Friday, February 29, 2008

Where the Wilds Things Are

I don't believe in guilty pleasures. I gave up worrying about that kind of thing when I was 8 years old, prancing around in powder blue, elastic-waist-banded dress pants, obsessing over Judith Light and flipping through my Mom's copy of Women's World Weekly. What can I say? I like what I like.

To that, I give you Lipstick Jungle. Brooke Shields, in all her first-rate-transexual glory, storms back to television as Wendy Healy, a high-powered film studio exec. I don't care how you feel about pharmaceuticals or hating your babies, this lady has gams! Her legs are worth the price of admission, or the cost of your soul, for tuning in. In Episode 4 she dashes around in a silver-sequined mini-dress, young-Hollywood be damned! Never has Lindsay Lohan rocked a quadricep like Brooke Shields.

Based on the book by Candace Bushnell (Sex and the City), Darren Star brings us Carrie-Bradshaw-lite. A ready-for-network version of his racy and groundbreaking series. But times have changed since Sex and the City ended - Then, in 2004, you needed HBO to say things like "skanky bitch whore" at 10:00PM. Not anymore! NBC has charged into the future where it appears almost anything goes during primetime! And thank God, it's unnatural otherwise.

Lipstick Jungle is quick and funny, topical in a way that Sex wasn't, which endeavored to be timeless and watchable into the next millennium. Jungle goes down easy and is shot in the streets of New York - Wait, I mean the nice streets, not the mean streets of NYPD Blue; the Upper West Side and the midtown boutiques and all the glitzy bits! It's cotton candy and it's delicious!

Get over yourself and just watch it.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Faces I Won't Soon Forget

Jeff and I went to Cuba three years ago. It was our first real vacation together, and, for that, stands as my favourite. It's a magical place, all sun-soaked and lost in time. Old cars running beautifully with retro-fitted German parts, faded advertising from the 1950s, a distinct lack of Americans.

It was a glorious trip full of exciting new experiences. My first time on a plane, a moped, and a bus without windows!

On one of our excursions, we met this little guy. He and his parents operate a sugarcane plantation in the lush, green countryside. As each busload of tourists pulled over to stare, he ran around with his little puppy, instantly entertaining, posing for French Canadian cameras. Exactly on-cue, the little puppy snagged the back of his shorts to expose his tiny little behind. Adorable.

So serious, he was, so dusty, that bit of sweat running down his face. I love this little face.

5 Months Ago

I watched the navigation system as the blue line guiding us down the highway shrunk. 4 kilometers remaining. Everything will be fine. Left turn in 3 kilometers. I can’t believe this happened. 2.5 kilometers remaining. Every increment bringing us closer to some strange reality that had yet to sink in. Back and forth, I convinced myself of many things during that 45 minute drive.

Left turn ahead. The script called for rain and as we coasted those final few tenths of a kilometer, small droplets hit the windshield. It was annoyingly cliché and had the radio been on I’m convinced an indie-rock soundtrack would have played us down Derry Road. As soon as we came upon the one-and-a-half storey red brick building, I knew there’d be no neurotically quirky, inappropriately attractive interns inside waiting to save a life. This building harboured no miracles. It was surreal in the way these things are.

In a frantic, last-ditch mind-fuck, I craned my neck straining to hear Zach Braff yell “Cut!” before trying everything from another angle, a better vantage point. It makes you want to call out for a writer to rework the scene, maybe move the whole thing to a restaurant or country club; perhaps it will end with a party instead of this. Because this can’t be right. Viewers won’t like it, they won’t believe it, and it isn’t November Sweeps. This arc is too big for September. It’s just too early in the season.

I tried not to notice the ratty Canadian flag flying at half-mast as we pushed through the doors. The halls were eerily quiet and poorly lit, the way hospitals appear on TV. Every soundstage that ever made me cringe (the creepily under-lit interrogation room, the offensively tidy third grade classroom, the much-too-large Manhattan bachelor pad) laid itself out in front of us as we walked towards the emergency room. Green with that monotonous droning beep-beep-beep, quaint in the way small-town antique shops are, every poster on the wall appeared meticulously chosen by a set-dresser. I stepped over non-existent cables and wires and swear I heard a young starlet call for makeup.

But this wasn't the stuff of Must-See-TV, there’d be no Emmy's won at season’s end, Isaiah Washington would abuse none of his coworkers today, not here. This was a place where hardworking doctors did all they could, but the denouement would play out sadly and without the pleasure of craft service.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Reading Rainbow, Indeed

I was young when I started reading my Mom's books. There were stacks of them all over the house; every time she checked out at the A&P she'd add another to her collection. Before John Grisham hit the grocery-store-paperback scene with his inspiring anthology of court room dramas, there was Sidney Sheldon. To this day, even his name evokes memories of stealing away to my bedroom with a tattered copy of Windmills of the Gods stowed between the virtuous covers of a Hardy Boys novel. I'd go to town, delving into the juicy lives of the rich and accident-prone, names like Annabelle and Ernestine Littlechap on every page, shoulder-padded suits and expensive yachts, stolen artwork and scandalous trysts in government buildings. I loved it!

If my Mom happened by my bedroom door I'd panic and gesture to the never-read boy-detective story in my lap, instantly conjuring a vivid and detailed plot summary. It wasn't until puberty kicked-in that I saw the real value in the adorable Hardy Boys from Bayport. I put down my Mom's books and spent the next several years with Frank and Joe. It might be the root of my thing for New England-preppy guys in polo shirts.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

I've talked a bit about myself as a kid. Classically nerdy, friendly with teachers, good at math, the whole calligraphy thing. I'm generally not embarassed by my own childhood attraction to suspenders and fedoras; I was stylistically ahead of the curve. But I'm not above admitting I was an indisputable dork. After school I played school like it was my job and I took math problems home for fun. I was what I was.

But, on the Nerd Spectrum, I wasn't at the bottom. I didn't wear glasses. I wasn't a braggart or a grade-grubber, mostly ashamed of my ease with spelling and geography. I laid low and was generally just quiet and conscientious, at least according to my report cards. A+. I had friends who were cool and friends who were dumb. I didn't belong to clubs focused on advancing one's nerdiness or celebrating the great knowledge of life. (Well, I guess aside from that calligraphy stuff.) I think I always hoped to pass as an accidentally smart kid, or at least one who didn't take it too seriously.

I shared a grade four classroom with a little boy named Peter. He was decidedly more geeky than me. Scrawnier, he wore glasses, his hair in tight, brunette curls. He taunted bullies by going as far as to push his glasses up on his nose constantly! On the Spectrum, he was it. He was the categorical, cast-him-for-television, ready-for-his-closeup Nerd. Capital N.

My elementary school was located on the edge of a middle class neighbourhood. To the west, a distinctly poorer subdivision. Dank three-storey-walkups, run-down duplexes, semi-detached houses with obese ladies on the porch. Cascade Avenue. This street made the rest of the neighbourhood, the one to the east, appear wholesome and pleasant. Green lawns, tidy driveways free of car parts, that sort of thing. The division was stark and probably offensive. We, on the right side of the tracks, silently delighted in our own minor success, measured by cheap Formica countertops and pantries lined with Kraft Dinner. We'd drive down Cascade Ave in our used sedan, subconsciously patting ourselves on the back.

Little nerdy Peter made me cool, if only by comparison. I have very few regrets in my life, I mean, what's the point? But one day, in the hall outside our grade four classroom, I pinched Peter on the back of his arm. And he screamed out in pain, his face crinkled up, he looked at me like I was a monster. Friendly fire, or something like it. I pinched him on the back of his arm, that horrible place that hurts so bad. I wish I could find him, take him on Oprah and tell him I'm sorry. Because that was so shitty. We were in that together, Peter and I, knee-deep in geekdom, no matter the degree to which we each quietly suffered.

Margot at the Wedding

From writer/director Noah Baumbach (The Squid and the Whale) comes the first decent movie Nicole Kidman has attached herself to since The Hours. Yes, it's quirky. Yes, it's kind of sad and dark and slow. Yes, it ends abruptly and sure, it has moments of complete hot-mess craziness, but it's a great story about a family dealing with its sordid past, its malfunctioning relationships, and its uncertain future.

Nicole Kidman does off-the-wall really well (remember To Die For?) and she looks almost normal - None of that blonde monochromatic-face-hair Lloyd Robertson thing she has going on nowadays. It's nice to see a little contrast, you know? Jack Black is great, Jennifer Jason Leigh is kooky and insane like I like her, and the palette and cinematography are pretty, soft, and vintagey-looking. If you want to sit down, be quiet, and watch people act crazier than you think you have a tendency to be, you'll enjoy Margot at the Wedding.

Friday, February 22, 2008

What's Your Damage, Heather?

Showcase. You know the one I'm talking about. Homoerotic movies made in the 80s, racy crime dramas and foreign films with subtitles. You remember the nights you'd spend as an awkward teen tuning in, hoping for something sexy. It made you feel alive! Sophisticated and adult. "This program contains scenes with nudity, sexuality, violence and coarse language. Viewer discretion is advised." (Don't pretend you can't hear her voice in your head. She's like a Canadian icon!) And a 4-banger! Nudity, sexuality, violence AND coarse language?! Yeehaw! If I'd been a 40+ cougar, instead of a pubescent 13 year old shut-in, I'd have poured myself a smart cocktail, thrown the phone off its hook, and told my friends to kiss it: Fridays Without Borders is me time!

Showcase has impressed me throughout time. And not only for cheap teenage thrills! Then it was my secret, now I shout from the mountaintops! The Life and Times of Vivienne Vyle, Dead Like Me, Sin Cities, Naked Josh, Family Business, and Weeds! Oh man!

Adding to this incredible lineup of titillating episodic television is Damages starring Glenn Close. She plays a high stakes litigator who stomps all over Manhattan in designer duds and effortlessly commanding hairstyles. In the pilot we get a lot of information, conflicting, confusing, edge-of-your-seat details about everything and nothing! It grabs you like the first season of 24, and makes you scream out when the credits roll, "More! Just tell me a little more!" It's tight and economical, plot points delivered like personal letters in the mail. Complete with Tate Donovan, Ted Danson, and Zeljko Ivanek (he's played every creepy doctor, corrupt cop and sociopathic Russian mob boss since 1982) this show is everything I love - Think Machiavellian Erin Brockovich with better makeup, less cleavage and upon whose jawline you could slice smoked meat sandwiches for an army of 101 Dalmatians fans. A dream!

Episode One is repeating all week - Catch it and get on board! It's fantastic.

Sex and the City

So, my expectations have been decidedly low for the Sex & the City movie. I was a die-hard fan, watching each episode more than 25 times, like some sort of 30 year old woman. Obsessed. I loved it. I downloaded the episodes after they aired in America, waiting in agony as my Kazaa worked overtime. I remember when the final episode finally aired and a few spoiler-shirking days later Sandi and I curled onto our couch with a box of Kleenex. It was terribly sad to say goodbye, but like Sarah Jessica Parker said on her nationwide press tour, it's always best to leave the party at its height.

Well, mark your calendars. On May 30th the party rages on. And suddenly I'm very excited. Check out the full length trailer!

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Day Six

So, the gym is working out. Pun intended.

Tomorrow will be my sixth day, and so far so good. Each outing I add another element; perhaps a few lat-pulldowns or a new leg exercise. I always start with 30 minutes on the elliptical trainer, breaking a good sweat to my gym-friendly iTunes playlist (Madonna-heavy, if you must know). I've been getting there between 9 and 10AM, when it's less busy and the odds of total intimidation are diminished. There tend to be a dozen or so spread out all over the place, most of which are quickly becoming familiar faces. I am gaining confidence with every strained muscle.

There's a regular cast of characters; a tattooed dude with nerdy glasses, a gay Mediterranean couple who seem resentful of each other, and the cute woman who works reception. She started recognizing me on Day Two, letting me in with a smile when I couldn't find my little card. She's exactly the kind of person who should be behind that desk: she's nice but she doesn't have expectations. It's early, we all know that, so let's not feel pressured into pleasant conversation. She makes me feel at-ease, and for that I want to dive over the desk and kiss her on the mouth. I wish I knew her Starbucks order, I'd bring her something! That would be nice, no?

I like to watch others, to see how each machine works, but really hoping I'll catch them feeling awkward or out of their element, struggling with something, looking like me. It gives me great satisfaction to see a pair of calves skinnier than my own, and even better when they're attached to a man. These things encourage me to get up early tomorrow, another day, another added muscle group.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Let's All Go To The Movies

I haven't been posting. Short on things to say, I suppose. Which, if you know me, is a true rarity, so get it while it's hot.

The 80th Annual Academy Awards are coming up. There was a time, not long ago, when I'd see every nominated film, dissect every performance, spend hours considering the art direction and costumes, and when I'd buy up all the soundtracks to relive every orchestral moment. When I watch a movie, I tend to really watch it. I've been known to see movies at the theatre several times in one week (The Hours, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind) and enjoy Inside the Actor's Studio immensely.

I have that guy tendencies.

In recent years, though, my dedication to the filmic arts has dwindled. I work in the evening, so I simply don't have time to see as many movies, and, truthfully, can't stand being around people in theatres. No one is there to be quiet and take in the cinematography. They are there for the snacks, maybe they like the washrooms? I don't know. I saw Juno several weeks ago and was seated next to a woman and her daughter who spent most of the time text-messaging, beep-beep-beeping, keypad-volume somewhere in the vicinity of thunderous. I stared her down until her mother told her to put it away. They chatted, they munched on popcorn, the teenager asked stupid questions about the plot - It was horrific.

So, rather than spend $15 on an accidental-date with some jackass, I miss a lot of movies. Particularly this time of year when they just keep coming. I've seen a pathetic one Best Picture contender, and a paltry 4 of 20 Best Acting performances. I used to be someone with a genuine opinion. Who have I become?

And I remember the day movies became something to me. Really something.

In 1999 Sandi and I hopped the 2A Dundas to the Galleria, a mostly-abandoned shopping mall built to revitalize the downtown. When it opened it was fairly fantastic; glitzy, with fountains and glass elevators. Very 1990s. A big food court, a shiny new Gap store, and a movie theatre. Eventually, as the suburbs expanded on all sides, it became clear the downtown could not be rescued by Mrs. Vanelli or anyone else. Downtown was a place for used CDs and shitty bars, stripclubs and darkened storefronts.

Years later the decaying Cineplex Odeon in the mall became something new, a place where "art films" played. A dream! Sandi and I (happy to be the kind of people who took-in an art film on a Saturday afternoon) got off the bus and walked to the mall, quiet aside from the whir of escalators and a distant thumping dance beat from the Le Chateau that seemed suicidal in its refusal to move out. We bought our tickets and hunkered down in the dated (yet utterly comfortable) seats.

And then a voice: "One is the loneliest number, one is the loneliest number . . ." I was captivated like I'd never been before. Magnolia, a P.T. Anderson film. Initials for a name, he was really something! And for more than three hours, I didn't take my eyes off the screen, my ears off the music. Its manic Tom Cruise, its remarkable Julianne Moore, this movie changed everything for me. It made me believe frogs could fall from the sky and it made me listen to music differently, soon discovering not all musicians are gifted in the ways of Aimee Mann. That little boy, do you remember? When he says to his Dad, "You need to be nicer to me." That kid changed things too.

I don't know how I'll ever have time to see new movies, when there are so many old ones I need to watch again and again.

Friday, February 15, 2008


My Grandma and I write letters. We don't talk on the phone very often, and see each other every 3 or 4 months. Jeff and I stop in for a visit and she frantically scoops vanilla ice cream into stale cones while my Grandpa scrambles to get some cheese on a plate, offers bananas or oranges, always a glass of ginger ale. Those two have taught me how to host - Always making sure guests are taken care of, sitting side-saddle in their chairs should someone decide a cup of tea would be nice.

I love getting her monthly correspondence, often on very random note paper from hotels they've visited, or, like yesterday, large white hearts she cut out of paper ("I couldn't get out to the store, on account of all this snow, so I thought this would be nice!"). She almost always draws pictures on the envelope, of she, my sister and me tobogganing in the countryside, or ducks in a pond. Always scenic. On the front of the envelope she addresses it differently each time; sometimes Jeff and Jay Hudson, sometimes Jay and Jeff Patterson, sometimes simply, classically, Mr. Jason Hudson. They usually start "Dear Jay (Hi Jeff!)", always a shout-out, sometimes added later, in a different colour of ink, but there, reminding me how much she really loves him. I usually crawl into bed and read them aloud, stumbling over grammar and abrupt shifts in topic. I save every letter, and its envelope, reading through them once in a while.

I wrote my Grandma a letter last summer. Well, I wrote it two years before that, but finally sent it in July. I had a list of questions, some tough, hard-hitting, others less-so. I asked her to think it over, and if she thought she could, take some time to answer them. I knew it would be hard, but I'm desperate to know a little more about her.

My sister and I spent much of our childhood at her house - weekend sleepovers, March Breaks, P.D. Days. We'd go without cable just to be near her. Ice cream and Jell-O flowed like water, often dessert came before dinner. We'd dress up in her clothes and lip sync for her, she'd go silent and slide off the "chesterfield" in stitches. We'd walk down the block to the bulk food store to stock up on candy, tea parties and forts under the dining room table. She'd twist the skin of her eyelids into crepey little points to make us giggle and she'd slap herself in the belly just to get a laugh. She was a clown and she let us use her good china cups. She told us stories of her childhood as we fell asleep, all three monkeys in one big bed. We played Eye Spy and sat in her sunporch watching the world go by. She created a place for us where we could do no wrong, with a never-ending supply of homemade pie. I know she enjoyed it as much as we did.

In my letter I asked her about her most joyful moment, her saddest. What makes her angry, what she wishes she'd done. I asked her if she thought she was a good mother, if she loved my Grandpa when she married him. I wrote each question at the top of a blank page and asked that she write her answer below and send it back to me. I got the first one today and promised I wouldn't tell anyone what it said.

I didn't think I could love her more than I already did.

One of my oldest friends, Brian is the greatest. He is funnier than me, and quicker than me, taller and blonder than me. More muscled and fit, considerably nicer, probably smarter, and definitely more adept at quoting Sex & the City. In several ways, he's who I long to be.

When I first met him in a subway station (which one, exactly, escapes me now) he seemed to me the picture of young urban sophistication. He wore a peacoat and had a Metropass. He went to an arts high school, knocked about all over town, and came out when he was like 4 years old. He lived the life I so desired, and just being around him made me feel alive and vital. He talked about pop culture like it mattered, conversations I'd had with Mary Hart, but only in my head. No one else I knew at the time knew so much about movies and television; sitting together in a café, we'd discuss the merits of Moulin Rouge for hours on end. I have the fondest memories of singing and dancing to our own obnoxious belting of the Rent soundtrack. The life I coveted so blatantly was quickly becoming my own.

It seemed we could do no wrong for each other, and soon we were friends the ways friends should be: unconditional, effortless, and ordinary, the way you don't consider your lungs, but there they are, critical and present, working away inside of you.

After a particularly difficult period, Brian is spending the next several months in Australia. Time for himself, to see the world, learn to surf. At my and his father's request, he has started a blog. If you like mine, you will like his - Funny and sweet and everything he is. I miss him terribly, in a strange and unfamiliar way. Even though we could sometimes allow several weeks to pass without a visit, knowing he was here in the city was like waking up knowing your kidneys hadn't been harvested while you slept.

But he's far away, a day ahead, a season behind, trying desperately to learn the backwards ways of the down under. I feel like I woke up in a tub full of ice, something missing.

Thursday, February 14, 2008


So, it's Valentine's Day.

We don't really celebrate holidays, particularly ones like this. The whole thing just feels dirty and exploitative. The last thing we need is chocolate, and a greeting card written by a committee of strangers means about as much to me as a slap across my tight, young face.

But, that doesn't mean I can't gush lovingly about my own sweet Valentine. The one winking mischievously and looking all tall, midrange skin-tone-wise, and handsome.

We're approaching the 5 year mark in our relationship, and boy is that obvious. We share a house and a life and a 750 gram brick of cheese nightly. We're at that gorgeous stage where our little quirks and foibles are nearly attractive. The charm in a real lack of morning-skills starts to shine through. There's a certain something in the way someone can at once piss you off and warm your heart. It makes me recall being a kid, when I'd ask my Mom why my Dad would say or do something, and she'd reply "He's been like this for 35 years, and he'll be like this forever." I always thought she was being passive, but I'm starting to see how these things are just true, and in that, lovely. There's no changing people, as Jeff certainly knows; he's been begging me for years to stop crash-bam-slamming around the house, but I can't, it's what I do. Subtlety is not my strong suit, in case you don't know me, and I'll be like this forever.

I can't say for sure what I'd change about him, but I know for certain what I wouldn't. Not his quick wit, or his misguided attempts at discussing politics. Not his ability to tell it like it is, even when it isn't, or his apparent mandate to put his foot in his mouth publicly. I wouldn't change the way he loves his friends or the way he looks holding a baby. I wouldn't change how great jeans showcase his ass, or how nice he is to strangers. I wouldn't dare change the way he listens to me read letters from my Grandma, the moment they arrive, a monthly ritual that means so much to me. I wouldn't change how he shakes his head in disbelief when my sister and I go off on one of our tag-team-tangents, or the way he rocks himself to sleep at night. And I wouldn't change the way he playfully tells me to shut the fuck up! when I've simply been talking too much.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008


I'm a bit obsessed with this website. It's a stock photography site where you can search for anything. I typed in "vintage" and came up with tons of great stuff. Unless you pay, though, the images are small, but perfect for emailing or finessing blasé Facebook events; make your own hilarious e-cards, perhaps! (Some knowledge of Photoshop will help, as making screen caps and editing out water marks will increase your image size and quality.) Have fun!

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Day One

It should come as no surprise that I'm rather unathletic. Most days I can barely pull off physically able. I trip when hurrying up the stairs, I even kick myself in the ankles if I'm not paying attention. I break glassware on a daily basis; a genuine lack of coordination the culprit every time. I fake it well, walking confidently wherever I go, dancing up a storm at weddings, that kind of thing, but don't ask me to walk a balance beam or participate in any light-hearted pick-up football games. The idea of catching a ball or a pen or anything someone might toss my way is enough to give me an anxiety attack.

So, keep all of that in mind when I tell you I started going to the gym today. Day One.

Even the shoe store where I bought my gym-appropriate footwear was intimidating, a cold sweat and increased heart rate immediate upon crossing the threshold. I had no idea what would happen when I got to the gym, waking nightmares of Adonises named Luke and Everett having plagued me for weeks. Thinking back on those awful ninth grade gym classes, I feared being that lanky, awkward queer in the wrong shoes, stumbling around tanned beach bodies, eventually falling into some Lucille Ball-style sight gag where I get my towel caught in the treadmill.

From a young age, I was placed in a category. I’d answer the phone, a salesman on the other end, an utter stranger, would crush me with one pleasant, opening line: “Good evening, Mrs. Hudson, I have a great new product to tell you about . . .” When I ran in the yard, I usually screamed. “Don’t scream like a girl!” my Dad would shout, so instead I’d barely speak, hiding out in the basement, dressing Barbie, undressing her. Perhaps Ken and Barbie had a dysfunctional marriage. Perhaps I’d invite one Ken doll to gently kiss another. Perhaps Ken screamed like a girl from time to time.

I was a boy who dared not play sports, who could not swing a hammer. A boy who had only girls for friends, one who hung out with the school secretary at lunch, for whatever reason.

Eventually, for fear of belonging to a group with so few members, I learned to keep certain things to myself: the backyard screaming, the Barbies, the penchant for stationery supplies. I learned to have no opinion of Diane Keaton’s Oscar dress. I’d stop helping my Mom bake at Christmastime, but rather feign interest in snowball fights. Even stifling my thoughts on abortion, for fear of being too pro-woman. It was similar to being the smart kid. You’d pretend not to know the answer, though of course you did. Boys like me had a lot to consider.

I spent most days in Phys Ed hoping I was doing it right. Not the sports, but the sitting. Praying I’d studied the other boys long enough to see how they nonchalantly sat with one knee raised, their arm draped over it, just so, as though they'd given it no thought. I’d hold my own limp wrist rock-steady, which wasn’t very natural at all. It was like they were born to huddle-up and catch things. I was not. I wore my uniform under my jeans, making every-other-day warmer than the rest, all bunched-up and uncomfortable. It was torture. Add that whole locker room scenario, hot bullies in underwear, and it's a recipe for disaster. I think Gym Class should be eradicated, it's only purpose to humiliate and divide the group: Athletes, ipso facto, men. And then the ones who can't jump hurdles.

But I guess I'm not that kid anymore. Not totally, anyway. I went today, Day One. I elliptically-trained, I curled some weights, and I left. No one pushed me or called me a fag or judged me harshly. Part of me will always be that kid, and I'm okay with that, because who else am I, really, but that kid? I still scream like a girl, from time to time, but now it's hilarious. I like to think it's become part of my charm.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Away From Her

There's a fire crackling on one side, and a glass of wine on the other. I'm listening to Adele and watching the wind whip another layer of snow onto the heaps already piled outside the door. Winter up north is a different thing. It becomes pretty and scenic, the first many meters of Georgian Bay frozen solid, waves crashing beyond for miles to a fuzzy, grey horizon. Somehow bare trees aren't so desperate and icy windows shine romantically. Every chance we get to cozy-up at the cottage is a dream. Complete with wireless internet and most other creature comforts, it's not so much a cottage, but it's away, and it's quiet, and it's nowhere near anything taller than two storeys.

Jeff is reading in the living room, his wine glass in desperate need of refilling. He appears every once in a while to stoke the fire (that's his department, you see; I'm in charge of other things, like the grilled cheese sandwiches we had for lunch, music, and the empty glass beside him.) Happy in our roles, enjoying our separate togetherness.

We finished watching Sarah Polley's directorial debut, Away From Her, starring Canadian great, Gordon Pinsent and the astounding Julie Christie. Not only do these two characters, Grant and Fiona, love each other deeply, they also happen to spend much of the movie at the cottage. It might be why I'm thinking so much about the man in the other room, his wine glass now full, his pages turning at an ever-decreasing speed.

Heartbreaking and quiet, Away From Her is a story about grief and the distance between two people. It's about compromise and partnership and self-sacrifice. It's a perfect snapshot of an imperfect marriage, like when Fiona so beautifully wonders why anyone would want "to be in love every single day. What a liability!" I won't tell you too much, I'd prefer you watch the movie, but suffice it to say, we spent two hours crying and marveling at Kristen Thomson's Kristy.

We'll start thinking about dinner soon. Salmon and carrots, potatoes perhaps. But that's my department. We'll have more of this so-so wine, continue to digest this movie, prepare to watch another. Happily cocooned, no longer able to see the snow out there in the dark.

Jeff's book is now resting in his lap, one of his power-catnaps in progress. I can't imagine where else I'd want to be right now.

Friday, February 8, 2008

New York Fashion Week

I'm a bit obsessed with Project Runway and clothes in general - What an incredible talent to possess, the designing and constructing of clothes. On that long list of skills I wish I had is the ability to sit at a sewing machine and alter my clothes to fit me perfectly. A neat hem or a just-right blazer. I love red carpet pre-shows, Vogue, and watching Katie Holmes blossom at precisely the same rate Nicole Kidman did in the 90s. I love to read Esquire magazine for its little fashion tips and tricks, such a focus on old-school gentlemanly skills and virtues. The last issue had a great article about how to be an exceptional gift giver and how to properly store one's cufflinks. Awfully romantic, no? I often wish I was a fantastically flamboyant film star of the 50s, gallivanting with Vera Ellen, force-feeding her cheeseburgers while re-enacting scenes from White Christmas. You know, old-school gentlemanly activities like that.

I took a flip through the collections already showcased at New York Fashion Week and saw some beautiful things. It made me wish I could rewind to November so I could re-do my Fall 2007. Not that I want to prolong winter, of course, but if there's one reason to live in this climate, it's the vast style spectrum we can access. I love looking at high-quality garments. Lord knows I have none of my own, and I know a $500 sweater is just ridiculous, but you can see the craftsmanship. If you buy right, these classic duds will be in your wardrobe forever.

The collections that jumped out at me featured chunky sweaters and preppy coats, earthy staples and poppy accents. The first look, DKNY, really grabbed me; I've been into the greys and browns lately, and that sweater makes me want a ski chalet, a good book, and a gin on the rocks. I also find the model attractive, in a very dangerously-sharp-faced-Russian sort of way. The Michael Kors suit, all sheen-y and slim-fit has been on my mind for some time. I wish I had a few thousand dollars to invest in a good suit. Loving the chunky pea soup sweater and the newsboy-meets-Arctic-prospector hat. The quilted maroon zippy and the patterned shirt are nice, rich details (all Perry Ellis) and Lacoste steals my heart with that snappy mustard yellow. I love the collared grey cardigan, but I'm not sure my slender frame could carry it. I'd be willing to give it a shot.

For now I'll stick to H&M, its pilling sweaters with a shelf life of 30 days.

Things That Make Me Jealous

So, while roving around the blogosphere (see side bar, "GO ROVE YOURSELF" for some of my favourites) I found a great example of the kind of "rustic" I want to add to my life. From Better Homes & Gardens [AUGUST 2007], this fresh take on the typical 50s-style sunburst mirror makes me insane! I love it. Also, I have a thing for globes (though I have just one so far; nice ones are hard to come by!) A collection like this is my dream, and I love love love how the orbs diminish in size with the pitched roof. Charm central! That gorgeous coffee table, the driftwood accessories and that beautiful chair: All these elements make me palpitate! Wouldn't you love to have your coffee out by the dock, go antiquing all morning, hunker down in your Muskoka chair with a pitcher of gin and lemonade until the sun sets, then curl up by the fire in a place like this? Sigh. You're damn right I would.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

30% Less Life

I can’t quite understand why we continue, year after year, to put ourselves through winter. I mean, it’s not without its benefits; I’ve always believed winter is what makes us who we are, as a people. More frivolously, I enjoy sweaters and scarves and snappy leather gloves as much as the next guy. And we all know there’s nothing like spring, which would be nothing without winter to usher it in. The breeze warms, buds push out of frost-bitten branches, and that spring fever rushes up inside you like vomit after a good night of drinking, sudden and jarring, but in a good way. Those April days, fresh air swirling around your knick knacks for the first time in months, you hear a streetcar whip by, ding ding, while doing the dishes. Wow. All of those gorgeous little moments wouldn’t be nearly as exciting if they happened year-round.

But still.

There are people who don’t know what it’s like to get salt stains on the hem of their pants, rust on their cars. People who don’t know from scraping ice and snow off a front stoop. Bundling up, five layers deep, just to put out the trash. As resilient Canadians, we make it our business to make it through the season, as if it were a measure of our national pride. But don't we see how much happier we are, as a people, in the middle of July, when we dance in the streets, drink mojitos and expose so much skin? Don't we know the freedom of flip flops is unparalleled?

Jeff and I talk about throwing it all away and socking our money into a shack on the coast of some Central American country. We’d be perfectly happy to live on the beach, gorge on sunlight, and adjust our idea of business casual to swim trunks and freckles. We’d have golden tans and fresh fruit at our fingertips. Salt-water baths every day, our skin flawless and exfoliated to within an inch of its life. And even when it's not bright-sun-and-margaritas, at least it's warm. When we were in Mexico, we had a full day of torrential rain, but couldn’t have been happier to sit on our little balcony, warm and moist, reading Esquire and British Esquire, looking up at each other once in a while, as if to say “There’s nowhere I’d rather be.” Rainy days at 1°C are simply not that romantic.

Or maybe I'm just being all like that. Not appreciating the amazing seasonal charms we -- I can't even finish the sentence. Words like endure, or suffer through, or survive are the only ones that spring to mind. I can't bring "are lucky enough to witness" to my fingers. We have 100 forms of depression, 90 straight days of grey, dozens of potential slip-and-falls. It's miserable for 30% of our life. What are we doing?! If someone offered you a job and said "I should let you know, you'll be clinically depressed 1/3 of your time with us," you'd tell them to shove it up their ass! And yet, here we are.

I guess, much like that crappy job, we're here for the health benefits and the constant promise of meeting other cynical Canadian-mades with whom we can share a laugh. As a people.

Turn Left at the Apocalypse

When did everything change? I mean, really? I feel like the world has devolved while evolving at an alarming rate these past few years. Once upon a time we could go without bottled water for more than 10 minutes, our throats self-lubricating and moist for hours at a time! There was a day when it didn’t seem utterly blasphemous to eat a sandwich on white bread, we were spared sidelong looks from coworkers as if we were caught chowing down on a newborn baby. A time when we left the house and our telephone behind, never vaguely concerned about our temporary lack of communication. We lived in a world, not too long ago, where a vacation was real, without internet access or remote conference calls via satellite. You could have a conversation with a friend who wasn’t thumbing through his Blackberry as if his life depended on it. And I know this isn’t original. I know Seinfeld fielded these tough questions on a weekly basis back when things started changing, before Pluto was kicked out of our solar system, but really!

As I bit into my whole grain bread today, I asked myself why I was eating it. Is it because advertisements and so-called health professionals have convinced me it’s right, or is it for fear of being behind the times? When you walk down the street and catch sight of a man on a late-90s-model Nokia, you notice, don’t you? Admit it. You notice. It’s as if he’s talking into a military-grade walkie-talkie – Huge and sturdy, well-built and equipped for battle. We want it smaller, faster, more delicious and nutritious. We want it now, five minutes ago, and yesterday. We don’t look forward to anything, we only regret what we didn’t just do. I feel like a miserable old man, rocking in my chair, cursing the world. But really. When did everything get so crazy?

The times change too quickly, and yet not fast enough. All the things we don’t need altered change tri-annually (iPods, health kicks, celebrity It-Girls) and the things we need right now seem to be taking forever (electric cars, an “exit strategy”, gay marriage for all!). We have all the technology in the world to make Facebooking the most convenient and efficient it can possibly be, but we don’t yet have a cure for cancer. We don’t even have a cure for the common cold, for God’s sake! Who’s the project manager on that? Kids are getting fatter, our life expectancy might actually be moving in reverse, and reality TV seems to be getting closer to depicting reality. We’re going backwards! Hulk Hogan is experiencing a second round of fame – Where have we gone wrong?!

I find the whole thing terrifying. At this rate, I’m not sure where we’ll be in even my lifetime. Britney Spears’ vulva is familiar to me and I fear sodium and cholesterol the way I once feared the underside of my bed at night. I just don’t think that’s right. When did everything change?

We've had more snow downtown in the past six weeks than in the 5 years I've lived here. I'm from the snowbelt (London, Ontario) so I get snow. I know what it's like to shovel driveways and trudge to school in knee-high drifts. I know what it's like to sweat in February.

They say it takes just 30 days to make behaviour habitual. In 5 years I've gotten very used to our utter lack of snow. I've become accustomed to green Christmases and warm, dry Januarys. When I visit my sister, I shudder at the heaps and piles, the stand-still traffic and the slushy gutters.

This greenhouse I live in suits me fine.

Of course, we always get a bit of snow downtown, but until this point, there was a never even a need for winter apparel. You could go the whole season in a warm fall jacket, layered with a sweater. Gloves were often optional. Each November I downgraded a pair of shoes to become my winter shoes. Though I still pranced and dove over puddles, avoiding shoe-eating-salt, this pair had been chosen, elbowed down the footwear pecking order, and would be abandoned in April.

But enough! Enough I say! This year I went to my local Canadian Tire store and purchased a pair of $12 rubber boots. Though they don't keep my feet warm, they do keep them dry. My walk to work is less than 5 minutes and most of my other commuting (television to kitchen, computer to bed, living room to dining room) does not require footwear of any kind. There is nothing so liberating as to kick through a slushy gutter, or cut around a slow-moving pair on the sidewalk by off-roading in the park. Go people! Get a pair of boots! Take back the winter! Never another sacrificial sneaker.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

That's Fontastic

There's a long list of things I wish I could do. It's tucked away in the back of my brain, plaguing me only mildly, once in a while. I wish I could play the piano, rewire a lamp, watch Oprah without crying. Also, I wish I knew how to create a font, one to replicate my own handwriting.

I was one of those kids, weird and scholastic, with a deep fondness for stationery supplies. Those terminal August days before the new school year were some of my favourites, filled with sharpening pencils, organizing my Note Tote binder, and deciding what I'd wear. I was happy to get back to my teachers and my Hilroy notepaper, 4 for a dollar. I loved pens, in particular. I collected and stockpiled them in my bedroom, where I'd take them out, lay them on my desk and marvel at my growing assortment. I loved to write on all types of paper, to see how the ink would react, to really decide if I was a ballpoint man, or a rollerball. Did I mention I was totally insane? I had dozens more pens than I could ever use and spent far too much time perfecting my signature.

I joined the Calligraphy Club (you're not surprised, are you?) when I was in grade four, strictly motivated by the promise of a new pen, I'm certain. I loved the tiny vials of ink, a full spectrum of colours. They were expensive and made me feel like some kind of intellectual, part of a British aristocracy. I wrote letters to my Grandma with these pens, impressing her with my penmanship, something not everyone in her day could quite figure out. When we were young she was our greatest fan, I think deeply satisfied by our bookishness. Tidy longhand assured her we'd be okay in the world. She'd get teary, holding my notes, shaking her head, telling me how "beautiful" my writing was. She loved to use that word to describe almost anything - my shirt, my singing voice, my bad mood. It mortified me because I knew I shouldn't want to be associated with a word so delicate, though, of course, she meant no malice. "Handsome, Grandma!" I'd hiss, hoping my Dad hadn't heard her description of me.

The advent of the computer replaced my love of traditional office supplies. It also had a degrading effect on the quality of my handwriting. But I soon fell in love with fonts; accurate and consistent, they never ran out of ink or hit an invisible scuff on the page, ruining half a greeting card. There are endless styles, infinite variables, and my calligraphy was never as good then as it can be now. I wish I could make one based on my own dilapidated scrawl, so I could at least pretend to fill out my Valentines by hand this year. I think it breaks my Grandma's heart that the only bit of my penmanship she sees these days is my name, chicken-scratched at the bottom of my word-processed-letters, even the envelope etched out on my computer. I think this is why old people hate technology; in it, their loved ones are nowhere to be found.

I'm part of a very unique and elitist book club. There are just three members, and we insist on reading bad books. Apparently.

While Jonathan Franzen (The Corrections, How to be Alone) has a real way with words and the ability to describe the most mundane situations with startling beauty, he's also kind of crazy, and totally obnoxious. His memoir The Discomfort Zone: A Personal History beats around the bush of his life story, dipping in and out on various tangents about cartoons and high school high jinks. Like a poorly sequenced album, or one with just too many tracks, the good stuff (and it's really quite brilliant) is overshadowed by the boring, self-indulgent, or the über-intellectual. What a shame.

But allow me to hang on the positive. His mother has died and he's telling us how she has, over the years, finally perfected her home, having "pondered the arrangement of paintings on a wall like a writer pondering commas."

Although the furniture in her final draft was sturdy and well-made, of good cherry and maple, my brothers and I couldn't make ourselves want what we didn't want; I couldn't prefer her maple nightstand to the scavenged wine crate that I kept by my bed in New York. And yet to walk away and leave her house so fully furnished, so nearly the way she'd always wanted it to look, gave me the same panicked feeling of waste that I'd had two months earlier, when I'd left her still-whole body, with her hands and her eyes and her lips and her skin so perfectly intact and lately functional, for a mortician's helpers to take away and burn.

Nice, right?

Anyway. Perhaps there's an abridged version, with just the parts readers might care to read. It would be about 8 pages long, but a fantastic mini-memoir for sure.

Our book club meetings are really more about the food and wine anyway, who are we kidding? And, naturally, themes are important. I chose this book, so I hosted our chat. I had thematic options - Serve up the food of Jonathan Franzen's childhood (real Middle American fare - a casserole, or a pineapple upside down cake!) or serve food of the era, the late 60s and 70s. Because I'm no good with meatloaf, I opted for a true 1970s-dinner-party-staple: Cheese fondue!

Jeff and I are big fondue people, but I've never actually made cheese fondue, only oil-based for meat and seafood, or, of course, chocolate. And get this: It's super easy!

Grate 250 grams of swiss, and 250 grams of gruyere. I got mine at the market and it cost about $16. Mix 2 tablespoons of flour, 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg, and a whack of freshly ground pepper - Sprinkle that over your grated cheese and toss to coat. You can do this part ahead, if you like. I did, so when my guests arrived, I could just do the melting and cooking, and not the grating and prep. No guest wants to watch you grate cheese.

About half an hour before you want to eat, pour 1 3/4 cups white wine into a medium-sized pot. (I used a much-too-large pot - not that it really matters - because I was nervous and wanted to guarantee ample stirring-clearance. Be assured, you can use a standard "medium-sized" pot.) Back to the wine. You know the rules: If you wouldn't drink it, you shouldn't be cooking with it! A dry white wine is recommended. Pictured above is Kim Crawford's Sauvignon Blanc - Don't use that. It's very fruity and far too pricey. I used an Italian Pinot Grigio (Collavini, $14.05) which was great. Allow that to simmer on medium-high heat, until bubbles start rising to the surface: 6 - 8 minutes. Stir handfuls of cheese into the wine in a zig-zag pattern - If you stir in circles, the cheese could ball-up on you. Melt handful after handful until it's all in. It will thicken up beautifully and the house will smell like sweaty balls - Mmm!

Now, here's the thing. Most recipes call for an ounce of kirsch - a cherry brandy. I don't need that, particularly, so didn't want to invest in a whole bottle. Inexplicably we had a bottle of Kirsberry (a cherry liqueur) in the cupboard, so I added about half-an-ounce of that, when the cheese was fully melted. For good measure I tossed in a splash of the delicious Prosecco we were drinking. I also stirred in 1/8 teaspoon of minced garlic. Keep stirring, let it all soak in. Give it five minutes or so, then transfer it to the fondue pot. A note on fondue pots: We are avid fan-dues. We have experienced fondue via many different types. Our electric Cuisinart is fantastic. Even, consistent heat, an ultra non-stick surface, and it's totally immersible for cleaning! If you love fondue (and how could you not?) it's worth the small investment.

Serve with cubes of bread, an inch square or smaller. The bread should be a bit . . . stale. I cut mine up before my guests arrived and allowed it to sit out for about 30 minutes. You don't want that chewy, moist freshness. You know? This will easily feed 6 to 8 people, and more if there's another fondue course to follow.

Oh, in case you're wondering, T.J. announced his choice for our next Book Club Selection: Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen. See you next month.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Winnie's Treasures

We all have them. Those special items we are sure to put up high when babies or drunk friends are around. Things that are likely worth nothing and everything all at once. Gifts received or roses-among-thorns, culled from a heap at the flea market.

My great-grandma was a treasure hunter. She lived until she was 94. She traveled the world and packed little items into her luggage. Charms and wooden crafts, little boxes and pottery. I bet she gulped a bit of excited air into her lungs when she spotted something on an artisan's table, surely unaware she'd someday give it to a great-grandson she really seemed to love.

Every time we saw her, she'd give us something. A trinket she'd found in a place far away, or something she'd made. She knitted slippers and made my favourite strawberry freezer jam. I remember being mesmerized by her. Petite and delicate, not like anyone in my family. Not a farmer or a hard-working machinist. She wore accessories. Long strings of beads or jewels, earrings, bracelets even! Items covered by the sleeve of a lovely blouse, but there, for her to know about. She spoke quietly, smiling. She had lunches with friends, and invited us for tea and delicious little ginger snap cookies. She was never in my blood, but maybe moreso than many people, really, she was. You see, she adopted my grandmother and her three siblings; her vitality and longevity, unfortunately, a few critical degrees away. She was special. She had a little apartment, beautifully decorated. Robin's egg blue walls and lovely furniture. Art work on every available surface. And treasures.

In retrospect, she must have known something was different about me. She gave me these little items no little boy would typically want, let alone cradle in their arms, marveling at to this day. A proud cloisonné bird, decorated with swirls of blue and silver, metal legs. Magical. A beautiful piggy bank, with a handle! I remember thinking, How exotic! And the word "Japan" carved into the bottom. I placed them high on a shelf where they'd be safe, but with a clear view from my bed.

Her photo hangs in my kitchen, where I see her every day, and wish I'd asked a million more questions.

The Comeback

I have a long list of movies, shows, and books to look into. You know how it is: You hear about this and that, your friends make recommendations, then Oprah pimps Eat, Pray, Love and you don't know what to do first! Suddenly your jotting notes on everything, including your boyfriend's face in the middle of the night, for fear of forgetting about something hilarious or fantastic. I have a basket on my desk full of scraps of paper, some of which make no sense to me anymore. I've flipped through old, abandoned journals only to find comprehensive lists of, what appear to be, album titles and musical artists - I immediately have a palpitation, wondering how this supposedly-great stuff may have benefitted me and how I can get my hands on it. Gah! It can be very stressful!

My dear friend Brian has been talking about The Comeback for a long time. Of course, I knew it existed. Of course, I knew I'd like it. But somehow it got on that list, behind 1000 other amazing things. If you can sift through the garbage, we live in a fairly fantastic time, pop culturally - And don't get me started on the merits of TV-on-DVD!

Michael Patrick King (Sex & The City) and Lisa Kudrow put their heads together to create this sad and hilarious look at the desperate world of the television sitcom, through the eyes of the twice-as-desperate world of the television reality show. Valerie Cherish (played by Kudrow), a once-adored TV star with a hit show in the 90s and a People's Choice Award prominently displayed in her "awards room", is well-meaning and the image of rose-coloured-glasses. They convince her to film a reality show called The Comeback which will chronicle her triumphant return to TV (a painfully bad teen-sex-comedy, Room & Bored). For a generation raised on the reality-show-format, it's just so much fun to watch. Not unlike my other current obsession, The Life and Times of Vivienne Vyle, you see the ins-and-outs of producing television, a bubble-bursting experience to say the least.

As depressing and moving as it is hilarious, The Comeback is one of the greatest things I have ever seen on television. It's one of those finite experiences you never want to end. Like getting to the last page of a great book, you feel a strange desire to grieve the loss. You've never seen Lisa Kudrow this good, and 10 seconds of Mickey will be enough to have you lending your DVDs all over town, just for the pure pleasure of sharing something great. Put it on your list.

Sunday, February 3, 2008


Well, now you've got me thinking about food. And on Superbowl Sunday, what more appropriate food is there to talk about than chili? I've spent the last two years perfecting my recipe, and while I don't think I'm there, I think I made some serious advances in my last batch. I love anything you can cook in one pot, start to finish - Soups, stews, Chocolate Oatmeal Shadoobies (recipe to follow). And chili, of course, falls into this category.

Everyone has their chili preferences: What kind of beans and how many, chunky or smooth, to cumin or not to cumin - I could go on. Chili is as personal as your iTunes playlist. And, like music, it will warm you on a cold winter's day.

I always make a giant batch in my ridiculously oversized stock pot. It stores like a dream, so why not make enough to last a while? I start with 3lbs. of ground beef (though I'm considering a switch to the more heart-healthy ground turkey) and a large onion, chopped. Let those cook up. Don't drain the grease - Invest in an extra lean meat and leave the liquid for flavour. I stir in 4 cans of crushed tomatoes and a large can of tomato paste. Finely chop two jalapeno peppers, 3 or 4 cups of carrots, a few stalks of celery, a couple peppers for colour (green, red, yellow: your choice!) and your beans: I use one large can of red kidney and a can of white. Sometimes I buy a bean medley just for fun! Also, a can of chick peas.

It should be looking mighty delicious by now. Salt, pepper, cumin, chili powder, some red chili flakes if you like. I also tend to go a bit nutty when I'm cooking. I believe the following three ingredients rarely ruin anything: Allspice, nutmeg, and ginger. So, I add a bit of each of those. Grate fresh ginger root right into the pot. Oh, you should be tasting often to see how you're doing.

Now, we need to rewind a bit. In my most recent chili incarnation I added two new things I'd been thinking about for a while and was so successful, they are now, like beans, just a basic ingredient. Extra spicy chorizo sausage and chocolate. Trust me. I did not come up with this idea, people have been adding cocoa and coffee and beer and crazy things for centuries. But I do suggest you try. Leave the sausage a bit chunky and we're talking 1 to 2 cups of semi-sweet chocolate chips. Let 'em melt, stir 'em in. The chocolate adds a special something.

Let it all hang out for a couple hours.

I like to serve chili with grated cheese (cheddar and parmesan), sour cream, and a variety of bread options: crusty breads, flatbreads, bread sticks, crackers. Put a stack of bowls by the stove and let your guests help themselves.

Dessert for Breakfast

Breakfast, brunch, or a drunken stack of pancakes at Fran's: If it's supposed to be eaten in the morning, I am bound to love it. As a kid, my snack-of-choice was always toast with peanut butter or a bowl of cereal. To this day, I like nothing more than a heaping trough of Cheerios before bed.

It's no secret I love to share a meal with friends and family. The only thing I love more than eating something I've made is watching others eat something I've made. I pay close attention to how the food moves on their plate, how quickly they go for a second bite. I notice if they put salt on it and wonder where I went wrong. And I silently celebrate when they ask for more. Will I make this item again? Will I even save the leftovers?

This morning we had Jeff's family for brunch. A tried-tested-and-true recipe was critical - No surprises where family's involved, am I right? So Egg and Bacon Pie it was. I am a big fan of low-labour, high-impact food. With this you get the initial curiosity of "Egg and bacon what?" and anything involving pastry is a sure-fire-hit. But it's also outrageously simple, especially with a little help from my good friend Tenderflake. The next time you need a basic brunch meal, chock full of the apres-midi staples, try this instead of an omelette or a quiche.

Egg and Bacon Pie

1 frozen pie crust
8 eggs
8 strips of bacon
Various fresh herbs, chopped
Salt, pepper

1) Cook your bacon until it's crispy. Dice it up.

2) Transfer the pre-made pie shell out of the tinfoil plate. Come on! Presentation is everything, and while full disclosure might be nice, no one's got a gun to your head! Let them assume you made it! Sprinkle half the bacon and half the chopped herbs (I used sage, rosemary and thyme today, but have gone with dill and other stronger flavours in the past. The beauty of this recipe is that at it's simplest, its delicious, but you can really play with it - Add vegetables or cheese or a whole different flavour profile with some Worcestershire or hot sauces!)

3) Break your eggs into a small bowl, one at a time, and gently pour them atop the bacon and herbs, careful not to break the yolks. You want the yolks intact so they look nice when you cut into the pie. Don't panic if one breaks! a) There's nothing you can do to fix that, and b) It'll taste just fine! Evenly distribute the eggs all around.

4) Sprinkle the rest of your ingredients on top, and gently cover with your upper crust.

5) Bake at 350° for 35 or 40 minutes, or until the crust is nicely coloured. I tend to serve this with pan-fried mini white potatoes and toast, but a salad would be nice too. Enjoy!

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Something more than a friend, I can't quite explain her. A forever-friend, a piece of my heart. It feels like a privilege to know her the way I do. A secret. Like I went deep-sea-diving in a remote lagoon and found a mermaid who shares my taste in music. Magical and surprising, but familiar too. She so reminds me of my sister. The hair and the glasses. Tall and loving, safe.

If you're lucky enough to be in her heart, there's nothing you could ever say that she wouldn't take, hold, and hand back to you like a perfectly chosen gift. She's one of those rare instances where it feels like you created her.

Well, what I mean . . . When someone so perfectly suits and satisfies you, it's as if they sprung up out of you. Like, in your private daydreams and imaginations, you conjured up an image of utter comfort, and then that picture came alive and said, "Here I am. Isn't this what you ordered?" But in that there's a constant current of panic; a quiet concern that the simple rightness will disappear; a happy accident in reverse.

We clicked in that extraordinary, thrilling way, something like falling in love. And then one June night we shared secrets and booze in the darkened living room of dysfunctional British misfits, three walls around us. And that was that. The real thing, indeed.

Friday, February 1, 2008


I don't know much about her, but Adele is a newcomer from the UK. Inevitable and unnecessary comparisons to Amy Winehouse aside, she's neat. She has more of a Joss-Stone-soulfulness meets a Patsy-Cline-melancholy to her. A great, effortless voice.

I should note I found out about her via Perez Hilton. Say what you will about tabloid culture and its obvious negative impact on the world, his site constantly promotes little-known artists and has introduced me to a lot of very fine music - That's gotta count for something.

Look into Adele's album, 19.

Best Moment: "Best For Last" - Simple, great vocal, rollicky.

It's February

The Writer's Strike has really opened up our television schedule. Without new episodes of Bionic Woman* to keep us from having to talk to each other, my boyfriend and I have discovered so many new and exciting shows! Below is a list of hilarious you should consider tuning into.

1) Chelsea Lately - E! has won my heart with this one. She and Joel McHale are the legitimately funny go-to's that keep the network from sliding out of a limo with no panties on, a hot-mess shit storm of D-List reality shows, TMZ, and Ryan Seacrest. Chelsea is caustic and raunchy and has a Mexican LP as a sidekick. It just doesn't get any better.

2) The Life and Times of Vivienne Vyle - Jennifer Saunders (of AbFab fame) returns with this awkwardly hysterical show-within-a-show about an evil talkshow host. The pace of Arrested Development with the talent of British People, it's absolutely brilliant. Miranda Richardson will blow your mind.

3) Flipping Out - This show following an obsessive compulsive real estate prospector satisfies me on several levels: An outrageously attractive lead male, his hilarious Julia Louis-Dreyfus-style assistant, his housekeeper Zoila, and gorgeous 1950s-modern California mansions. Check your local listings this week for a marathon of all 6 episodes. It's so worth it.

4) Sarah Silverman - When all else fails, and your DVR burns out on Oprah repeats, check out The Sarah Silverman Program, or just YouTube the shit out of her. Nothing takes away the winter blahs like racials slurs and abortion jokes.

* I would never watch Bionic Woman.