Archive for April, 2008

Honestly

One upside to the TTC strike has been that I’ve been able to appear in public wearing a Canadiens jersey for two consecutive days and still not be among the city’s top 9,000 most hated people.

This is not enough to compensate for the many downsides to the TTC strike, but the random burst of applause I got while walking down Davisville earlier was nice. It almost took the sting out of last night’s game.

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Fail

This is precious. And in the interest of balance, so is this.

Help!

It occurred to me earlier that, in one month’s time, I will be on a train from Zurich to Vienna. This, of course, will come immediately after being on a train from Paris to Zurich. The entire Paris-Vienna trek will take approximately 14 hours, and all but about 45 minutes of that period will be spent on one train or another. Then there are the seven-hour flights to and from London and the two-hour train rides to and from London.

There are only so many postcards a girl can write out (and when it comes to the flight to London, that number is zero), and so I need reading material. This is where you come in!

Jonathan and I roam through the Indigo at the Eaton Centre — and sometimes the nearby World’s Biggest Bookstore — on a weekly basis, so I have some idea of the current literary climate. The operative word in that last sentence is “some.”

The other thing, of course, is that unless the author’s name begins with “Agatha” and ends with “Christie,” I do not typically read fiction. I read history, political science, biographies, memoirs, social and cultural commentary, literary journalism, literary travel, career guides and novels wherein elderly women or eccentric Belgians go around solving murders, usually those of upper-class Brits. (Anna Karenina and The Master and Margarita are sitting, unread, on my bookshelf. But only because I feel obliged to read the classics despite just not being into fiction.)

As such, I need suggestions. What have you read?

I miss the sun: An essay

As I left Second Cup — peach Italian soda in hand — and walked out into the unbearably gorgeous April evening, I could have been thinking any number of happy things. Instead, I found myself silently expressing relief that my iPod does not currently contain any music by the Polyphonic Spree.

My one and only first-hand experience with the band in question came just over four years ago, when I was 18 and David Bowie was in town. My friend Raven and I somehow miraculously ended up with tickets; the opening act was something called the Polyphonic Spree. Neither of us had heard of them and had just gotten back to our seats after using the washroom and perusing the horribly overpriced merchandise (I bought a T-shirt anyway) in time to catch all but the first few minutes of their act. I had read something on the internet about the Polyphonic Spree being — ahem — interesting, with an interesting dance to match.

The band consisted of roughly 30 members, including a choir made up of nine or 10 women, and instrumentalists ranging from a drummer to a dude with a French horn. By the time we got back to our seats, these 30 people were on stage, enthusiastically dancing around to their own music. And every single one of their songs seemed to be about the sun.

This would have been jarring enough on its own, but each and every member of the Polyphonic Spree was clad in an ankle-length white robe.

It was all very cult-like. While talking about them during his own set, even David Bowie joked that they were making Kool-Aid backstage. The entire experience was bizarre.

And yet one or two of their songs grew on me. Of course, it was somewhat more normal to listen to shiny, happy songs about the sun when I was young and innocent — and by “young and innocent,” I mean “not working nights.”

The night shifts started in November. I’ve been told by those with more experience that they hardly qualify as night shifts because they aren’t overnight shifts. Those people didn’t start this kind of night shift in the winter. It was dark by dinnertime. The only time I saw the sun all day, most days, was as I walked from the house to the subway and from the subway to work. My brain eventually got used to the schedule and I started to treat 11 p.m. as the new 6 p.m.; in other words, I’d get home, eat dinner and vegetate for a few hours before finally going to bed at 2 or 3 a.m.

Most everyone I know started telling me I needed to start taking Vitamin D. And I did. Sporadically. I would rarely wake up before 11 a.m., or even noon, because I needed a normal amount of sleep. And I would spend the first few hours after I woke doing “morning” things — tea, breakfast, washing and otherwise getting ready for work. I was late for a few lunches with Jonathan because my body refused to allow itself to be pried out of bed. Apparently sleep is not enough — the old girl wants adequate sleep. Well lah-dee-dah.

It was December, and my brain was trying to convince me that it was already starting to get dark as I arrived for work, when I caved and asked for a reprieve from the night shift. I got a month off, not because I’d asked for a reprieve but because there was no need for me to fill in on the night shift for that month. And during that month I was down to two, maybe three shifts per week on somewhat more manageable schedules.

My inner clock was not impressed. Yes, I could now hypothetically get to bed before midnight. But my brain was not accustomed to such a thing, and I rarely did. Other than that, it was fabulous. I got to the gym at least twice every week. I saw people.

Then came February, and I was back on nights again. This time, however, was compounded by the winter that just wouldn’t die. I would exit the building and walk into the wind, more recently wondering exactly when the “out like a lamb” was going to kick in.

I met Jonathan for lunch yesterday and we wandered around the Eaton Centre after eating, as we usually do.
Yesterday, however, we ended up outside in Trinity Square, sitting on the steps facing an office building.

“I know we’re not looking at much,” he said. It didn’t matter. The sun was in my eyes. It was glorious. But glorious as though that was, I still had to go to work. I walked up the street to Chapters on my break and passed no fewer than three jam-packed patios on the way. I had to walk past them again on my way back.

I was bitter.

I usually take the subway from St. Andrew or Union after work, but walked up to Queen on Monday night because the weather was so nice. I also wanted to have something of a one-woman street party and not let those lucky enough to be in Montreal have all the fun. (I refrained from having a one-woman riot.) As I got home I realized that my “enjoying the weather” has now been expanded to include the walk from the subway to the house, as it was still a gorgeous 15 degrees at 11:30 p.m. It’s cloudy today, but I’ll deal.

I can only be a vampire for so long.

The cult of the amateur

Twenty-two (!!) pages into The Cult of the Amateur: How Today’s Internet is Killing Our Culture, I feel the need to make the following points:

  • Yes, there are stupid, incoherent and useless videos on YouTube. But it also provides us opportunities mere text cannot, such as the opportunity to effectively demonstrate just how badly executed last week’s Ottawa Senators’ pre-game ceremony was.
  • I am rarely mistaken for an optimist, so when I say I believe that the average web user is smart enough to separate the user-generated wheat from the user-generated chaff, there is probably something to it. In other words, I’ve never met a person who believed a blog was a completely balanced, even-handed source of original content and couldn’t take things with a grain of salt.
  • I blog for myself. I am not fishing for hits, acclaim or a book deal. I don’t believe my life is interesting enough to warrant documentation for an audience. (If that were the case, I would have a book deal.) But it’s cathartic and fun, and I dare anyone to prove that it’s hurting anyone.

According to the Publisher’s Weekly review posted on the Amazon page, there’s much to look forward to:

In its last third, the book runs off the rails completely, blaming Web 2.0 for online poker, child pornography, identity theft and betraying “Judeo-Christian ethics.”

I see. An interesting read so far nonetheless.

Round two

Well, thank goodness for that.

I, like most other Habs fans, am hoping they face the Flyers in the second round. Incidentally, that means we all have to hope Cristobal Huet loses tomorrow.

In unrelated news, I realized today that Stamkos was born in 1990. And even though that’s only five years after I was born, it makes me feel old.

Someday I won’t blog about hockey. Really.

Sigh

I, uh… well.

God, I hope they win on Monday.