Sunday, January 28, 2007

It is exhausting being a lady who lunches

- painting by Beryl Cook -
Mind you, the real ladies who lunch likely do not have to take the crowded C-train home after their day spent lunching, book store browsing, and museum-shlepping, so they don't have to shuffle their sore feet while clutching onto a ceiling strap for dear life, while some kid with white ear-buds keeps lurching into them. But it was still so worth it.

Eva had last week off school (those kids never go to school!), so we decided on the days I was home from work we would do some fun shit.

On Wednesday, we decided to see the exhibit on Egyptian and Greco-Roman art at the museum. That place is pretty much dead midweek. You can take all the photos you like and make immature jokes about sarcophagi to your heart's delight.

I found this great book at McNally-Robinson, which I sent to Bruno. I figured if he's just going to lounging around the hospital, he might as well be doing something productive, like learning how to protect his family from a zombie invasion. It's got chapters on weaponry and hand-to-hand combat techniques, and even demonstrates how to fortify your home. Critical information.

We met the most charming panhandler to whom we gave a few bucks for tap-dancing lessons, and he gave us a big smile and a wave when we saw him again a couple of hours later, passing on the other side of the street. I find that most of the folks whom I have met downtown, who ask for change, generally have the most compelling stories to tell and are often really helpful. I think it's a bit of give and take - they tell you the idiosyncracies of that parking ticket machine, you give them a few bucks. Karma works it all out in the end.

I reserve the right to avoid obviously impaired panhandlers, but I always give some money to buskers, no matter what they sound like. You never know when the next Chad VanGaalen will come along.

The highlight of the day was sitting outside on a bench on Stephen Avenue, drinking a coffee. At the end of January. In Calgary. With no mitts on.

If you have been avoiding seeing A Scanner Darkly because Keanu Reeves is in it, fear not. It's really good! And the character that he plays is very confused, which is perfect for him. Robert Downie Jr is sooooo good in this film! And the animation makes it feel like you are watching a graphic novel come to life. It's the perfect treatment for this quite faithful adaptation of the Philip K Dick novel.

Oddly enough, Primal Scream's "A Skanner Darkly" mp3 was not used in this film. But Thom Yorke's "Black Swan" mp3 was, which is even better.


Deb said...

I love your take on the panhandlers and buskers. Actually I just deleted a post on that because it was too long (surprise!) but I try and shoot the shit a minute too. And "donate" to the tap dance fund.

Sounds like you're having some fun.

And that book you sent to Bruno sounds like a staple for sure.

Barbara Bruederlin said...

I fully support the idea of busking, Deb; it's the way that quite a few musicians (especially pre-myspace)get exposure. Gotta support the arts! As for panhandlers, they are just people trying to get by. They've got more problems than most people and they need a little kindness.

Doesn't that book sound boffo? I wish I had time to read it first.

Allison said...

I chuckled so many times reading this post. The white ear-bud comment, the Zombie invasion book...then I turned bitter at the thought of no mitts on while drinking outside. But, its usually very cold there, so you all deserve a break.

I'm glad to hear A Scanner Darkly is good. I may have to rent it next weekend. This weekend we also rented the British Office series, which I've already seen, but you know, can't go wrong.

I love going to museums mid-week too, I need my personal space while looking at art. And enough earshot to make snide remarks to friends :)

Anonymous said...

Oh my gosh the Zombie book! As soon as I read the part about protecting his family from Zombies I knew the book. I have a student that is in love with that book and quotes sections of it off by heart. He also really liked Hitler's Scientists. Just an idea if you need to expand your book collection!

Anonymous said...

the dilemma of panhandling. Many are people that are not employable and will never fit into what we consider normal society, and they certianly need a hand up. And the gov't does not provide for them. However, there are many that choose to be panhand;ers because they don't want to live within mom and dads "rules" at home. Do 20 year old kids that leave home to go live on the streets of Victoria deserve to be given money becuase they ask for it? I don't think so, but I've been told i'm wrong before. Victoria has a big problem (Tocatta, please weigh in and correct me if I'm wrong). Shop owners lose customers because they have agressive panhandlers sitting outside their front door bothering everyone that walks by. MAny people are afraid of pnahandlers, even if they have no reason to be. Buskers are different, they are putting some effort ito earning some money. If I like what a busker is doing I will give some money, usually fairly generously, however I don't give to every busker on the street just because they are there. Once we were sitting along the Mississippi River near the French Quarter in New Orleans listening to an old white haired black guy play the was amazing and i would have loved to take a picture of him...we enjoyed it and gave $20. Well another guy saw this and came over and said can I sing you a song for $5, I'm really good and a Vietnam veteran. I said sure why not. He sang (badly) 2 lines and held out his hand, I rolled my eyes and game him $5, then he had the nerve to say...could you make it $10. We politely said no thank you and left..I guess all I'm saying is that there are limits

Anonymous said...

Your story about the panhandler reminds me of a story my college friend Ray told me. A panhandler approached his dad, a very no-nonsense blue collar guy (a garbage man). The panhandler asked for some specific amount-- $1.38 or something (this was over twenty years ago, so adjust for inflation) for a bottle of a specific "bum" wine. Ray's dad laughed and told him he appreciated his honesty and gave him the money.

I always offer to buy a meal. I've been taken up on this a few times. But when they're standing in front of a liquor store, claiming to need money for food, it's not too convincing. And I'm with you on the buskers. I almost always donate.

Anonymous said...

last night in a starbucks we saw a known panhandler wearing really nice clothes, and listening to a MP3 player phone whilst drinking a 5.00 coffee.....this is becoming very typical...ppl just panhandle for $ when they arent homeless at all...which means ive all but stopped giving anything to anyone aside from the least they play a damn instrument...

WolfHeart RavenHorse said...

Sounds like a glorious week! My kid was off school too...and you are right, they never go to school! I seem to remember being there a lot when I was a kid!!! Geeez!

Now, for some interesting info...did you know that Eva was the most popular girls name last year???? You were just ahead of your time weren't you!



Barbara Bruederlin said...

You simply cannot go wrong with the Office, Allison, UK or USA, it matters not. It's all so fine. I think you'd like A Scanner Darkly; the animation alone is worth seeing.

Hitler's Scientists? That sounds disturbingly compelling, Toccata. So are you now a zombie hand-to-hand combat expert, compliments of your student?

There certainly are limits, Kelly, but I still believe in giving to each and every busker. That Vet you gave $5 to was not a busker, he was an opportunist. A real busker will be out there playing regardless and not just when he sees that someone else is getting money.
Regarding panhandlers, it's pretty easy to tell who are affluent kids who are just slumming and who are people with real issues. But I could be wrong.

Yeah, the liquor store panhandling is an example of poor public relations, Johnny Yen. A lot of people are a lot more savvy about optics.
But buskers, they have certainly earned it imo.

Maybe I should take up panhandling, Jen, sounds like a boffo way to get some good coffee. He could have at least played the spoons or something.

Bev, glad you made it back home (even if you aren't)!
Damn it! Those damn name copy-catters! I hate doing the popular thing.

Anonymous said...

Barb, how about a pet zombie for Bruno? Aren't they the latest craze or is that just a movie? On a different note,Joni Mitchell has just been inducted into the Canadian Songwriters' Hall Of Fame.I still have a girl crush on her stemming back to my university days. You can hear and see her perform at A very unique soul. "Blue " still ranks in my top five-a masterpiece in my mind.

Anonymous said...

Of all the fun you had, I'm most jealous you didn't have to wear mits. I'm freezing right now.

(Found you via JustACoolCat. He said blogs like yours and mine ought to be read more, so here I am, reading more.)

Anonymous said...

The Zombie book sounds fun. I read the "Know Your Enemy" part. The sight section made me think of 28 Days Later- as much as I LOVE that movie, I always have problems with the, Rage Infected, not attacking one another.

Great mp3s too by the way. Though I opened up the Thom Yorke song while my kids were around. Not exactly Raffian lyrics, eh? Oh well, I quickly shut it off and I'm enjoying it now that they're gone to bed.

Barbara Bruederlin said...

Berni - Bruno already has a pet zombie, his little sister!
Good for Joni! She certainly deserves it! And I agree that Blue is an amazing album.

Hi Justrun, welcome! Our mitten-less days are about done here, I'm afraid, but it was fun while it lasted.
That JustACoolCat knows quality when he sees it, doesn't he? Well, I shall come to visit you as well!

Oooo good plot hole spotting, John! Why DIDN'T they attack each other? Maybe it was sort of pheromonal, and they excreted an anti-rage hormone that blocked the rage receptors or something. I dunno. But I do love that movie too, very much.
I'm glad you liked the mp3s, but no, Thom Yorke would rip Raffi's throat out, I think - haha! I guess when you have a teenager it's fine to sing along together to Peaches, but not when you've got wee ones.

Anonymous said...

I was just reading justrun's blog on SAD,but can't seem to publish my comments. I need a Grade 2 Kid here! Anyway, there is an article in Jan. 13 Globe and Mail on a cafe that serves a dose of sunlight and a hearty buffet breakfast to combat this winter depression. In Stockholm, though! We need one here in Manitoba.Try
Good luck, justrun

Barbara Bruederlin said...

Or, we could take a trip to Stockholm, Berni. hmm? They've got an IKEA!

phlegmfatale said...

I LOVE buskers - they are so much fun, and like you, I'll always drop them a little something. Thanks, I'll see a scanner darkly.
LOVE LOVE LOVE the shit out of Black Swans - superb song.

Actually, the bass/rhythm track is remarkably like "Spirit" by Dead Can Dance, albeit with a slight twist. Great stuff.

Barbara Bruederlin said...

Dead Can Dance - I don't know them, PF, but shall certainly check into them, as I love the rhythm on Black Swan - on the entire Eraser album actually. Thanks for the tip.