and lyric changes while giving him no credit whatsoever.

So what does Big Butt Revenge look like? Coulton has cheekily covered the Glee cover of his original cover or, as he states on his blog, "which is to say it’s EXACTLY THE SAME as [his] original version" and is donating proceeds from the online purchase to charity. 

I've bought my copy and I'm considering buying copies for all my friends who have iTunes accounts. Maybe Glee won't notice that I've turned my TV off but hopefully they'll notice that their dishonest version is getting its butt kicked by the JoCo version on the Internet charts.

Yeah, so, maybe not so light a post after all... but better late than never.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012


I briefly mentioned my disappointment with the musical stage adaptation of Gregory Maguire's book Wicked back in September. (Funny how this week's posts have been referencing previous posts...) What I didn't mention at the time was that the stage production (as seen in London's West End) was also the single best merchandising enterprise EVER. The current online store is still very very good with the selection they offer but the lobby display back in 2007 was truly breathtaking.

Among the offerings, I found this baseball-style tee, a long-sleeved black tee with FLYING MONKEYS up one arm, black filigree wrought-iron jewelery with green Swarovski crystals (the "Elphaba" line), and a "Grimoire" created to document the development of the musical. And that's just some of the stuff I brought home. The music boxes, the witch hat umbrella, the souvenir brooms and stuffed flying monkeys... so much and more that I had to leave behind due to luggage or budgetary limitations. 

The "Defy Gravity" message is perhaps the only element of the novel that carried over to the musical in a recognizable form. Elphaba's need to break away from the established order and re-make the world (no matter how she is perceived by the very people she wants to help) drives the plot and might be the only sympathetic note the stage show struck in me.

Personal limitations, our own and those of others, are interesting things to mull over. I was inspired to write this post by my father's annual Christmas letter which showed up in my inbox yesterday. My father is a smart man in many ways - bordering on brilliant when in the field of his expertise - but has never managed to recognize his own limitations. These include most areas of English language mastery - small talk, puns, Christmas letters - and relationships with women in general. From the time I was seven, I was put in charge of editing/proof-reading the Christmas letter. Twenty-five years later, having been a lone satellite household for almost fifteen years, I divested myself of the duty as (it seemed to me) his compositions were actually getting worse and I realized that my altruism had limitations as well that were affecting my health: My bad grammar ulcer twinged (FACT) every time I opened my emails from him. Furthermore, he now had a whole new troupe of English-as-a-First-Language offspring living under his roof who should be putting in their time as proof-readers. Apparently, this duty was and still is beyond their limitations in my father's estimation as the half-sister I contacted hadn't even read the letter before it was sent out.

With a conscious effort at minimal belly-button gazing, my relationship with my father is a primarily nostalgic one. I am his first born and, by that right, I got him when he was young, energetic, and when the world really was limitless. And Mom and him were ALL MINE for YEARS, something I realized recently is truly immeasurable in value. By the time my brother came along, Dad's vision had begun to shrink down to very specific goals and values. It's a sad irony and truth that the bigger his house got, the more his world narrowed. I miss the father I used to dig up the garden with and who taught me to play soccer and swim. 

I happily give credit for a lot of my strengths and successes to my father's influence and example... and he would readily accept that credit as his due. In absolute truth, I wouldn't be who I am now if I hadn't been my father's daughter first. But his strongest legacy in me was never an intentional lesson - limitations need to be recognized if they are ever to be overcome. Otherwise, they act as herding influences, gradually eroding one's horizons and aspirations into something cold and tight and unsatisfying.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Sign Your Name

WAAAAAAAY back in October, I wrote about my REALLY good day in New York City when I saw The Book Of Mormon musical on Broadway. What I left out in the telling of the day was that, between the acquiring of the tickets for the show and going in to see the show, I stumbled upon Harry Potter: the Exhibition at the Discovery Times Square Exhibit Hall. It wasn't actually opening until the following week (when I would've been home in Vancouver) but they were doing a preview admissions that day so I not only got to explore before the massive crowds, I got the SHOP before all the merch was picked over.

This t-shirt is no longer available from the online store if it ever was available there. It's probably somewhere near the top of my "cool"est shirts. A co-worker who is a self-proclaimed Harry Potter fan complimented me on it before she even consciously noticed that it was Harry Potter related. At least that's what she said.

The signatures on the back of the shirt of the characters who comprised Dumbledore's Army in the Harry Potter books reminded me today of other documents that we sign. Petitions, contracts, licenses, constitutions, cheques, birthday cards. The social construct that permits a person to sign their name as a pledge or promise of support is a curious one. It imbues the signature with an almost supernatural power and that means that the ability to write is a type of magic in and of itself. Conveying an idea from the ephemeral to a semi-permanent medium that can be shared, reproduced, parodied, transformed, or otherwise become integrated into the collective consciousness. When we willingly combine that sorcery with the recognized power of a name, the signature becomes an understood oath, binding in legal, social, and faith-centred agreements. A signature on the D.A. list in the Potter-verse indicated an allegiance to an insurrection. A signature on the Declaration of Independence meant open rebellion. A signature on a marriage license (at one point in our history) committed the signatory to a union "until death do you part". Even today, when we consider ourselves to be an evolved species when it comes to family, a long-term relationship does not carry the weight, the rights, the sincerity of the officially signed, notarized, and witnessed marriage. It's an intellectual curiousity, really, when you think about it.

So, consider your commitments today. Where have you drawn your allegiances? 

Monday, December 17, 2012


I *think* I ordered this shirt online. Not sure *why* I did except that I've had a compulsion to read Archie comics since I was very little. My parents would never buy something as frivolous as comic books but my school chum, Mary, had PILES of them in her basement and in my most thoroughly bookworm-ish days, I'd lose myself in them during her parties... yeah, social skills probably weren't my forte at that stage.

So. Triangles. The Archie-verse is a good segue as there's the obvious Betty-Archie-Veronica example, followed closely by the Archie-Veronica-Reggie triad and the recently explored Jughead-Archie-"heterosexual female population of the world" hypothesis seen in Riverview High.

I'm a fan of triangles in general. They're naturally powerful and mysterious shapes. Might be a remnant of my Catholic upbringing or my Everything Irish Phase or the Drama Class where the visual importance of forming triangles on stage was drilled into us. BTW, yes, I also loved trig in high school. Want to visit the pyramids one day. Always like to put students into teams of three (especially since it's the easiest sizing to use in a class of thirty). As I gain life experience, I find the triangle of Life - work/play/rest - is a hard one to sort out satisfactorily. There's also the Logic/Spirtuality/Practicality trio... which is more of a Venn Diagram really. And wedding planning has taught me the fine tension between What You Want, What You Need, and What You Can Afford.  (Hmm... Yeah, I know I should probably have worked on that triumvirate earlier in life.)

Relationship triangles are useful narrative devices in television, movies and books that often further character and plot development, establish tensions and motivations, and provide opportunities for rivalry, cooperation, and betrayal. My current favourite television program is Lost Girl (despite the ridiculously long wait for Season 3 to start) and the show primarily focuses on the Dyson - Bo - Lauren entanglement, possibly the first mainstream television fully-realized bi-sexual relationship triangle. Correct me if I'm wrong.

For observers, well-written and developed relationship triangles are engaging because there's always someone to root for. Creating a third option (Cheryl Blossom, for instance) never amps up the tension because a tug-of-war really only goes in two directions. Add the third option and the centre of the conflict just starts to look fickle. And for those with a vested interest, there's usually a clear and obvious choice. 

Gotta admit that most of the hot new relationship triangles out there are beyond my sphere so please enlighten me to your favourite ones. What made it interesting? What made you lose interest? Are you a Betty or a Veronica? Team Archie or Team Adam? Angel or Spike? Xander or Oz? Can we please keep it Twilight-free?

Friday, December 14, 2012

Music T Friday: Coldplay

As I write this, 27 families in Connecticut are trying to figure out how they will move on with their lives. I'll keep this short.

I saw Coldplay in concert at Rogers Arena on June 20, 2009. We had seats behind the stage and that was pretty awesome because they were filming the show for their DVD release and, from our seats, we could see a lot of the effects up close that they were staging for the cameras. Most memorable was the balloons they released into the crowd for "Yellow"

And that's about all I have to say for this today's post. Anything more would feel frivolous. As the news continues to come in from Newtown, Coldplay's solemn lyrics and plaintive melody in "The Scientist" seems appropriate for the day. If only all those families could "go back to the start"...

Come up to meet you, tell you I'm sorry 
You don't know how lovely you are 
I had to find you, tell you I need you  
Tell you I set you apart
Tell me your secrets and ask me your questions  
Oh, let's go back to the start  
Running in circles, coming up tails  
Heads on a science apart
Nobody said it was easy  
It's such a shame for us to part  
Nobody said it was easy  
No one ever said it would be this hard  

Oh, take me back to the start
I was just guessing at numbers and figures  
Pulling the puzzles apart  
Questions of science, science and progress 
Do not speak as loud as my heart
But tell me you love me, come back and haunt me  
Oh and I rush to the start  
Running in circles, chasing our tails  
Coming back as we are
Nobody said it was easy  
Oh, it's such a shame for us to part  
Nobody said it was easy 
No one ever said it would be so hard 

I'm going back to the start

Thursday, December 13, 2012



Today's shirt is from the genius of Threadless and a few years ago would've been too controversial to wear to a high school as a large segment of the student body identified seriously with the "emo" philosophy. But, like all major cultural movements, "emo" grew to become a parody of itself. The word "emo" now holds the record for the most crowd-sourced definitions of any word in the Urban Dictionary, most of which are "taking the Mick", as my very-not-emo students in England would've said.

Now whether Shakespeare would've cared much for the poetic ramblings of today's over-sensitive, idle youth is not really up for debate. The only poem we know for sure that the actor, William Shaksper, wrote was that which was engraved upon his tombstone:

Good friend, for Jesus' sake forebeare
To digg the dust enclosed heare;
 Bleste be the man that spares thes stones,
And curst be he that moves my bones

A fun bit of verse but of a far different voice than that which penned Gertrude's grieving report of Ophelia's drowning:

"Ophelia" as captured by Sir John Everett Millais
There is a willow grows aslant a brook,
That shows his hoar leaves in the glassy stream.
There with fantastic garlands did she come
Of crowflowers, nettles, daisies, and long purples,
That liberal shepherds give a grosser name,
But our cold maids do dead men's fingers call them.
There on the pendant boughs her coronet weeds
Clamb'ring to hang, an envious sliver broke,
When down her weedy trophies and herself
Fell in the weeping brook. Her clothes spread wide
And, mermaid-like, awhile they bore her up;
Which time she chaunted snatches of old tunes,
As one incapable of her own distress,
Or like a creature native and indued
Unto that element; but long it could not be
Till that her garments, heavy with their drink,
Pull'd the poor wretch from her melodious lay

To muddy death.  - Hamlet: IV, vii, 162-179

Of course, that's a bit much to engrave on anyone's tombstone. The point is, though, that the body of work popularly attributed to Stratford-Upon-Avon's golden son was produced in relatively secrecy as history records the results and not the process. William Shaksper never signed his name to the works. Fact is that he rarely signed his name at all and never consistently.

Until I read Fred Faulkes' Tiger's Heart in Woman's Hide in 2007, in which the former librarian makes an argument for Mary Herbert Sidney, Countess of Pembrooke, as the true source of Shakespeare's works, I don't think I had a conscious opinion on the authorship of Shakespeare's works. In fact, I don't believe that I was even aware of a debate or controversy on the subject. I remember a short debate in passing in an episode of Head of the Class but they only mentioned Francis Bacon and Christopher Marlowe as candidates. Anyhoo, I recommend (to those interested and with a somewhat open mind) reading Faulkes' book as his research is exhaustive and thorough and takes into account human nature and the psychology of the times as much as normative cultural norms and documented events. And call it my own gender bias outrage, but the fact that the Wiki list of candidates has over SEVENTY possible alternative authors and only SEVEN are women (two queens of England and Shakespeare's wife Anne included and assuming that women weren't allowed in the Rosicrucian Society) makes me think that this theory has been overlooked rather ignorantly for a very long time.

Ultimately, the question of the authorship of the Shakespearean canon is purely academic and bears no effect on the writings at all. It is, effectively, the literal epitome of "moot". The works will outlive the people who debate it just as they have outlasted those who first performed and recited and read them. We will continue to study them whether they were written by the son of a glovemaker, a lady of means, or a Klingon bard. They are a touchstone in English-speaking culture - stories and characters and sentiments that tie us together with a common essence of humanity. I may refuse to teach R&J because Romeo's a putz and continue to feel all my days that Helena in Midsummer is hugely problematic (possibly in need of major psychiatric treatment) but I have yet to encounter a Shakespearean work that left me with a "meh" reaction. And that - that evocative and resonant nature in these works - is the true genius of the creator, no matter who SHE was.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Playing the Odds

**backdated AGAIN :)**

Changes in routine screw with everything. I usually take the daily t-shirt picture with my phone when I pick it out in the morning and then get dressed and get going. Today's routine changed because I had to pack a change of "teacher" clothes for parent-teacher interviews this afternoon and I got dressed faster than usual, forgetting to take the picture first. And since I maintain that this blog is not meant to be a vehicle for me to post pictures of my clothed chest online, here you get the first picture of a daily tee taken while at work (after I'd changed into my "teacher" clothes.

Shirt is yet another giftie from Kerri

I was aiming for the double entendre when I came up with my title today. ***Might've ended up with a triple.

The obvious reference is to The Hunger Games wherein the competitors are wished "May the odds be ever in your favour!" before being carted off to a "last one standing" melee to the death. It's like Survivor on acid - gladiator battles for the glory of a conquering entity, The Capitol. The books are a popular and not badly written trilogy. My favourite part, the epilogue of the concluding novel, is most people's least favourite but I maintain that even if a lot of the plot suspiciously shadowed that of Battle Royale, even if the movie adaptation took all the "hunger" out of the Games (and the casting was spotty), and even if the second book was mostly rehash and angsty filler, I will always promote Collins as a solid author for her respect for the trauma the protagonist undergoes and her understanding that "happily ever after" might not mean being happy every day onwards. Odds are, in my opinion, that the happiest moments in people's lives are times of ignorant bliss not mindful connectiveness and that's because connectiveness means recognizing the dark, the ill, the painful parts of one's heart and memory. What the characters in The Hunger Games go through cannot be healed without suffering.

The second original meaning to the title is a personal and localized reference to the CBC Food Bank Fundraiser last Friday held in Vancouver for the municipal Food Banks all around the province. The house band was local rock stars, The Odds. I honestly had never heard of The Odds until I moved to Vancouver for university in the 90s and my first experience with them was when I waitressed at the UBC night club, The Pit Pub, and they played a rare concert (possibly a one-off reunion gig since I believe that it was during their "hiatus" period) where I remember I set my personal record for tips for the entirety of my (relatively short) waitressing career. The clientele that night were a different set of folks from the usual broke undergrads that hung out at The Pit. They were mostly young professionals who had forgotten that beer on campus is FIVE dollars not FIFTEEN dollars a pitcher. Thanks to The Odds and their fans, I was able to invest in my first and only pair of leather pants. (Those sort of helped with the tips for a while afterwards too.) 

The Odds were a great house band for the CBC fundraiser last week and, as many local businesses were coming forward with "incentive items" to encourage donations, they decided on the spur of the moment to donate a house concert to a pledge contributor in the Greater Vancouver area. Their only contract rider? The winning contributor must provide beer and a ride home for the band. (It tickles my sense of humour that their rider includes an actual ride.) I tweeted the sentiment at the band's Twitter account and the response came back: "now everybody knows about our rider. Secrets out. We're simple people."

***sheesh, I just noticed that I went from the Hunger Games to a Food Bank fundraiser in the same post. Not intentional but kind of neat still***

***When I came back to finish up this post, I realized playing the odds in life can also result in those happy accidents - times when you beat "the odds", achieve the improbable, or stumble into genius. I attended a lovely event in Coquitlam last Sunday night hosted by a childhood friend who is deeply involved in her church and community. Sat across from me was another one of my elementary school classmates whom I hadn't seen since our undergrad days at UBC. She is a mother of FIVE. Five babies in eight years and all of them delivered by caesarian section. Talk about beating the odds. One of our other classmates who wasn't in attendance is a mother of four and that's after recovering from severe anorexia in high school and suffering several miscarriages after getting married as her body fought to get healthy enough to have a child. Another odds beater. And our hostess on Sunday night is expecting HER fourth in April. Really, what are the odds in this day and age that I could have three classmates who, between them, could field a football team of their children. After April, they could even pass for a Saskatchewan Grey Cup team. ;)

I have a student in one of my classes who is one of a set of triplets. Well, technically, she's a twin twice. She has one identical twin and one fraternal twin. They just happened to all be born at the same time. Now someone, get me the Math on that! Seriously.

These are not my students

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Snail Mail 4 Realz

Letter writing is rapidly going the way of the dial-up modem... or the Dominion of Newfoundland, a country in its own right from 1907 to 1949, which included its own postage. As with all things Newfoundlander in my world, my shirt today was a gift from Brian and Lori (now of Paradise, NL)

The stamp on today's shirt was issued in 1941
In preparation for our wedding in May, I sent out invitations in advance of the prescribed six month margin because I didn't want to have our cards jumbled in (and possibly lost) with the Christmas mail rush. I have to admit that there was something very satisfying about addressing and stamping envelopes and stacking them neatly in readiness to be mailed. Furthermore, I made our invitations by hand, designing the functionality of the card myself so there was a lot of personal pride invested in the project. But once I mailed the little darlings, there was the WAITING. It was HORRIBLE. In our world of instantaneous response - text, Skype, email - waiting the week or longer for a response to an invitation is TORTUROUS.

And then, just when I thought everything was going so smoothly...

I went to the post office (well, the counter in the Shoppers Drug Mart really) to mail my very last batch of invitations last week because I had run out of stamps for invites going to the US and beyond. I had stamped one for the UK with the last of my stock but needed a stamp for another. The clerk at the counter looked at the one I had stamped and pointed out that I was short three cents on the postage. I stared at her blankly... I had mailed ALL the previous international invitations using stamps that had been living in my wallet for who knows how long. The fact that I hadn't heard from the recipients yet I had chalked up to them waiting to see if they'd be able to attend, get flights and accommodations, etc. It had never occurred to me that the cards would be stalled due to insufficient postage. But I hadn't gotten any back from Canada Post either. ARGH.

I sent out a few frantic emails to see if folks abroad had received their invitations but haven't heard back from the ones overseas. It appears that the US recipients have gotten theirs okay. So I'm giving it a few more days and then I'm sending out second invites in Christmas cards just to cover my bases. I plan on having far more ridiculous things on my mind in the new year.

All that being said, letter-writing (and receiving) is something we shouldn't lose. Penmanship is another. So my challenge to readers is to pick up a pen and paper today and write a note to someone, anyone. Buy the stamp (for sufficient postage), lick the envelope flap, mail the darned thing. It's a little like the whimsy of sending a message in a bottle ... with a better chance of a response. It also reminds us that some things don't need to be done RIGHT. THIS. INSTANT. that patience IS a virtue and that snapshot of a sentiment you send might catch someone off-guard in a happy way just when they need to hear it not when you needed to say it.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Too Easy

:) Seemed perfect for a Monday posting...

The back is more interesting on this one...

One of the most excellent experiences in my life was the summer of 2010 when I attended Comic-Con in San Diego. In the course of 3 days, I had one-on-one conversations with Aaron Douglas, Guillermo Del Toro, Dirk Benedict, and Sarah Lancaster; sat in the same room as the television casts of The Big Bang Theory (with special guests The Barenaked Ladies), Sons of Anarchy, Chuck, and The Family Guy; had photos taken with David Hasselhoff, Amanda Tapping, Levar Burton, and Brent Spiner; and watched in awe/listened in adoration as Joss Whedon and JJ Abrams discussed the merits of television story-telling over film-making. Yes, I barely slept and the line-ups & crowds were absolutely crazy but it was an incredible time that I plan on reliving sometime in the future.

But even after I got home, the joy didn't stop. The lovely peeps over at
had a post SDCC contest where they awarded a random Twitter follower a skookum Mythbusters prize package. AND I WON!  Considering the Mythbusters Comic-Con swag bag was the one I dearly wanted (after already obtaining a Big Bang Theory one) but wasn't able to lay hands on legitimately or otherwise during the convention, it truly sealed the deal as the most improbable happy ending for my fairy tale visit to San Diego.  It's almost as if I really did reject all realities except the won in which I won. How cool is that?

My prize pack courtesy of

Friday, December 7, 2012

Music T Friday: Material Girl

Few performers have reinvented themselves as many times as Madonna Louise Ciccone has. When my cousin, Rozina, first introduced me to her music, the Like A Virgin album had just come out and I think my parents' poor grasp of English saved the six-year-old me any embarrassing talks regarding lyrics and their meanings. (As a side-note about an equally re-inventive superstar: I didn't think about the story told in Cher's "Gypsies, Tramps and Thieves" until well into my 20s... pretty sure Mum still doesn't realize what the song's about)

Today's Music-T shirt is from Madonna's 2008 Sticky & Sweet tour for the release of her Hard Candy album. It was the only time I've seen her perform live and our seats were on the floor, not that far from the catwalk thrust stage. It was an exciting night and a lot of my memories are more snapshots than a continuous video. I remember realizing that we were never actually going to get to sit in the seats we had paid for. I remember Madonna being extremely pissed off about the green smoke from the arena audience and threatening to leave the stage if they didn't put it out. I also remember I attended with a co-worker from the high school I was teaching at and that there was a woman in front of us - possibly high on ecstasy - who kept stroking everyone around her, until one woman to her left told her to stop it or she was going to "punch her out". The touchy-feely woman's companions tried to calm down the neighbour lady and eventually moved her into the middle seat to try to buffer her from strangers. Yeah, that totally didn't work.

Madonna was going through stuff at the time of the tour. She divorced Guy Ritchie by the end of that year and the overall impression I got from her performance that night in October was "angry talent". The music was good but the energy was definitely not upbeat, even when the song was. It felt like Madonna was at work, determined to get through the show but not really loving the experience. There was an underlying current of negativity which I'd never encountered at a show before or since. There's also the possibility that I was more sensitive to it then as I was a low point, emotionally, myself. Or maybe I'm projecting. Anyhow, as awesome as the show was, I wasn't motivated to see her again when she toured back to Vancouver this year.

I think my most positive Madonna associations will always be my childhood ones - dancing around my living room (where the stereo was) with my cousin in our pajamas, singing "Material Girl" and "Dress You Up" at the top of our lungs - or even my teenage years - recording videos off of MuchMusic and dubbing between multiple VCRs to create video compilation collections (I had no idea about video tape degradation at that time) I could play while I was doing homework (yeah, I couldn't have a stereo in my bedroom but a TV and two VCRs was ok *shrug*). Growing up with Madonna means maturing with her too and just as she hasn't come through the challenges of her life unchanged, neither have I. That's a neat realization (because getting through it is the point, right?) but there's a almost desperate nostalgia sometimes for the more light-hearted Shoo-Bee-Doo days before the world caught up with Susan.

Watch Madonna - Material Girl in Music | View More Free Videos Online at

Thursday, December 6, 2012


So my own t-shirt collection proved me a liar today. Last week, at the Barenaked Ladies concert, I told the girl next to me (the one who had gestures to match the lyrics in the theme song for The Big Bang Theory) that I had seen the band perform live for the first time at the Juno Awards in 2008. I had forgotten that they had played at this benefit concert I attended in 2002. It was a heckuva a lineup that turned out in memory of the organizer's wife, who had lost her battle in 2001 and the night raised $1.5 million for the new cancer research centre in Vancouver.

Since Jeff and I got together, both of us have suffered losses in our life due to cancer. 

In my case, it was first a former vice-principal, Lorne Bodin, whose passing in January 2011 was not only a loss to his family, friends and colleagues but all the students he had taught and administered to over his far-too-short career. A lovely piece also ran in the Richmond News that captured nicely the emotion felt by those who knew Lorne, detailed some of the great things this good man had done in his life and outlines the legacy he left behind.

This summer, as I was seeing my friend Lesley and her daughter off to their train from Montreal to Kingston and preparing to catch a plane back to Vancouver, I was informed by my magic iPhone Facebook newsfeed that my friend Cheryl Hutcherson had also lost her battle. Standing on the train platform in the hot Quebec summer sun, I was chilled by the thought of a world without Cheryl's smile and laughter, her love for musical theatre emanating through every part of her life, her willingness to help and her always cheerful attitude to the world. She got me hooked on playing Farmville years ago (kicked the habit last New Year's) and I introduced her to the Dutch Wooden Shoe Cafe. Sadly, I was unable to attend her celebration of life, one that she had left detailed instructions for, because I was working that day but my thoughts were with her friends and family and my toe tapped a little, knowing that it would be a ceremony full of music and cheer.

In January 2012, Jeff's mentor and sensei, Les Nielsen, succumbed to cancer as well. Les was someone that everyone knew, in passing or in depth. He was the nephew of a more high-profile Les(lie) Nielsen who passed away of cancer a little more than a year before. A short and tender in memoriam was written by long-time Vancouver personality, Red Robinson, on his blog and Jeff and I decided when we were planning our wedding that we would like to donate the money earmarked for the groomsmen's boutonnieres to a cancer organization in his name. In addition, we would be taking donations at the ceremony to the cause as well.  

Which brings me to recent happenings: Yesterday, I got in contact with the BC Cancer Foundation by email and the Canadian Cancer Society by phone to find out how we would go about making the donation. Turns out that they are two very separate organizations. Who knew? We're not exactly sure yet how to decide where to donate or whether we should split the donation between the two agencies but hopefully we figure that out by springtime. It's hard to think about those who can't be there to share our day with us but we want to at least make the effort to share our day with their memory.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Black and Gold

***Third time writing this post as Blogger seems to be intent on obliterating it every time I try to save as a draft. So, here goes...***

For the largest portion of my academic career, my school colours have been Blue and Gold. My high school, Evan Hardy Collegiate, in Saskatoon and my university (which continue to siphon large wads of tuition out of my account to this day) sport this duo of colours. When I first attained continuing teacher status in the school district, I took it as a good sign that I was once again at a school of blue and gold... then came the downsizing, and the lay-off year (two very different circumstances under the collective agreement) and when I found my feet again, I was firmly planted at a school where Black and Gold were the colours of pride. Seriously, they even found BLACK Christmas tree ornaments... Don't ask me where.

This week is (another) Spirit Week and the Student Council planned a noon hour pep rally for today and everyone was encouraged to dress in school colours. Since I don't coach or sponsor any teams or clubs here, my wardrobe lacks a single item of school branded merch. Therefore, I had to dig through my t-shirt dresser to find an appropriately co-ordinated shirt to wear with my black slacks. Happily, the only shirt that fit the bill is one that I was very proud to wear as it advertises a wonderful annual event in support of an even more incredible organization.


The Can't Stop the Serenity screenings are held annually around the world with proceeds going to the Equality Now charity whose mandate is to end violence and discrimination against women and girls. Because of my weekend work schedule, I have yet to actually attend one of the screenings but, being very fortunate in friends, Vancouver's own CSTS organizer, Gayle, was kind enough to deliver a shirt to me at the library back in 2008. At least my money went in the EN kitty that year. Have I mentioned that Serenity was the first movie Jeff and I ever watched together? I knew it was love...

In 2006, Joss Whedon spoke at an Equality Now event called 'On the Road to Equality: Honoring Men on the Front Lines' where he was given an award for his advocacy on behalf of the charity and where his mother, Lee Stearns, was honoured by his introducer Meryl Streep as the individual solely responsible for inspiring the founding of the organization through her "radical ideas about women’s strength and independence and passion and empathy".

Joss' speech is, as always, eloquent and moving and entertaining but it's his little zinger at the end -- his pared down, concentrated response to the one question he is asked more than any other question -- his final words after numerous earlier, lengthier draft responses which didn't seem to get the point across to interviewers -- his pointed reference to why Equality Now is such a necessary organization -- that has become an infamous, viral meme that spreads as fast as the Internet allows:

So, why do you write these strong female characters?

Because you’re still asking me that question

(By the way, the transcript for the speech is available at American Rhetoric. Great lesson plan material for English teachers and speech-writers!)
Tomorrow, December 6, 2012, marks the 23rd anniversary of the massacre at Montreal's École Polytechnique where fourteen women - Geneviève Bergeron, Hélène Colgan, Nathalie Croteau, Barbara Daigneault, Anne-Marie Edward, Maud Haviernick, Maryse Laganière, Maryse Leclair, Anne-Marie Lemay, Sonia Pelletier, Michèle Richard, Annie St-Arneault, Annie Turcotte, and Barbara Klucznik-Widajewicz - were shot and killed by a mentally unstable man for the crime of being women studying engineering (at a school he was rejected by). Montrealers, Canadians, university students, engineers and those who seek a better world for not only our daughters but all humanity, commemorate the day and remember the tragedy of those students and the hate that ended their lives.

*** This is where my original post ended. This morning, I found the following on my Facebook Newsfeed and felt it apropo to attach to this post ***


Jada Pinkett-Smith Speaks Against Human Trafficking, 2012

After slaying critics in defense of her daughter Willow, outspoken actress and activist Jada Pinkett-Smith took to Facebook today to drop some knowledge on how the degradation of women has resulted in problems for both sexes.

As we look at societies where the women are lost, struggling for education and otherwise disregarded, versus those who consider women the center of their communities, Jada‘s words ring all the more truer. Read what she has to say below:
How is man to recognize his full self, his full power through the eye’s of an incomplete woman? The woman who has been stripped of Goddess recognition and diminished to a big ass and full breast for physical comfort only.
The woman who has been silenced so she may forget her spiritual essence because her words stir too much thought outside of the pleasure space. The woman who has been diminished to covering all that rots inside of her with weaves and red bottom shoes.
I am sure the men, who restructured our societies from cultures that honored woman, had no idea of the outcome. They had no idea that eventually, even men would render themselves empty and longing for meaning, depth and connection.
There is a deep sadness when I witness a man that can’t recognize the emptiness he feels when he objectifies himself as a bank and truly believes he can buy love with things and status. It is painful to witness the betrayal when a woman takes him up on that offer.
He doesn’t recognize that the [creation] of a half woman has contributed to his repressed anger and frustration of feeling he is not enough. He then may love no woman or keep many half women as his prize.
He doesn’t recognize that it’s his submersion in the imbalanced warrior culture, where violence is the means of getting respect and power, as the reason he can break the face of the woman who bore him four children.
When woman is lost, so is man. The truth is, woman is the window to a man’s heart and a man’s heart is the gateway to his soul.
Power and control will NEVER out weigh love.
May we all find our way.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Sport or Game?

Cards on the table: I can't skate.

In fact, any activity that involves wearing blades or free-spinning wheels is just not my element. Actually, it occurs to me that the unifying factor is the word "skate". Ice skate, roller skate, skateboard... whenever I've had to take part, I've always been thankful for having a resilient and well-padded derriere. Floor hockey, road hockey, field hockey, even broom ball (which IS played on ice but in shoes) I'm okay with. Put me on skates and things get silly fast.

So, in an effort to reclaim my Canadian-ness, I took up curling a few years ago with a group of colleagues from the school. I wasn't terrible. I wasn't great. Our rink had good matches and bad ones. Mostly though, I had a lot fun. I don't know that I got a lot of exercise but I participated however the question arises: Does curling (which basically amounts to lawn bowling on ice) count as a "sport" or  a "game"? 

As played by woodland creatures, I think it's a game
Back of the shirt: I think the bunny is the commentator
Today's shirt was a gift from Kerri, sourced from Threadless (yes, again). 

Crazy-athletic friend, Lesley (note the diplomatically placed hyphen), distinguishes between the labels of sports and games. By her definition, activities like cycling, running, and swimming are "sport"s whereas bowling, darts, and (possibly) curling are "game"s. She kind of expects sport athletes to look the part too so there are a few baseball players that live in the grey zone, taking their genre with them to some extent. Basically, to her, if you have a big gut, you are playing a game, no matter how much you are paid to do so.

So where is the line between sport and game? And does it matter to the spectators? Are there activities that straddle the two?

Monday, December 3, 2012

Some Shirts Are Just Fun


A little whimsical. Today's shirt is in the collection because it makes me smile. No real reason other than that. 

Anyone want to lend me a story for this one?

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Another Stealth Music-T, Barenaked Edition

Fridays are tricky, it's turned out. Most school Pro-D Days are scheduled for Fridays so the blog tends to miss out on the Music T posts. Tomorrow, another Pro-D Day, is concert day for the Barenaked Ladies here in Vancouver, playing WITH the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra at the beautiful Orpheum Theatre. Jeff's not a BNL fan (?!? I know, right?) but when we found out his best friend's wife bought tickets for THEM as part of an office event, he agreed to come and hang out.

Like many things I probably couldn't imagine my pop culture world without today - Buffy, C.S.I., Amanda Palmer - BNL was more my brother's thing than mine. Between the two of us, he tends to be the earlier adopter in the family and his youthful BNL fandom knew no bounds. There was a summer in Saskatoon when I got tickets for an outdoor, multi-band music festival where BNL was playing and sent my boyfriend at the time with Arthur as he was about... oh, twelve years old ... at the time. I had to work that day but I believe that they had a pretty good time. Arthur asked me later if I remembered The Simpsons episode "Homerpalooza" where they go to a Lollapalooza-inspired music festival and Lisa comments,"It smells like Otto's jacket!". My pre-teen little bro smiled at me when I said I did and declared proudly,"I know what she meant now!" Now that I think about it, he might've actually known that particular concert scent before I did too.

It's the quirky nature of memory that I cannot pinpoint when it was that I sent Arthur to that concert. Even Arthur's not sure exactly. He says that it was the year they released the "Born on a Pirate Ship" album so that dates it around 1996. And it goes to show that life before the Internet is truly the modern Dark Ages in that I cannot find a record anywhere online that the Barenaked Ladies played any concert festival in Saskatoon that summer or the next.

So for the fun of it, here's a video made a little over ten years ago where the boys of BNL pay tribute to the wonderful booth known as "Speakers Corner" where they brought their music and faces to the public for the first time ten years before THAT.

Wow, I'm feeling old now.