Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Everyone, Do the Necronomicon!!

Happy Halloween!!

A couple of years ago, Vancouver hosted not one, but TWO productions of Evil Dead: The Musical, a singing, dancing and lurching live stage adaptation of the 1981 Sam Raimi cult film that starred the young and energetic Bruce Campbell. (As a side note, I'm kind of excited to see IMDB has a new film production listed for next year.) The stage show is a lot of fun, sporting catchy tunes like "Look Who's Evil Now" and "All the Men in My Life Keep Getting Killed by Candarian Demons" and, of course, the audience in the "Splash Zone" could expect to wear home their share of strawberry-flavoured "blood" splatter. 

I saw both productions and I bought shirts at both productions but I BELIEVE I bought this shirt at the touring company production of the show at the Vogue Theatre. 

I appreciate shirts that use more than the traditional canvas
The mythology behind the first Evil Dead movie was that the crew had a budget of $1000 and a week to shoot the show. They supposedly spent $600 on beer and pizza the first weekend they were on location and created the rest of the highly camp horror movie with whatever the cast and crew could innovate for the remainder of the money in the time left. Years later, Raimi and Campbell teamed up (with a more substantial budget and possibly less beer and pizza) for Evil Dead 2 wherein Campbell's character, Ash, from the first film inexplicably decides to take his new girlfriend to the same cabin where his friends had been brutally slaughtered the last time. As the definition of insanity could have predicted, the exact same plot deploys except that this time with better special effects and Ash ends up catapulted into the demon realm... cut to Army of Darkness and a Blue Light Special.

Halloween is Jeff's favourite "holiday". In years past, he and his friends would put together a charity fund-raising haunted house. Since losing access to an actual house to decorate, that activity has waned. Last year, he literally made small children flee from our door crying. You EARN your candy when you come to our door. I've always had mixed feelings about Halloween myself. As a younger child, we lived where neighbours were far enough away that they were best visited by car and then, when I was older and living in Saskatoon, there were only a few costumes that fit comfortably over a snowsuit or believably under a winter coat. The year in high school when our social circle went Halloween "caroling" for Food Bank items was probably my best Samhain celebration to date. 

Anyone out there have a Halloween tradition they want to share?   

So whether you do the Time Warp or the Necronomicon (<<skip to 2:40 in the video) or just enjoy waving your boom stick at passer-bys, have a safe and awesomely spooky All Hallow's Eve!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

It's a Bird. It's a Plane.

Today is Superhero Day for Spirit Week at my school. Believe it or not, this is the only actual supe shirt I have. It's old. It's a little tight in the arms. It's unfashionably short. I honestly don't remember where I bought it so there's no real story here.

And yet I didn't throw it out/donate it when I was sorting stuff this summer. I guess there's a part of me that really likes the shirt. There's a classic feel to wearing such a recognizable logo and there's a certain humour to the connotative value of it. Maybe I figure that any self-respecting geek girl needs a Superman shirt at the ready.

Mostly, though, I probably figured that there would be days where I would need to feel a little Superman-like.

And, for my two cents, Dean Cain is still my favourite Supe portrayer.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Upstaging the Hero

Pity the brave heroes. Yes, they may overcome and triumph over villains and personal demons. Yes, their names may ring golden throughout history. Yes, they may fulfill prophecy, outwit Fate, undo curses, complete quests, ascend thrones, and get the happily ever after. But at what cost? The Hero's Quest is an archetypal path. Details vary but the elements remain the same whether you're discussing Superman, Katniss or Harry Potter. No matter the heights they scale or the foes they vanquish, heroes are trapped by the very role they play.

And the modern day hero is flawed. Whether they are flaws that need besting like Indiana Jones' fear of snakes or flaws that can be turned into strengths like the ADHD and dyslexia inherent in all the demigods in Rick Riordan's Olympus series, they are flaws that are laid out in a public vetting as thorough as any an American vice-president may undergo.  It's downright embarrassing if you consider that, as a hero, every aspect of your life is considered general knowledge. Forget paparazzi, teenage fanboys and girls are suddenly experts in every like, dislike or neuroses you ever experienced. And beyond the hysteria, there are the EXPECTATIONS. Sure, you killed that baddie and saved the world from that meteor but what have you done lately? Being a hero is downright exhausting.

Today's shirt courtesy of ThinkGeek

And where does this leave the happy sidekicks? Free to excel in any field they like without qualms of having a hero standard to live up to. Liberated from public scrutiny and permitted to be as quirky and edgy as they like. They can be endearing or sarcastic or endearingly sarcastic even. They can provide solutions without feigning angst or agony. Yeah, okay, they occasionally end up catching a bullet or a plague for dramatic effect (Whedon has been quoted as saying,"If you want an emotional response from the audience, hurt Willow.") but at least they are not forced to dance the morality/ethical cha-cha for the audience. They can have the occasional heroic moment, that spark of awesome to qualify them for important Girl/Boy Friday status, but there are no expectations placed upon their shoulders. Which is why they are, so often, able to shine brighter in our minds than the "hero".

On TV, these are our Willows, our Monroes, our Kenzies. In the movies, these are our Short Rounds, our droids, our Mr. Universes. In literature, these are our Nevilles, our Mr. Bingleys, our Diana Barrys. These are the individuals we'd like to hang out with, go see a movie with, take out for a smoothie, the heroes being too busy with their junkets and drama. 

I've always been slightly outraged by the disregard for Neville's backstory shown by the films. In the literature, it was pure chance that put Harry on the hero's path. If Voldemort and Bellatrix had traded chores, it would've been Neville's mother's love that wounded Voldemort and Neville would've been all scarred and tragic. And in that line of reasoning, based on everything we know...

Smarter, kinder, surviving a lifetime of visits to St. Mungo's and with a grandma that made him toe the line, Neville was made of such stuff as heroes are made of. Sure, he might not be as talented with a broom but in the greater scheme of things, Herbology expertise trumps Quidditch skillz wands down. And the dude knows how to swing a sword.

Years ago, I heard an anecdote about the casting of the 1985 TV film adaptation of "Anne of Green Gables" wherein actress Schuyler Grant had been cast in the title role only to have a visually ideal Megan Follows swoop in in the eleventh hour to steal the role. As Schuyler went on to portray Anne's bestie, Diana, this anecdote lent a new layer to a scene in the sequel movie (1987) where Anne discovers that Diana has always loved Gilbert but had never made it known because he was "always meant to be" with Anne. After hearing about how the casting fell out, I always thought that there was a note in Schuyler's voice and a glint in her eye that had nothing to do with a fictional infatuation. Some do not embrace the loss of hero status as easily as others.

The most clever recent sidekick/hero play on roles was in the generally panned film Sucker Punch, which I'm gonna have to admit I liked. Possibly specifically for the fact that Zack Snyder pulled a switcheroo at the end, the moment when Babydoll realizes that she is not, in fact, the hero of the story and that she was really just the means to someone else's happy ending.

So, it's been a while since I asked for reader participation. Anyone out there have an example of the series/film/book where the side characters are more interesting than the protagonist? Who preferred Jack over Will in "Will and Grace"? Honeycutt over Hawkeye on "M*A*S*H"? Buddy over Charles in "Charles in Charge"? Why are sitcoms the easiest to draw examples from? Ok, a book reference: who else looks forward to Bob the Skull scenes in the Dresden Files and could do with fewer Harry-preparing-another-spell scenes?

Friday, October 26, 2012

Music T Friday: Ya Gotta Have ...

to be...

Sisters, Ann and Nancy Wilson have been making incredible, indelible music for a long time as the band "Heart" and when I saw them in 2010 at the Orpheum in Vancouver (a city they credit with fostering much of their success) it was clear that their fans had never considered their hiatus anything but a temporary absence. Their music and stage presence continue to draw crowds eager for new and classic songs featuring Ann's signature vocals and Nancy's impressive guitar skillz. 2010's Red Velvet Car was a return to the soul of Heart (o_O ... hrm... ) - music that reaches out to their listeners and sticks with them long after the song has ended. They are an act that eschews drama and scandal, choosing to focus their public lives on creating quality music that evolves and grows the way true art always does. They are women who staked claim on the boys' own territory of rock 'n' roll of the '70s and carved out a throne all their own. When I talk Heart with friends and fellow music fans, it's always about the music, the craft, the amazing talent the Wilson sisters exhibit and how wonderful it is to know that there are musicians who can live their lives with purpose, branching out all the time with daring, knowing that their roots are firmly anchored in their art, their relationship, and their public. It's a positive story in an industry filled with cautionary tales.

So, from my archived videos from that concert in 2010, one of my favourite songs sung by the phenomenal Ann Wilson. Happy Friday, everyone!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

In a Metal Mood, Shirt-wise

I like to think I have an appreciation for most types of music out there. Might have come from growing up in the 80s and 90s when a listener had to gear their ear to a wide range of questionable styles. Might have come from having parents who played nothing but compilation tapes of 50s and 60s easy listening tunes in the car. Might have come from spending my teenage years surrounded by a world accepting (nay, celebrating) the mystique of New Country (older now but New then). Might have come from being more visually and literarily strong versus my brother's more significant aural skills. I've always maintained that I like to hear the lyrics.

I figure that music, like literature, is a cornerstone of culture and thereby, forms a basis for cultural references. Much as satirical writing requires the reader to recognize what style of writing is being parodied, musical parodies or cross-genre covers only work if one knows the source material. Jonathon Coulton's acoustic folk cover of "Baby Got Back" only elicits laughs when the listener starts to recognize Sir Mix-A-Lot's lyrics. The Arrogant Worms' "Carrot Juice is Murder" is funny in its own right but funnier when one is familiar with the protest songs of the '60s.

Also, this is a real thing:

I own the album. "Enter Sandman" is especially awesome IMHO but that's mostly because Metallica is pretty much my only real metal reference. I could probably recognize GNR (?) songs and, thanks to an obsession with RollerGames (written about back on Sept 7 on this blog), Warrant tunes but I'm still trying to figure out the differentiating elements between hair bands and metal bands. Not all hair bands are metal, I don't think. But are all metal bands hair?

My better half is a self-professed metal head and because of this, a few years back, I attended my first metal concert, Fear Factory at the Commodore Ballroom. Feeling like a bit of a poser, I couldn't really justify buying a concert tee from any random metal band to wear so I ordered this one:

... because Science is also awesome. And science + music = joy. Just ask the beautiful and talented Billy the Kid (<-- ho-lee ca-rap, she's got an actual Wiki page!) whose Twitter-feed and FB updates are a heart-warming and though-provoking blend of personal info, musical progress and scientific trivia.

I've posted her music video for These City Lights all over my digital footprint ever since it came out in 2009 so I'll post a different one here today:

Us Broken Hearts

Billy the Kid | Myspace Music Videos

And FYI, I don't actually own a Billy shirt to post about on Music T Fridays but I wear my Billy the Kid zip-up hoodie everywhere.
(Happy six months, Billy! Sending you lots of love and magical thinking!)

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Hasa Diga Eebowai

So, I'm not 100% yet and I'm finding myself super annoying in the role of "person who can't just shake off the cold" so I decided to head in to work and annoy other people today.

I took a sick day yesterday and tried to give myself time to repair but by about one in the afternoon, I was pretty stir-crazy and thought going grocery shopping would help since we were out of a lot of meal builders. (Turns out Under-the-Weather-Me thinks meals are made of ice cream.)

When I was waiting to cross the street, I heard someone say,"Hello, how are you today?" but didn't think anything of it. There were a lot of people waiting to cross and no one had called me by name. The question was repeated, a little louder this time, and I looked up to realize I was being addressed by a tall, pale, red-headed Mormon Elder. Elder Funk, to be precise. His buddy (because they always travel in twos) looked a bit like a South Pacific Islander Harry Potter/Buddy Holly cross. Elder Funk did most of the talking. I got the feeling that they'd just started their mission here in Vancouver and I did my best to be pleasant but since most of what I know about the Church of Latter Day Saints is from the musical and Bill Maher's diatribes about magic underwear, it gave us very little common ground to stand on.
When Elder Funk suggested we sit down to discuss stuff, I explained that the last time I'd done that it had been a Scientology thing and had been weird in that I ended up sort of converting my recruiter. They thanked me for my time, handed me a book and asked me to read and pray over it.

Today's shirt was an obvious choice after that.

Two years ago, I made a point to travel out to New York City, a major stop on my bucket travel list (New Orleans and Quebec City remain on the North American list still) during Spring Break. It was an incredible experience, despite being on my own, and I definitely intend to visit again.

Broadway was as impressive as I expected and yet, because of budgetary restrictions (NYC was the first trip EVER where I managed to spend within my means) and limited time, I had to pick my shows carefully. I made friends with a couple of guys, Nick and Sasha, from Toronto while in line for The Daily Show with Jon Stewart (we saw the episode with Canadian Norm MacDonald, btw) and, after the filming, they invited me along to a show called Fuerza Bruta which was a stunning, interactive and immersive show of performance art. I took photos (which we were encouraged to do) but they really don't do the show justice. The show's run, originally scheduled to close in New York on November 11th, has been extended through to January 6th at the Daryl Roth Theatre.

Sasha had a wedding to attend that weekend but since Nick was at loose ends and I had an extra ticket for the NYC TV & Movie Sites Bus Tour, we met up and got the comprehensive tour of Manhattan filming locations. 
That's me in front of the COSBY House!
 Following the tour, we headed to Broadway and queued up for THREE HOURS to see if we could get tickets for the sold-out-until-July run of The Book of Mormon, a product of the triptych of genius that is Trey Parker, Matt Stone (the dynamic duo behind South Park) and Robert Lopez (co-wrote and co-composed Avenue Q)

The show is phenomenal. And a phenomenon. And catchy, to boot... although not really something you want to break into song with on public transit or within earshot of small children or fundamentalist Christians... or a lot of Mormons.

Nick and I waited at the stage door after the show. It was incredibly fitting, after all, since we had met in line for The Daily Show (where interaction with the talent was tightly controlled) that we get autographs and pictures from sometimes Daily Show correspondent, Josh Gad, who played Elder Cunningham in the original Broadway cast.

Josh Gad and me
The Super Mormon in the show, Elder Price, was originally played by Andrew Rannells who now stars in the new comedy on Fox, The New Normal. (And this is another instance of how much I love writing this blog: Last night's episode of The New Normal was SO good. Especially the confessional scenes. Who WOULDN'T want to confess to a priest who plays Angry Birds and describes Jesus as "the Chuck Norris of his day"?)

Andrew Rannells and me
So, to tie this all back to the title of the post (and, man, aren't the labels on this one going to be interesting?), the musical has this number that parodies "Hakuna Matata" from The Lion King when the Elders Price and Cunningham arrive for their mission in the Ugandan village (which is "NOTHING like The Lion King!"). The phrase that the villagers chant to make the tragedies of their life (AIDS, famine, mutilation, war, etc) feel like less of a burden is "Hasa Diga Eebowai". My recent challenges have very much been #FirstWorldProblems but there are no restrictions on the application of the phrase. I've embedded a video but I'll warn my more sensitive readers that it may not be to their liking. (Tristy, send the boys out of the room)

Damned catchy, though.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Still Sick

Dragged myself to a course this morning (not at the school therefore no tshirt, wore a sweater) but have booked off sick until Wednesday. Until then, enjoy the inkblot my Sharpie marker left on me during the course and know that I loves all my readers!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Between the Lines

I'm backdating again because I've been sick but DID go to work on Thursday and this is the shirt I wore. I just couldn't manage to write and post anything then. This is another one from Unshelved and it's one that caused some controversy with a library patron when I wore it to work. Her issue with it basically boiled down to an initial "I don't get it" reaction and when I tried to explain my interpretation of it, she decided it was a bad idea and, possibly, that I was a bad person for wearing the shirt. I shrugged and continued on with my day but the more I thought about it, the more ambiguous the statement seemed.

My reading of it is that reading is something we can do for ourselves and without reprisal. Getting to choose our reading material should be a free and obvious right in a civilised world. It's not the only interpretation though. So, feel free to re-interpret here and maybe Bill Barnes or Gene Ambaum can chime in with where they were going with it when they wrote the strip the shirt is based on.

I hope to be more interesting next week when this gorram, curst cold lets go of me. Until then, it's Buckley's and hot lemon & honey tinctures until I want to puke, I guess. Also, I'll be reading. Check my shelves on for details. Cheers!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Muppet Socialism

Let's talk Fraggles. Thank you, Jim Henson.

From the Wiki entry: As described by Henson, "[The series is] a high-energy, raucous musical romp. It's a lot of silliness. It's wonderful." While the program was accessible to audiences of all ages, it used the fantasy creatures as an allegory to deal with serious issues such as prejudice, spirituality, personal identity, environment, and social conflict.
The hippy flower children of the Muppet world, they had the most intricately laid out television puppet culture ever. They broached serious topics with as much candor and intelligence as All the in the Family ever did. They entertained. They educated. The mere thought of them make me smile. I've often wished that we humans could share dreams the way sleeping Fraggles could.

And, for the record, I always felt a little bad for Sprocket.

Dance your cares away,
Worry's for another day.
Let the music play,
Down at Fraggle Rock.

Work you cares away,
Dancing's for another day.
Let the Fraggles play,
We're Gobo, Mokey, Wembley, Boober, Red.

Dance your cares away,
Worry's for another day.
Let the music play,
Down at Fraggle Rock.
Down at Fraggle Rock.
Down at Fraggle Rock.

I don't own a Fraggle shirt.
These are Doozers
Doozers are the anti-Fraggles. Doozers live to work. They spend all their waking hours building structures out of radishes that Fraggles eat. EAT. In fact, when the Fraggles stop eating Doozer buildings, Doozer look to move elsewhere because they run out of space to build and obviously they aren't needed anymore if they aren't serving the Fraggle need. Doozers tell stories about Doozers who don't WANT to work and build all the time and end up turning into ... Fraggles. The antithesis and yet the symbiotic partner of everything Fraggle.

The Doozers are the public servants of the Fraggle world. Fraggle Rock wouldn't cease to exist without them but it would be a lot more difficult to find food. They truly to live to serve. And, of course, there are Doozers who rebel and try to buck the trend. Some even try being Fraggles. Eventually, they find their niche though and the status quo is restored. I have worked in public institutions since I was 15 years old. And the few jobs I have had that weren't government jobs have been in the service industry. I have to admit there are days when I feel more like a rebel Doozer when I want to be a Fraggle but I wouldn't do the work I do if I didn't enjoy it. 

I believe there has to be meaning in one's work if it is truly a "career" versus a "job". I remember learning about "vocations" in school (of course, they were talking about religious callings at the time) but it wasn't until someone tried to comfort me on a bad day that "it's just a job" and I really bristled at the phrase and said,"No, it's really not" that I knew I was in the right place. Doozers aren't forced to do the work they do. They do it because it fulfills their purpose and, without purpose, what's the point? Although Fraggles had a lot of fun, the episodes were often about their purpose-of-the-moment. And that's fair : it doesn't have to be a life-long purpose, but you gotta have something.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Life Long Learner

Not a very exciting shirt but I have several versions of this one as I sat on the Education Students Association as AMS Rep the year that I earned my Bachelor of Education degree. As of this year, I have belonged to the Education Faculty twice as long as I was an Arts Undergrad Student member. Sheesh. 

There's a version of this shirt in my wardrobe that I don't wear to school. Across the back is emblazoned "I GOT MY DEGREE IN BEd". Once, possibly during my practicum, I did wear it, forgetting what was written on the back and a student asked me, point-blank,"Is that supposed to be dirty?" Haven't worn it since. In fact, I believe the ESA was prohibited from using that slogan again. The last one I saw sported around the Neville Scarfe building at UBC read "DON'T MAKE ME USE MY TEACHER VOICE" instead.

Like I said, I'm still enrolled in the Education Faculty at UBC, eight years into my teaching career. Last May, I finished my diploma in Teacher-Librarianship and had a short-lived 24 hours of "I am officially FREE of UBC" celebrations only to be informed that the Faculty had reinstated the MIA Diploma in Special Education that would have been eminently more practical for my current job. Having taken 21 credits in courses in Special Ed while completing the 30 credits for the T-L diploma, I called the admissions office to inquire what kind of frequent flyer points I could get in light of the Spec. Ed Diploma's return. "Oh, that's easy," the nice lady on the phone said,"You just need to come back and take another 9 credits." NOT the answer I was looking for. > <

So I officially hold triple alumni AND current student status. And because I had taken nearly all the secondary school applicable Special Ed courses UBC had to offer, I signed up for something new - Special Ed training for students with giftedness with an intro course this term and a more practical follow-up course on program design next term. Ironically, as much as I detest online courses, this has been the best organized course I've taken in a long time. I've found the readings (all of which are available for free online) interesting and informative and the assignments less than onerous. Especially nice is the extremely reasonable word limits the instructor(s) have set out. 

This week's reading and assignment was centred on an article by Ronald A. Beghetto about his theory of "Ideational Code-Switching" (ICS), a metaphor for classroom appropriate creative expression based on the linguistic theory of code-switching that multilingual people use when faced with a challenging conversational partner. In Beghetto's ICS theory, students/learners source their creativity within personally relevant ideas/skills but need to be able to express their idea or utilize their skill in a way that benefits the curriculum-based, classroom-framed task at hand. A child with an amazing gift for dance isn't necessarily going to be a sought-after group contributor if all he does is pirouette around the room constantly. However, if he has been taught some basics of movement and choreography, he may be the go-to person to organize the group for a cheer routine or direct a scene within a play. He may also be able to express his creative expertise through media - video or still art/poses. It's the MacGyver theory of useful knowledge/talents, the Swiss Army knife of exceptionalities - great if you use the right gadget in the right context, seriously disruptive when you don't.

Part of what drew me to education in the first place (well after my B.A. completion, btw) was the fact that no two classes are ever the same whether you are the teacher or the student. Even when I was teaching academic curricula and had multiples of the same course, every discussion that emerged was a whole new frontier of learning. And something I try to instill in my students is that learning happens in spite of disinterest or frustration. We're constantly learning to cope with new things and setting out new goals for ourselves whether it's conscious or not.

Working on the Beghetto assignment made me realize that this blog is an example of me taking what he calls "mini-c" personal elements (ie. my t-shirt collection) and trying to turn them into "little-c" general-applicable products (ie. blog posts). He defines "big-c" Creativity as the life contributions of Coltrane, Pollack, or Kubrick - talent and inspiration that significantly changes whole genres. Ultimately, this blog is designed to solve my problem of not writing regularly by using stuff I already have and establishing a routine I can keep. So far, so good.

So what have I learned recently (say, the last 24 hrs)?
  1. Don't design an envelope without a method to securely seal it
  2. Legion Halls in Vancouver are okay with you ordering food to be delivered as long as you clean up after yourself. Especially on a Monday night. Especially if your group is buying a lot of beer from the bar.
  3. Don't ask for blog post comments on a specific topic if you've written something more controversial in the post itself, even if it was only a moment of frustrated venting.
  4. Pizza is (still) the best food to eat as a cold left-over.
  5. One of my friends is cousins to a guy who spends summers in a shared rented cabin with John Hodgman (Hi, I'm a PC) and Jonathan Coulton. They're school buddies.
And, going back to the weekend, I learned that this existed:

So.... what have YOU learned lately?

Monday, October 15, 2012

There are Things Even HBO Can't Do

In the spring of 2011, I waited with trepidation for the premiere of Game of Thrones, having signed up for HBO Canada specifically so I could watch the series as it aired. Those who have read the George R.R. Martin books know that Games of Thrones is only the title of the first one, that the series itself is actually called "A Song of Ice and Fire", and that Talisa is a cheap and stupid replacement for Jeyne Westerling who has ruined Robb Stark's character irreparably (whew, sorry, that just needed stating). Semantics (and vitriol aside), the anticipation for the show built steadily from its initial announcement in 2007 to its premiere and the question (among fans, not GRRM) was whether HBO would be up to the task. 

Season One was a solid adaptation of the (very filmable) first novel. Cinemaspy gave me the chance to review the first four episodes and I did so with great relief and appreciation. The arcs were so perfectly spaced in the literature that I was able to call the final shot for every one of the ten episodes. Yes, even episode nine and especially the premiere and the finale. There were a few forgivable (in my mind anyways) changes from the source material in Season One because, as stated in the title today, there are things even HBO can't do. Like mate a thirteen year old to a horse lord. Aging Dany to seventeen made a lot of sense in light of sparing most viewers' sensibilities. Turning Drogo initially into a stereotyped barbarian who drunkenly rapes her, on the other hand, was done for more sensationalist reasons or maybe to reflect Dany's outsider status among the tribe she had been sold to (maybe). Apparently, HBO is also unable to let a girl have a positive first sexual experience. Unless it's with her brother. Season Two (based on the second novel in the series, A Clash of Kings) was a harder narrative to adapt and diverged from the source material more (see above Talisa rant and Dany's storyline is almost unrecognizable) but the show maintains its watchability for lovers of the literature (unlike True Blood). 

Today's shirt was yet another gift from Mitch and J, this time a birthday/engagement prezzie. (They got Jeff a "Winter is Coming" House Stark shirt as balance. :) Chapters bookstore had a nice little display of Game of Thrones merchandising set up - mugs, bookmarks, t-shirts, notebooks - mostly focussed on House Stark and House Targaryen. Understandable as wolves and dragons are just that much sexier than deer or squiddy-looking things. Even lions don't get the same props as having a dragon on your house sigil.

I am consciously trying NOT to spoil anything for my readers who only watch the series (*waves*) and I'll ask commenters today to avoid giving away anything that happens in Storm, Feast, or Dance. What I'd like people who have read and watched the series to think about is the parallelism of Sansa and Dany. 

This only occurred to me this morning as I decided on my shirt. These characters began at the same age in the books - thirteen - and, in the television series, were aged up approximately the same number of years. So far in the television series, they have taken inverse paths. Sansa began with a large loving and supportive family and a pet direwolf and had it all stripped away from her, piece by piece. Dany began with only an abusive and crazy brother to call kin and (to gloss the series of events) gained a husband, had a child, won a tribal family and birthed three dragons. Both young women have become central to the machinations of the politics around them. Furthermore, there is the fact that in both the books and the television series, Sansa is designed to be disliked at the beginning - superficial, privileged, soft, a traitor to her family - while Dany is presented as the heir to the Dragon legacy - powerful, magical, resilient and responsible. Their storylines in the books and the show have never intersected but they are the only two characters of truly comparable age and station.  

At the end of Season 2, Sansa is still a virgin, still a maiden by the standards of Westeros, still living with fear and uncertainty on a daily basis while Dany has been made wife, widow, mother and matriarch and taken control of a city. There is a deep intelligence in painting these two in such contrasting light which makes me wonder at why they are not juxtaposed more obviously. Martin has been a subtle genius at crafting his female characters. In spite of his reputation for killing off his best-loved characters without sentiment (not naming them so I'm not spoiling it), his women survive. So far.

So, again, without giving away plot points beyond the end of Season 2 (and I understand that this hobbles the discussion a bit), can we discuss the women of Westeros, Essos, the Free Cities, etc? Beyond Sansa and Dany, can we compare Catelyn and Cersei as mothers? Brienne versus Yara as warriors? Margaery versus Shae for political savvy? Arya doesn't really have a comparable foil (which I'm starting to think is on purpose) but her subterfuge as a boy echoes Brienne's wish to be a son to her father. HBO has done some wonderful things with the female portrayals of the literary characters but also some great disservices in the name of sensationalism. It is, however, pretty great to see the women getting just as much screen-time as the men. It's pretty doubtful that they'll be wearing a lot more clothing (ie. less nakedness) as the seasons progress, even if Winter IS Coming...

Friday, October 12, 2012

Music T: I Wore This, Go Read Steven

(I'm cheating a little on this post and back dating it but this *is* the shirt I wore yesterday)

I knew I'd get around to wearing this one sooner rather than later. It's one of my favourite shirts from one of the best concerts I've ever seen. And I have nothing to really write about beyond that. I've tried several times now to write a coherent post about Springsteen, or about his career, or about last year's passing of "The Big Man" Clarence Clemons but I find myself typing faint echoes of things I read on Steven Rubio's blog. So I give up on this one. Use my link. It connects directly to a "Springsteen" search within Steven's Online Life. It's phenomenal, really.

Oh, and The Boss is back in Vancouver on November 26 this year. And, even though Steven does it better but because it's fun, "X marks the spot" for my tickets.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

A Town By Any Other Name...

Fans of the Arrogant Worms know that Newfoundland has some of the most entertaining town names in the English-speaking world (the Welsh and German might contest a linguistically-generalized claim)

In my Grade 12 year, I won the Northern Saskatchewan Junior Achievement CanJAC award which sent me to Hamilton, Ontari-ari-o to represent Saskatoon & area at a national convention of young entrepreneurs and business people. I remember I shared a McMaster dorm room with a very pretty redheaded girl and a dorm floor with one of the speech finalists who was having a serious case of the nerves, pacing the halls and common room, muttering lines of her speech and gesticulating at a fast forward speed as she rehearsed for the final showdown.

I remember the night of the speech comp because I wore a similar outfit to the Asian girl who ended up winning the competition and spent a lot of the evening graciously accepting congrats and then explaining that it wasn't me they meant to congratulate.

Of all the great memories from that trip, meeting Brian Kidney from Mount Pearl, NL, was the most long-lasting as we maintain our friendship to this day. He had never heard of the Worms and thereby had no idea the song existed so as soon as I got home, I dubbed him a mix tape (!) of all the best Arrogant Worms' songs.

Now, today's shirt obviously came from Newfoundland. Brian and his wife Lori have sent me Newfie-loving shirts as birthday and/or Christmas gifties but (and I could be wrong) I think this one I bought for myself when I was visiting Mount Pearl for their wedding. (Crazy attack trees injuring the groom aside, it was a wonderful wedding). There's a obvious omission to maintain the shirt's "G" rating but it gets the point across. To put a finer point on said point, Brian and Lori and their burgeoning family are about to make the move to Paradise. Seriously awesome.

While on the East Coast topic, this past summer, Jeff's parents let him know that they'd be "gone camping" for a week or two. They often head out to the Rockies or down to Oregon for camping trips all through the summer months so this wasn't unusual. The email we got from NOVA SCOTIA the next week was. They'd decided to take their camping equipment and their VW Golf across the continent. It wasn't until after they'd left NL that we even knew they'd planned on ferrying over to The Rock. I love my in-laws-to-be. And they loved Blow Me Down Provincial Park, one of the few campsites they didn't get rained out of.

I've always felt very lucky to live in a country as large and diverse as Canada (which, btw, gets its name from the First Nations word for "village" or "settlement") and the idea of making my home anywhere else in the world is unfathomable but that doesn't mean I don't have a sense of humour about how a place name can sound to a newcomer. My father's favourite joke about Chilliwack (the town, not the band) was that, to find it, you needed to cross Hell's Gate and travel beyond Hope. And one of my favourite activities to give Social Studies classes is the BC Places Quiz because whether you're from a money river or the left side of a cantaloupe, you should know better than to roll a furry joint and take a cool hit without really knowing the world around you.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

An Dontcha Fergit It...

Hint: Name the letters out loud left to right
It's true. See?

I'm reaching a bit today to make a connection between the t-shirt of the day and anything all that relevant to the world. I've had a lot of trouble sleeping the last few weeks so it does feel like my brain has been reduced to a series of seemingly meaningless letters and I don't think I'm the only one so there's that. 

The shirt is a souvenir from the musical Avenue Q which itself was inspired by Sesame Street (brought to you by the letter "Q") so that's kind of timely considering the "Big Bird-gate" going on in the US and the avalanche of memes that have popped up showing Sesame Street ready to rumble. 

Avenue Q is known for its humour and cleverness (and puppet sex!) and its most famous songs are pretty controversial (like "The Internet Is For Porn" and "Everyone's a Little Bit Racist") but there's an amazing song at the end of the first act that easily wins a spot in my Top Ten of All Time Favourite Musical Numbers. "There's a Fine Fine Line" was almost my anthem at one point and it remains a reminder to me that, even though Kate Monster does (SPOILER ALERT >>>>) backtrack to reunite with Princeton, there IS a line that, once crossed, changes everything.

There's a fine, fine line between a lover and a friend;
There's a fine, fine line between reality and pretend;
And you never know 'til you reach the top if it was worth the uphill climb.

There's a fine, fine line between love
And a waste of time.

There's a fine, fine line between a fairy tale and a lie;
And there's a fine, fine line between "You're wonderful" and "Goodbye."
I guess if someone doesn't love you back it isn't such a crime,
But there's a fine, fine line between love
And a waste of your time.

And I don't have the time to waste on you anymore.
I don't think that you even know what you're looking for.
For my own sanity, I've got to close the door
And walk away...

There's a fine, fine line between together and not
And there's a fine, fine line between what you wanted and what you got.
You gotta go after the things you want while you're still in your prime...

There's a fine, fine line between love

And a waste of time. 

- Robert Lopez & Jeff Marx

This is the cast recording of Stephanie D'Abruzzo singing "There's a Fine Fine Line" 
(she was also my favourite guest star EVER on Scrubs - "My Musical" - seriously, look it up)

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Geo-Caching/Checking In... Toe-May-Toe/Toe-Mah-Toe

Years ago I met a girl in England who, like me, had come from Canada to live abroad to soothe the dreaded wanderlust bug. She told me about geocaching, an activity she was excited to continue pursuing now that she was on a different continent. She described this activity as a global scavenger hunt/swap meet, where participants used GPS navigation to find "caches", containers containing a logbook and trinkets left by other geocachers. A geocacher would, upon finding the cache, log their own info in the logbook and could then leave behind their own trinket in exchange for someone else's.

My acquaintance explained to me that this activity had grown out of "letterboxing" (another pastime I had never heard of) which involved postcards and rubber stamps. As fascinating as it all sounded (who doesn't love the idea of a global treasure hunt?) it wasn't something I was going to invest a lot of time or energy in. It was, however, I thought, very nice that, besides the cost of travel, it was an inexpensive hobby and it really made a traveller take a close look at their surroundings.

I added the Gowalla app because it came from the creators of my first Facebook game addiction, Packrat. Essentially, it was a digital geocaching game where I could check-in with my iPhone and win "items" that I could collect or drop at locations. I still believe the platform was more fun than Foursquare but it never caught on like Foursquare did. 

According to Wiki, Gowalla closed down earlier this year. I got my t-shirt while in San Diego for Comic-Con 2010. Gowalla represented at the Tweet House party on board the USS Midway where I spent the evening rubbing elbows with a neat cross-section of geek-tastic celebrities. I was all about the swag that week and a free t-shirt from a social media platform wherein I held over 200 badges was a sweet score.

The issue with digital geocaching versus the old-school hobby was that it's a little narcissistic to believe that every check-in is worthy of noting when it's so easy. Foursquare is more about other people knowing where you ARE than where you've been. And there is no challenge to checking in to your local Starbucks 80 times compared to actually looking for a cache that someone else has taken the time to create and GPS map. Ultimately, Foursquare and Yelp! and other check-in platforms are designed to be marketing tools for businesses to use to get their name and reputation out there. It's a fun way to find a place to eat or to see what other people find "fun" in the area. Not much of a treasure hunt though. 

I actually haven't played Packrat in a long time now and it wasn't until I opened my Gowalla app this morning that I realized that checking in with it is no longer an option. What the app is good for now, though, is seeing what were popular check-in locations in the city. The developers left a lot of the information up as "city guides" and the cute artistry that drew me to the platform initially is still there. It's a little startling to realize that I've outlived a social media platform. Woah.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Music T: Thank Cohen It's Friday

Leonard Cohen has a style to his music and writing unlike any in the world. And I don't think that it's hyperbolic to say so. No one else's music, in my experience, sounds or feels like Cohen's. (Try to convince me otherwise. Seriously. Go ahead.) Maybe what it is is that no one really tries to sounds like him because it's not possible to do so without being obvious that you ARE trying. In live concert, Cohen imbues the largest arena with the intimacy of a living room or, more evocatively, a bedroom. Close your eyes and he's singing to you, playing for you, speaking just for you. The quality and talent of musicians he gathers to his inner circle is nothing short of stunning. And with a body of work spanning four decades - nearly five now - he does not skimp on the portions. His shows in Vancouver the last few years have started promptly at 7pm. No opener, just straight into 3 hours plus of song and poetry. I love getting floor seats to his shows because you actually get to sit in your seat. His most ardent fans sit and focus on the music and artistry on display.

Arguably, his best known song, "Hallelujah" has been covered (according to Wiki) by over 200 artists since its release in 1984. Its inclusion in the Vancouver Olympics opening ceremonies was touching but rather out of sync with the spirit of the ceremony if one were to review the lyrics:

Now I've heard there was a secret chord
That David played, and it pleased the Lord
But you don't really care for music, do you?
It goes like this
The fourth, the fifth
The minor fall, the major lift
The baffled king composing hallelujah



Your faith was strong but you needed proof

You saw her bathing on the roof
Her beauty and the moonlight overthrew you
She tied you
To a kitchen chair
She broke your throne, and she cut your hair
And from your lips she drew the hallelujah

Hallelujah, hallelujah

Hallelujah, hallelujah
You say I took the name in vain
I don't even know the name
But if I did, well really, what's it to you?
There's a blaze of light
In every word
It doesn't matter which you heard
The holy or the broken hallelujah

Hallelujah, hallelujah

Hallelujah, hallelujah

I did my best, it wasn't much

I couldn't feel, so I tried to touch
I've told the truth, I didn't come to fool you
And even though
It all went wrong
I'll stand before the lord of song
With nothing on my tongue but hallelujah

Hallelujah, hallelujah

Hallelujah, hallelujah
Hallelujah, hallelujah
Hallelujah, hallelujah
Hallelujah, hallelujah
Hallelujah, hallelujah
Hallelujah, hallelujah
Hallelujah, hallelujah

Although I've never met the man in person, a friend's mother ran into him before a concert in her hotel lobby in Edmonton a couple of years ago. She took the opportunity to let him know that she was a fan and was on her way to the concert. He took the time to ask her name and what she did for a living. When she told him she was a nurse, he was smooth as silk in telling her that he really needed a nurse to travel with the band "and look after this old body of mine..." *sigh*

I can't really put my finger on a favourite Cohen song but I have said, and will most probably say again, that I'm "in a _______ mood". The blank may be filled with:



but there will always be a Cohen song that fills it perfectly.