Monday, September 28, 2009

taking a break from opining at the furniture

The Final Fantasy concert is back on. Apparently twas a seasonal flu and strep throat which felled Owen Pallett in Victoria, not H1N1, and the lad is soldiering on. Way to call upon those t-cells, Owen!

I am not yet permitted by my doctor to drive, so I am picking up my date and driving us to the train station instead. I figure I can get that far without killing anyone.

I did take the urban assault vehicle on a practice run yesterday and was a little discombobulated by the extreme 3D-ness that I was experiencing. I kept wanting to reach up and remove the 3D glasses from my face. But once I learned not to flinch and yell whoa! with each passing tree, I was good.

And at the risk of imparting far too much information, you will no doubt be pleased to know that I successfully showered today, without melting my eye or whatever dreadful thing would
have occurred had I gotten water into it. Sponge baths grow old very quickly indeed.

I am still not permitted to wear makeup, though, so shall be mingling with the lovely young concert-goers at my most spectacularly hideous. Dark bruises under the new eyeball and everything. But not bruised enough so that it is immediately evident that I am post-surgical, just enough so that I look like an old hag who doesn't give a shit anymore.

Perhaps I should go in disguise. Any suggestions?

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Unlikeliest of Heroes at Sage Theatre

Generally when someone tells you that a theatre company has made a bold departure from the sort of plays for which they are famous, they mean that the theatre troupe has become more edgy, more experimental in their production.  In the case of Sage Theatre's Heroes, however, quite the opposite is true.  

Of course when a theatre company is renowned for its brave approach to edgy and often uncomfortable material, there really is no place to go when you are trying to shake things up but to a more mainstream play.  Let me put it this way, Heroes (by Gerald Sibleyras, translated by Tom Stoppard) is pretty much the polar opposite of the first production I ever saw at Sage Theatre.  There is no nudity, there are no drugs, no violence; there is no naked emaciated addict lying at your feet injecting heroin into his penis.

Rather, there are three aged retired soldiers, comrades in a Veterans' Home in France, who spend their days on their terrace complaining about their lives, dreaming of women, and ultimately plotting their escape. An escape to Indochina, where Laotian women await them, or perhaps just an escape to the poplars that move so freely in the wind at the top of the hill beyond the cemetery.  

Henri - the proud son of the common people, Gustave - the agoraphobic aristocrat, and Phillipe - the simple amiable with a propensity to black out at inopportune moments, rely on one another for companionship, for maintaining what is left of their dignity, and, if the rumours of murderous nuns can be believed, for their very lives.  

Heroes is a simply staged production.  With all the drama arising from the interactions of three characters whiling away their days upon a terrace, the best moments occur in the verbal sparring that is an integral part of their days. I found the moments of physical comedy to be lacking in subtlety and a bit overdone, but the underlying affections that bind the men was well wrought and nice presented.  Grant Reddick (Henri) brings a particularly understated performance that works perfectly with the material.

Heroes is a gently humourous play. It has a sweetness and a naivety that is quite charming.  You won't be shaken to your core by raw emotions after watching this production, but you will leave with a wistful smile. 

Heroes is at Sage Theatre from September 24 - October 3, 2009

Friday, September 25, 2009

Montreal might eat its young, but Vancouver will break us down

Poor Owen! Not only does he possibly have H1N1, but he misses out on his once in a lifetime (well maybe twice) to play for the dream team audience of Al, Mel, and the Offspring Formerly Known as Resident. I just know his heart is broken.

Get well soon, Owen Pallett. And if you have to cancel Monday's Calgary concert, I totally understand. I'm not supposed to be driving yet anyway. Let's wait till we're both 100%, shall we?

To help with the healing, here's a pic spam from the Great Vancouver Odyssey 2.0.

- you are here -

- hotel balconies are about free wifi -

- and making weird faces -

- and sipping a glass or two -

- resident rooms, on the other hand, are for being squashy -

- and for showing off new rain boots -

- going in for the smooch on Mel -

- it's an ART shot, darling -

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Ow my eye, I'm not supposed to get pudding in it!

Lenny has always been one of my favourites. And now we share a mortal fear of pudding.

Recovery from cataract surgery is actually going exceedingly smoothly. Too smoothly, perhaps; I keep waiting for the other shoe to drop. But after spending the night decked out in my sassy pirate eye patch, trying hard not to roll over onto my side since that is strictly forbidden, I awoke to a clarity of vision that was almost startling. Of course I mean in the literal sense. Figuratively speaking, my vision is as muddy as ever.

Colours are so vibrant now that they are almost painful to look at. No longer does red look like purple which looks like brown which is pretty similar to blue. Every object has a crisply defined edge. It's like someone has removed that bug-splattered windshield. I keep wandering around the house exclaiming "look at the leaves on that tree over there, I just read the newspaper without reading glasses!" And a little less enthusiastically "I never realized I had that many wrinkles". I knew there had to be a downside.

It wasn't all grins and giggles, though. Aside from the ooginess of the surgery itself, which I will spare you, I had the Spousal Unit steal my patient-who-must-be-cared-for status from under my feet, when he had a rather dramatic little seizure episode during the post-operative home care discussion. A simple vasovagal response to ooginess was the anesthesiologist's diagnosis, but a plummeting pulse and cold clamminess meant that the SU got the gold star treatment. Heart monitor, bp cuff, saline drip, and everyone falling all over themselves to participate in a real medical emergency, livened up the morning for the eye clinc staff. Meanwhile I sat there half blind, hoping that someone would remember to administer the eye drops which were the cause of all the kerfuffle in the first place.

Some people just aren't happy unless they are the centre of attention.

After a 45 minute monitoring of the Spousal Unit's vital signs, during which time he and the anesthesiologist swapped fly fishing stories, we were released into the world. Mr Fainty and the Blind Girl, driving home.

Can't wait to see what happens when they slice up the other eyeball next week.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

I am indeed un chien Andalusia

I'm not sure if the wisest way to prepare for eye surgery is to wander around the house singing Pixies' Debaser, but I can't seem to exorcise it from the running playlist that is my brain. Maybe I can request they play it tomorrow while the surgeon slices up my eyeball and sucks out the cataracts. I wonder if he is a Pixies' fan?

There is no such thing as a great time for eye surgery of course, but it would appear that my timing particularly sucks. Not only have I had to turn down a media pass to attend Rifflandia (which looks incredibly awesome god damn it) in Victoria this weekend, but I have also had to decline an invitation to POP Montreal next weekend, as I get to do the whole eyeball slicing thing all over again on the other eye next week.

Since I am not allowed to bend over to clean the litter box for the next two weeks (proving that in every dark cloud there is indeed a lining of glistening silver), I doubt very much that I could wrangle permission to fly.

Should the cabin exp
erience a sudden change in air pressure, an oxygen mask will drop down from the ceiling in front of you. Use it to scoop up and store the eyeball that has suddenly popped out of your skull.

I am not a very good patient. I am abysmal at lying around healing, as is evidenced by having once written all my Christmas cards while waiting in recovery to be released from emergency day surgery. So I have a massive list of projects that I hope to accomplish over the next two weeks while I am disallowed from exercise and straining my eyes. I shall present the list to the surgeon tomorrow for approval. I sure hope computer usage gets the nod, because I have loads of pictures to show you, anecdotes from recent trips, and the usual lists and rants. That can't cause eye strain, surely?

Since I'm not entirely sure how much computer usage I will be permitted over the next couple of weeks, I leave you with my most recent BC Musician Magazine article, featuring a rock star encounter I had at this summer's Sled Island Music Festival. Nothing says I miss you like a little shameless self-promotion.

Wish me luck, kiddos!

Friday, September 18, 2009

for girlie drinks and parlour games

I think we may have stumbled onto the theme for this weekend's meeting of the Marthas, in this pack of cocktail napkins that I found.

Against my better judgment, seeing as I just barely survived a trip through that hostile environment fairly recently, we are heading back into the mountains, where we will be ensconced in a rustic cabin with our red wine and art supplies. There is talk of going into the town of Banff at some point, and of course, if
that's what the Marthas want to do, I will have their backs, but as far as I am concerned, we can just spread our paints and scissors and colour chips and glue all over the floor and have ourselves a Jackson Pollack weekend.

I shall return on Sunday evening, no doubt bearing stories, photographic evidence of other people's debaser moments, some mountain art, and a new bruise or two.

Have a wonderful weekend, my darlings. I will have all manner of goodies for you next week, to show you how utterly wretched I have been without you. Pinky swear.

Tell me about your weekend!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

fear of frying

It was supposed to be a nice send-off for the Resident Offspring, making her favourite meal for her on her last night at home before we banished her to University.

"Butter chicken", she said. So butter chicken it would be. It was an easy enough meal for me to prepare, as I ran madly about in my usual fashion, trying to ensure that every last detail was anticipated and dealt with.

But perhaps there were still a few too many details left to fret over, as the pan with the oil in it can attest, sitting as it did on the hot element for far longer than it was accustomed to doing.
Enough time for that oil to get good and hot, angry hot for being ignored for so long. So that when I finally noticed the pan smoking on the element, I did what any time-deprived, list-obsessed person would do - I dumped the chicken pieces right into the overheated pan.

The resulting explosion, although painful, seemed to be dampened with a lengthy dose of cold running water, but when the welts started appearing on my forearm, I realised that this was going to leave a mark. Turns out is also left a psychologist scar, as I could sense people easing away from me in public when they noticed what appeared to be a nasty skin disease on my forearm. Contagious, no doubt.

Fast forward two weeks later, to the day. The Spousal Unit is preparing for a fishing trip with a buddy, a regular event at which he and said fishing buddy always eat exactly the same meals on exactly the same days of the trip. This, you must remember, is a man who likes to choose what he will order at a restaurant two weeks before going out. Seriously.

Except this time. For the first time in recorded history, the Spousal Unit has decided that the men folk would like something different on this fishing expedition. The meal of choice? Butter chicken.

You will be relieved to know that I survived making that butter chicken, but I do need a drink now.

What scares you in your kitchen?

Sunday, September 13, 2009

I know you might roll your eyes at this, but I'm so glad that you exist

While it's no secret that I consider myself to be president of the Sean Wraight fan club (treasurer at the very least), I've been coming to the realization lately that this may very well be the most popular organization since the Rick Astley Appreciation Society. Mention Sean's name in certain circles and doors open; they let you into the inner sanctum and sometimes they even give you the "friend of Sean" discount.

So the solemnness of our recent funeral trip to the east was tempered with the excitement of knowing that I would finally get to meet my fabulous friend, the one with the razor sharp wit, the exquisite taste in music, and tendency to spoil me with incredible gifts. It turns out that I had just seen the tip of the iceberg of fabulousness that was the blog friend I thought I already knew.

It's one thing to offer a hand to someone you've never even met when they come to town under unfortunate circumstances; I think we would all find it within ourselves to do that. It's
quite another thing to not only make yourself completely at someone's disposal, but then to drag your entire family into the equation. It's that kind of shit that qualifies you for sainthood, isn't it? At the very least some kind of ninja humanitarian award.

So thank you, my dear friend. Although I can't answer the FRO's question why are two blind people in a car so much funnier than just one, I have to tell you that I have never had so much fun getting lost in a parking lot before. Thank you for welcoming us into your home, for the sheer insanity of all the goodies you bestowed upon us, for introducing us to the kitty who looks like a footstool, and for lending us your camera (complete with extra batteries) when we foolishly left ours at home.

It meant a great deal that you would take time from your vacation to pay your respects at the visitation, even if you had to take drugs to get there, and again at the funeral. I am very relieved that the scary barking priest did not discover that you don't understand any Polish and demand you return the host. Which he might well have done if he knew the truth behind the car alarm incident. Parking lots factored large into the picture, didn't they?

We really came to rely on your generosity, my friend, to the extent that we are still saying to each other just phone Sean, I'm sure he'll bring it right over.

And how do I begin to express my amazement at your incredible family, who think nothing of being met at the train station after a grueling trip home, only to be told that they are not in fact going back to their home as they expect, but rather they are being whisked off to a restaurant to eat a meal with some people they have never met? The fact that they did so with such grace and goodwill, even taking this motley bunch of strangers out for ice cream afterward and then entertaining us at home until all hours, makes me suspect that there is actually a queue beginning to form for that ninja award.

Sean, you and your extraordinary family took a sombre occasion and turned it into something utterly sublime. You know that the next time we meet we will be falling all over ourselves to return the hospitality. Don't make us wait too long, okay?

Thursday, September 10, 2009

shocking tales from the graveside

As generally happens at funerals, particularly that of a parent, little-known stories emerge over the sharing of dusty photo albums. That was certainly true last week, when we sorted through the photos and various sundry tucked away at the back of closets at my mother-in-law's apartment.

There was the usual recitation of familiar family tales, of her quirky ways and her fiery spirit, her inability to pronounce the names Darrell or Jane, her fear of purring cats, her bewilderment at microwaves and VCRs. And there was the surfacing of new and surprising information - the photo of her on a motorcycle, another of her in a bikini on a beach in Sweden.

But my favourite moment, which is destined to become a family classic, was the story of how she recently approached her oldest granddaughter to score her some dope. Evidently she had been studying up on alternative medicine. The stern admonition you can't get Babcha high at Christmas is sure to live on in this family.

There were other shocking discoveries that came to light in some old photographs, some scandals that hit a little closer to home.

Like the fact that I still had 80's hair in 1991.

Or that the Spousal Unit looked like he smuggled people across the border for a living.

Still to come in the Ontario stories, a recounting of the most fabulously spectacular blogger meetup in human history. Don't miss it.

As I take my leave, I would like to point out that there is a shiny new online magazine in existence, one that promises a punchy and fresh look at music, art, culture and staying fabulous in the heart of big oil town. Please check out New Canadian Modern, where I have recently become a contributor.

You can read my interview with Pat Flegel from the incredible Polaris-listed Calgary-based band WOMEN, and loads of other good stuff.

/shameless self promotion

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

you may have my precious bones on my return

Everything is different.

I was okay when the Offspring formerly known as Resident strongly hinted that it was time for her hovering parents to leave. I was fine riding shotgun on the 12 hour trip back home; the empty back seat did not even loom that large. But oh, walking in the front door, I realised just how utterly my world had been turned upside down.

The cat, famous for her silent meows and for her superior attitude toward the (former) Resident Offspring, was shell-shocked, prowling from room to room, calling out for the missing human. But I was tired, and although our technical difficulties with skyping the FRO were disappointing, they were issues I could put off till today. Doing laundry was a mistake, at least stripping the bedding in the former RO's room was. I feel badly for the Spousal Unit. Not only is he also dealing with missing his kid, he now also has to deal with a weepy wife.

I expect that the basement torture chamber will see a good deal of action over the next while, as I plan to log quite a few miles on the elliptical to help ward off those blues. The house is probably going to be cleaner than it has been in years as well. So hey, if you want to visit, feel free to simply drop by. No need to call first. You know I will be overjoyed to see you. I will likely jump on you and smother you with hugs and big noisy cheek kisses. I may very well even invite you to eat off my immaculate kitchen floor.

Over the next few days, I'll be reminiscing about some of the adventures we had in both London last weekend and Vancouver this weekend. There were extraordinary blogger meetups that were utterly sublime, there were scandalous tales surfacing at my mother-in-law's funeral, there was a suitcase full of humiliating family photos that came home with us, and there was no shortage in either city of bizarre moments that left me scratching my head.

Stay tuned. The zombie is back with photos and a few lies.

Friday, September 04, 2009

mountains are all about trying to murder you on the road

I don't know what anybody else does when they find themselves trapped on the summit of the Rockies when some sort of freak weather pattern blows through, but as far as I am concerned when the winds start to buffet your vehicle about and the trees start to crash down onto the highway in front of you, you might as well keep driving.  At least then you have some chance of driving out of the weather system before something kills you.

Is it any wonder that I don't like being in the mountains?

 (Although I have to admit that the dozen or so mountain goats we saw chilling in a group, in a narrow outcrop of the most treacherous strip of road ever to be chiseled out of the rock, were pretty cool.)  

We survived the 15 or so uprooted trees that were strewn across the highway between the Roger's Pass and Revelstoke, hereafter to be referred to as the most terrifying half hour of my life, and made it as far as Abbotsford, a mere sixty kms away from our destination, before our travels came screeching to an abrupt halt.  

What an errant wind and rainstorm could not do, a single vehicle rollover could.  

But here's the amazing part.  If this had happened in Calgary, this closing of a major highway during rush hour, trapping hundreds of cars immobile on their commute home, people would have been seriously pissed off.  There would have been major horn honking, dozens of vehicles making u-turns in the ditch in an effort to find a faster route, and lots of really pissed-off commuters, none of whom would have ventured out of the confines of their urban assault vehicles.  Except perhaps to brandish a handgun.

In Abbotsford, on the outskirts of Vancouver, the mindset was somewhat different.  Within minutes of the highway being closed, the first of the commuters tumbled out of their cars, stretching and strolling about the nearby ditch.  Soon other commuters exited their vehicles and began to congregate in loose groups, exchanging pleasantries and information about what they had heard for the reason that no wheels were turning on this major highway.  

The barefooted smoking guy ran back and forth between cars, transporting cigarettes and quite possibly dope, the young kids in the Honda stretched out on the hood to await further movement, and the woman who has lost her voice stopped by our truck to say hi and to point out the spectacle of the white truck who had gotten hung up trying to pull a u-turn in the uneven ditch.  

Nobody got impatient, nobody threatened to shoot anybody.  Everybody just chilled.

I got out to retrieve some stuff from the back of the truck and wandered over to ask the Honda loungers if they had any idea how far back we were from the collision which had ground everything to a halt.  If bicycle guy hadn't pulled up at that particular moment to report that he had just been up to the scene and that Medivac had transported the collision victim to hospital and that the road was about to open, I am pretty sure that they would have offered to share their joint with me.

Welcome to British Columbia.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

there are powerlines in our bloodlines

Ellen Page was playing cards at the next table.  She looked happy enough at first, but I noticed her crying as her friend went through the security gates.

I too was matter of fact, downright cheery even, all through the visitations and the funeral business and even while sorting through the decades of photographic memories afterward in the dusty apartment.  It wasn't until the departures lounge that I became maudlin, surreptitiously wiping away the tears to avoid showing any weakness with those public displays.  

Damned allergies. They made it hard to deal gracefully with the waves of ... oh I don't even know what it was ... loss obviously, nostalgia certainly for a life that I loved in a former hometown that fit me so perfectly, the sound of the door slowly closing on a page in my life, already missing my dear friend just recently met, and now fearing the overwhelming sense of loss that will be left in the void that the next trip will bring. Anticipatory sorrow is counterproductive and soul-destroying, but I don't know how to avoid it.

Having laid to rest the last parent that the Spousal Unit and I had, we are setting forth on a bittersweet adventure in the morning, bringing our only offspring to university, where she will be handed over to strangers and to her own well of self-reliance.

I know she will shine and I know this is the right thing to do, but the nest will seem unbearably empty.  At least until Thanksgiving.   

Next week I will share some highlights from both trips. The notable moments and the cast of characters I encountered in London will give me a perma-grin for the rest of my natural life.  Seriously.  Who knows what splendours Vancouver will bring.