Top ten of 2007

Very excited - I just received Derek's Top Ten mixed CD for 2007 and my iPod is already weeping with joy.

Whereas last year, I already owned three of the tunes he selected for 2006, this year I already own five of the tracks listed. This, as my friend suggests, means that either (a) yes, I am getting cooler or (b) he's getting stodgier.

I think we all know what the answer is to that one.

Of the 19 tracks he selected for 2007 (the term "top ten" is used loosely), here are a few of the artists that are new to me and that I am looking forward to discovering:
Have I listed any of your favourites? Let me know what I'm in for...


Love and anatomy

Yesterday morning in yoga class, we did namaskar parsvakonasana. It's a pose that requires you to put your hands into prayer position as you twist over your bended knee. One of the objectives is to try and place your hands in the middle of your chest. Your thumbs, ideally, should brush against your sternum.

While in the pose, I got to thinking...

Our bodies are fairly symmetrical organisms. There are even studies that say facial symmetry is an indicator of beauty and worthiness for mating. Except for some organs and a few metres worth of intestines, our bodies are chock full of pairs. Do the inventory - there are lots of twos in you and all of them are placed an equal-ish distance apart. Eyes. Arms. Lungs. Kidneys. Feet...

In fact, if someone were to cut your brain in half, there would be two equal parts making a mirror image of each other on the table.

But then there's the heart, the seat of our emotional selves. It's funny-shaped. Asymmetrical. Located left of centre. It cannot be cut into two equal halves. It has no twin on the other side of the chest. 

Is it any wonder then, that love is such a hard thing to find/manage/keep/end? Maybe our anatomy is telling us that Plato's theory of the soulmate was right all along.

We try to remedy the situation by drawing symmetrical hearts instead, but our real hearts remain ineffably off-centre - as frequently do our affections. But I don't think we have reason to despair over our awkward hearts. As funny-shaped as they may be, they are made of strong, solid muscles that keep every square inch of your body moving forward. So much power in such a small thing.

Is it any wonder then, that love is such an intense emotion?

P.S. En passant, I have now been at the studio long enough to notice that the Saturday morning crowd is decidedly more Westmount than the rest-of-the-week crowd. Let it be said - there are some very fancy handbags out there.


Read it! See it! Now!

Two of the funniest - and hottest - women on TV are currently on the cover of Vanity Fair. Sarah Silverman and my sosie Tina Fey.

In the issue, Sandra Bernhard, Susie Essman, TFey, Jenna Fischer, Chelsea Handler, Leslie Mann, Amy Poehler, Maya Rudolph, Amy Sedaris, Sarah Silverman, Wanda Sykes, Kristen Wiig defend the inherent funny-ness of women.

You must understand, these women are my idols. Watch the Girls Behaving Badly video that accompanies the article and you'll understand why.

Girls kick ass!


I love a man who plays the trombone

Being a groupie of Monsieur Fortier's, I scrambled through the ice - arm in arm with Aurélia - to the Lion d'Or tonight to see him perform as part of Cabaret libre influence, a monthly-ish showcase for emerging writers-composers-performers in Québec. 

Highlights: Luc de Larochelliere being given two hours to write a deep little ditty about going to the bathroom. Thinking I spotted the guy from Tricot Machine hovering in the back. Viviane Audet's jewel-green top and her duet with Juan Sebastian Larobina. Stupendous Cuban-flavoured trumpet solo by Benoit Paradis (see below).

My new favourite crush (don't try to keep up with them):
He scats. He wah-wahs. He plays brass. He doesn't comb his hair. He's Benoît Paradis! His influences include: Georges Brassens, Andy Kaufman, Chaplin, jazz, Gainsbourg, and the noise from the refrigerator. I cannot describe his sound - so just visit his MySpace page and listen to Le trombone, to start with. I couldn't decide what I wanted to do first... thank him for his perfectly quirky performance or make him a sandwich and a glass of warm milk.

PS. Going out on a Wednesday night. I'm obviously in the Plateau now...


Toronto the Great, Part II

Oh, no! Even the ROM is in on it -- "One of the world's great museums".

All the Montréal Museum of Fine Arts can muster is: "Conserving art for all to share".

Does Montréal have a self-esteem problem? I'm starting to worry...


Toronto the Great

As much fun as it is to watch Torontonians get a little snippy when any slight is whispered against their home town, I don't much care to add fuel to the fire (unless we're talking hockey, ovvio).

I have one friend still living in Toronto, and when I visited to meet her future husband, he kept baiting me. Albeitly playfully, but baiting nonetheless.

"So what does that mean? Are you saying that people in Toronto move too fast? That they don't stop to smell the flowers like your Montrealers?"

"Em, no, I just meant that one car was going super fast. I think it may even have a Quebec plate."

But then today, I had to research some tourist attractions in the TDot, and I nearly peed myself laughing.

Here's a sampling of what I found. Keep track of the superlatives if you can:
  • CN TowerDefining the Toronto skyline, the CN Tower is Canada’s most recognizable and celebrated icon. At a height of 553.33m (1,815 ft., 5 inches), it is the World’s Tallest Building, a Wonder of the Modern World, an important telecommunications hub, the centre of tourism in Toronto and a first class dining and event centre.
  • Rogers Centre: Rogers Centre is recognized as one of the world's premiere entertainment centres, which since its spectacular opening on June 3, 1989, has achieved the highest honours in the stadium entertainment industry. -- A unique feature of the Rogers Centre is its Videoboard, one of the world's largest, measuring 110 feet wide by 33 feet high - bringing everyone even closer to the action.
  • Canada's WonderlandCanada's Wonderland is Canada's premier theme park and features over 200 attractions, more than 65 thrilling rides, North America's greatest variety of roller coasters, and Splash Works, a 20-acre water park. --  Canada's Wonderland opens for the 2008 season with the biggest, tallest and fastest rollercoaster in Canada - BEHEMOTH!
My question is: How is the rest of the world managing to summon up any tourism considering that the biggest, best, most amazazing attractions in Canada and the world, are in Toronto? Has Toronto not heard of the Burj Dubai?

Does Toronto have anything that's mediocre? Other than the Leafs? (you knew that was coming)

Although I find the gushing adjectives and superlative to be nauseous au bout, you have to give credit to the people responsible for Toronto tourism. They've started a campaign using an American-style marketing onslaught. and it may just be working. After all, if you always hear great things about City X or Movie Y, aren't you apt to go and see it, if only to satisfy your curiosity?

Laugh all your want, but who's boasting a better tourist industry right now? (I honestly don't know and am currently too feverish to reply - will Google tomorrow when I'm not shivering)

This kind of campaign works for Toronto. It would never work for Montréal. So what I want to hear from you is, what's so special about Mtl that we could never (with a straight face) sell ourselves so flagrantly?

And, if some Mtl attractions have started to get mouthy like this, tell me where to find their sites.

PS. This has nothing to do with work, or any of our clients. This is simple curiosity from someone who loves her city and wants to understand it a little better. For true. 


People who cannot entertain themselves

There are a few people in my acquaintance that are forever proclaiming their boredom - their fingers constantly humming over a keyboard or the keypad in search of distraction of any kind.

The instant their mind is not being fed something fun or entertaining by the TV or the computer or their cell phones, they start sighing and harrumphing.

"I don't like wasting time doing nothing!" they sigh down the telephone line. "Are you free right now?"

These are some of the same people who went pale with shock when I announced that I would not be installing cable or satellite TV in Casa Palanca.*

Previously, I would turn on the TV as soon as I returned home. Not necessarily because there was something on. I just liked having the buzz in the background. Made me feel like there were more of us at home. 

Barring the occasional DVD, the TV is mostly silenced in my house. Sometimes the loudest noise is the hum of my appliances. But it never fails. Even if I do find myself lying under a blanket on my couch - staring at the burning candle - within a little while, my brain begins to offer suggestions for what we could be doing. Like:
  • reading
  • blogging
  • cooking
  • writing
  • going back to lying under a blanket and watching the candle burn
Boredom never lasts long - and it usually segues to new ideas that I may not have hatched if my eyes were still bewitched by those pretty flickering images. But that doesn't mean that I'm discarding the relevance of and the satisfaction gained from watching a well-spun tale on TV. All I'm saying, taking into consideration my own tendency to wander, wander, it's a good exercise for me to watch less TV. It means more creativity - and a greater flow of clean laundry.

Hmmm... that reminds me, I want to watch Tout sur moi tomorrow night - can someone invite me over?

*A decision I regret only when hockey's on. GO HABS!


Wanted: male muse

Intrepid girl writer seeks hot male who is inspirational and handy with a dust mop. Duties include: making me tea, bolstering my confidence and fluffing pillows. Dark, scruffy types preferred.

So what kind of response do you think I could get?

I’m hopeful, but something tells me that there won’t be a rush of phone calls. I briefly considered the possibility of pitching a reality t.v. show based on my search: me and 25 scantily clad himbos racing around the world in masks, stopping in lush, gorgeous beach resorts to sing songs and have house-cleaning contests. Simon Cowell would host – in flip-flops and Hawaiian shirts  – and the original Survivor winner, Richard Hatch, would serve us drinks in coconut half shells. A celebrity panel comprised of Mr. Clean, Marge the Palmolive Lady and the Tetley Tea elves would choose the winner.

But then I thought: where’s my gimmick? And that’s when I decided that the newspaper ad might have more of a hook. How does one go about the business of finding a male muse? The great male writers of the world have always managed to reel in babes – no matter how crusty they got around the edges – willing to take care of their every need while they concentrated on their art. These women sacrificed everything of themselves so that their men could make some contribution to the world of art.

Those who cannot pick up the pen, pick up after those who can.

But how many men are willing to take that same position? To be tucked away in the shadow of a woman’s fame?
Where are the Leonard Woolfs of the world hiding?

To a certain extent, intrepid girl writers are asking for the same tenderness and consideration that all girls seek. The difference is, most intrepid girl writers possess a highly attuned level of creative madness that create difficulty for others. For example, the perfect male muse, when confronted (for the one-millionth time) with a frustrated me staring at the bed I started making 12 hours before (having been lured away by a sentence needing to be written), will not scold me. No, the good male muse will nod his head slowly, smile to himself and toss the pillows over so that I can cram them into the too-little pillow covers while he does the sheet stuff. Then the good male muse will want to discuss said sentence and whisper a key grammatical change in my ear as we fall asleep.

This, I realise, is asking too much.

And yet, most of the great dead white guys all had their Mrs. to write out manuscripts by candlelight and produce children to carry on the name – basically  ground them by creating connections between the unearthly writer and the solid, tangible earth

Intrepid girl writers also need someone to help them create a familiar, cosy environment that keeps us feeling stable. When we break out of whatever writerly coma we slipped into, we want to know that there’s a cup of tea waiting for us. And made just the way we like it.

Oh, and did I mention “needs to own country estate” somewhere?


Top five songs of the week

Dis-moi au revoir encore by Eleni Mandell
As if Eleni Mandell couldn't get any cuter, now she's recorded two tracks in French. Her charming California pronunciation of French syllables is a magical spell. Uh-oh... I'm developing another girl crush...

by Spoon
If my current husband - Clive Owen - doesn't change his wandering ways, I may drop him for Britt Daniel, the ridiculously prolific and extremely talented lyricist and lead vocalist for Spoon. Apparently, the tousled-blond really-smart Texas thing goes a long way with me. Hand claps, a brass section - che bello! 

Bonus: I've always liked Spoon videos, and the one they put together for Underdog is probably my favourite - check it out on YouTube. Check out Daniel's sexy slouch over the guitar.

In your eyes by Peter Gabriel
Still guts me after all these years. If you haven't listened to it in a while, refresh your musical memory immediately. Don't be alarmed if you get a sudden urge for a make-out.

DJ play my song by Jully Black
Support Canadian talent! Here's to a kick-ass voice and the nicest legs in R&B. The biography on Jully Black's official site states: 

Jully Black has the look of a woman that's come into her own. She carries herself with an unshakable air of confidence... She has the look of a woman in love with life and full of passion for music... of a woman embracing her destiny, a woman fulfilling the promise of her youth.

If that describes you - or someone you'd like to become - then have a listen.

My fair weather friend by the Blue Seeds
It's the free single of the week on iTunes. Get it immediately! I love chick bands.

And a shout out out out to Monsieur Fortier - who launched his second album this very evening at La quai des brumes. My iPod will be eating it up tomorrow.

Yoga and personal space

Listen, yoga is not for sissies. You cannot be dédaigneux. Especially if you do Ashtanga yoga, which frequently requires a partner.

In the last two weeks alone, I have:
  • Balanced my pelvis on someone's feet (think Superman, with arms and legs fully extended)
  • Had some ginger man put his hands on my bum to help me fold over with greater ease
  • Scooted my bum near someone's head in order to climb on their back with my feet (double downward dog - it looks cooler than it sounds)
  • Had someone's fingers firmly pressed in the creases of my thighs to help me engage my groins and lift my hips into handstand
And because it's partner yoga, that means I also provided the same service for my partner. Yes, they left a little sweat on my mat. I probably left a little sweat on theirs. However, as yoga is supposed to teach greater knowledge of and greater comfort with your body, there will inevitably be contact with other bodies.

There's this one girl I often see around my studio. Dark black hair always pulled into a neat ponytail and doubly secured with a headband. Petite frame swathed in impeccably matched - and spotless - clothing. The most perfectly manicured eyebrows you could imagine. If this girl were a package, she's have smartly folded corners and a taut string.

So last week, we had an acro yoga class with plenty of partner positions. Poor thing looked traumatised throughout, and when the class was over, she dabbed her mat with a squarely-folded paper towel to sponge off her partner's sweat.

Like that would do anything.

Now if my mother had been there, she would have hosed me and the mat down before leaving, as well as scolded me for not being more hygiene-conscious like that other girl with the nice eyebrows.

But it seems to me that sometimes you have to let a little sweat into your life - whether it be your own or someone else's. Go home and shower, wash your mat frequently, but being overly attentive to maintaining an absolutely clean and prim appearance at all times will ultimately distance you from the here and now and what you're feeling at this precise moment.

Too bad for Miss Eyebrows - she missed a really great yoga class.



Short story snippet II

Although she was awake, B. lay a little while longer in bed, not put off by the smell of sheets soured with sweat or the whine of voices on the alarm clock radio. It was Sunday and B. knew that as soon as she slid off the mattress and slid into her slippers, she would instantly be filled with the usual despair. 

In the same way that most people hate Monday mornings, B. hated Sunday mornings. She just didn't know what to do with herself on those particular a.m.'s, and she always had the vague feeling that she was missing out on something.

Something like spending a few lazy hours tangled up in the arms of a lover. Or brunching with friends and reminiscing about last night. Or even just leafing through a newspaper in a café. 

But that was never her Sunday morning.

When B. woke every seventh day, she immediately began puttering around the house, putting away stray books and arranging socks. She was eager to keep moving - to stay two steps ahead of the realisation that there was no lover to be tangled with, no friends to share reminisces with.

That she didn't even like reading the newspaper.

She stared at the alarm clock radio, which she had forgotten to disable on Friday. It had woken her up at this precise time on Saturday morning as well. The time at which she would usually rise to begin her work day.

B. screwed her eyes shut and fervently wished it were sweet, sweet Monday.


The ten online commandments

The Internet is moving so quickly that it's impossible to adequately deal with the ethical and social issues that are daily popping up (privacy issues, cyber-stalking, netiquette, etc.)

Inspired by Pope Benedict XVI announcing seven new social sins, I have decided to begin addressing these issues by proposing a list of ten online commandments.

Let's make the Intraweb a better place starting today by following these simple rules:
  1. Thou shalt reply to all email messages within 48 hours.
  2. Thou shalt not forward kitschy photos, chain messages, or inspirational messages to your friends every day. This is an old lesson, but many of you have yet to learn. Just remember that even the most avid cat person can only stomach so many softly lit photos of fluffy white kittens lounging on pink satin. And if the message contains Holly Hobby in any of her cloying poses, delete it immediately.
  3. Thou shalt not feel obliged to accept Facebook friend requests from people you disliked in high school. The popularity contest is over, you won, so there's no need to keep campaigning.
  4. Thou shalt have two email addresses - one for professional communication and one for personal communication - because sending a CV to your dream employer from sexkitten78@hotmail.com may not make a great impression.
  5. Thou shalt always double and triple check recipient names before sending an email, because you don't want everyone in the building to receive that bitchy bile-infused vent about your boss that was only meant for your friend down the hall.
  6. Thou shalt always spell-check email before hitting "send" so as not to send a communication about "slut machines" or "cleaning up the asses outside the front door".
  7. Thou shalt not post pictures of your latest drunken mis-adventures on Facebook if there is the slightest chance that you bosses or coworkers will see it. Unless you want everyone in the office to start referring to you as "drunkey monkey".
  8. Thou shalt only conduct one or two MSN Messenger conversations as a time. This decreases the chance of you accidentally sending the message "I can't stand that back-stabbing cow" to the bovine in question.
  9. Thou shalt not download movies at work. It weighs down the connection and adversely affects the people who are actually trying to do work. Offenders (you know who you are) - save that for after work.
  10. Thou shalt CC key people on certain emails if there is the least chance that the whole project may go belly up and you have to redeem yourself later. When the finger-pointing begins, you'll be able to print the proof. Try not to look smug either.
Are there more?

Did I just see Charlton Heston go by my office door?


The Jackson Five: Remedy for winter blahs

It has recently come to my attention that many of you are suffering from the winter blues. But don't despair!

When the relentless snow, impassable streets, and wet feet are dragging your spirits down, there is only one remedy: The Jackson Five.

I particularly recommend I want you back.

Not only is it impossible to sit still while the piano, guitar and tambourine blend to create that unmistakeable funky-island-pop beat, but the way in which Michael Jackson’s tender voice wraps itself around the lyrics is truly spellbinding.

Such intensity from such a tiny boy… And yet, knowing his age doesn’t take away from the authenticity of the feeling at all. It’s endearing and heartbreaking and you want nothing more than to call that silly girl and insist she take him back already.

And don't get me started on the kick-ass bass line!

Oh, and if you prefer ABC, I remind you that it’s the song playing during that memorable scene from Clerks II when the delectable Rosario Dawson is dancing on the roof. Summer afternoon. Beautiful girl in a tank top. Watch this to keep warm…


Web 2.0 spreading to radio and TV

If you're not quite sure what Web 2.o is, watch Mike Wesch's video about the evolution of the Web first.

Are you back? Pretty neat, isn't it?

Anyway, so Web 2.0 is about the democratization of the Internet. It's taking the authority from the hands of The Man and giving it back to the people. It's about speaking directly to one another rather than being constrained to listen to manufactured truths. It's blogging and Facebook and hundreds of other sites that rely on user-generated content (UGC) for substance. This trend has become so prevalent that corporations are now finding ways to channel the power of UGC sites to help soften their perceived hard exteriors and encourage a more soft'n'fuzzy image.

What's amazing is that this trend has also spread to radio and TV. Although it's more widespread in the United States, television and radio stations now actively encourage their viewers/listeners to send in images and footage of notable events. Other media are now turning to UGC to boost their content and increase their popularity with the common folk. It's not surprising as the media continues to be inundated by criticism over a plethora of issues spanning the coverage of the war in Iraq to paparazzi-fuelled sensationalism to the spread of fear-mongering by news networks.

What better way for radio and TV to endear themselves to their public than by validating the contributions of that public? By letting the public play a role in shaping the news being broadcast to millions?

After all, with a greater share of TV and radio audiences migrating over to the Internet for all their information, educational, entertainment and purchasing needs, they needed to do something to bring back their bread and butter.

But we can't call it Web 2.0 if it's on TV and radio... I wonder if Mike Wesch has any suggestions?


Happy birthday to me!

Having spent most of today in active contemplation - painting gives you a lot of time to think - I came up with a gratitude list of people I have to thank for the wonders and discoveries of the last year.

Without further ado, thank you...

Ma and Pa, for receiving me into this world with so much joy and for sustaining it (even while making me crazy)
Pietro, for helping me deal with the parental units
Cara and Luca, for always throwing your little arms around my neck and kissing me even when I don't ask for it
Zac and Ben M, Ben and Naomi W, Cosmo and Alex D, a child's love is not given easily, and knowing this makes your tender welcomes even more special
Powell, for reminding me that I don't need to be so serious all the time and for inspiring change
SM, for teaching me to accept compliments and for thinking I have beautiful feet
Tom, for talking me off the cliff whenever I get dangerously close to the edge
Mani and Mark, for wiping my tears and feeding me sushi more times than I can count
Paula, for teaching me new things about myself - even though you're not trying
Fadi, for giving me faith
Steve and Dina, for feeding me and for letting me chase your kids down the hall
Alexis D, for thinking I'm cool - even after all these years - and for letting me hang out with your family
Melissa, for thinking I could party like a rock star
Sandra, for being my sexy (platonic) girlfriend
Rachel, Lindsay, and AMC, for being the bestest girl crushes (giggle)
my colleagues, for smiling through yet another diva crisis as I rant about preposition use and for letting me believe I run the place (I do!)
my fellow women writers, for doing things with words that take my breath away

And last but not least, thank you body, for happily carrying me through another year with little complaint.

If I haven't mentioned you by name - blame it on my lack of sleep and a too-heavy penchant for sentimentalism tonight. Know that I love you like mad and will happily tell you so. I cannot wait to see what adventures we'll get up to this year... hey, who wants to go to India??

Goodbye NDG, Hello Plateau!

I have spent the last week scraping, plastering, priming, painting, installing, packing, unpacking, breaking, fixing, etc. It was a slog, but I am now in my new home - the best present a girl could have on her 35th birthday.

As a newly-minted Plateausarde, I have the following to report as regards my fitting in/not fitting in:

GOOD: went shopping and used my enviro-bag
BAD: got up at 8.30 every morning (this according to Mr. Robertson, may get me kicked out and toot sweet)
GOOD: went to Belgian bakery and bought croissants and chocolatines on Saturday morning
BAD: did not shovel my front steps and wave jovially to neighbours as I did so
GOOD: walked everywhere
BAD: did not check my email, visit Facebook, text message or read blogs for two whole days (does this mean I will be set upon by a gang of rabid Gen Ys?)

I'll keep y'all posted. Now could someone please tell me how to use the thermostat? It's freezing in here...


A quick shout-out to the bendy boys...

Big congratulations to Seb Gagné, my favourite pest, and Étienne Denis, my favourite (and only) boss, for exploring their inner yogis.

Both of them are taking a yoga class at the Lyne St-Roch studios, and I could not be more proud *sniff*.

I expect weekly updates on the progress of your downward dogs.

And remember to keep those heels down!


Borderline, the movie

While the rest of the world discussed Hilary Clinton's comeback, Anne C. and I stepped out to Cinema Beaubien to catch Borderline, the film adaptation of two novels by notable Québec writer Marie-Sissi Labrèche.

(How nice am I? In case you'd rather read about politics than movies, I've provided a handy link to an excellent article about Ms. Clinton.)

The three best reasons to see Borderline - other than admiring the always radiant Isabelle Blais as Kiki:
  1. The layering of Kiki at different ages - sometimes Kiki-child, Kiki-aged-20 and Kiki-aged-30 share the same scene. The director layered their appearances perfectly, never once making it cheesy or sentimental. This technique was especially evocative because it reminded me that wherever we are, we carry the stories of our past with us, but that they don't have to define who we are today. It also pays homage to our responsibility to our past mistakes. As horrible as they may be, our mistakes belong uniquely to us and we must accept them in order to transform our actions today. Lesson learned.
  2. The sex scene between Isabelle Blais and Pierre-Luc Brillant (oh, relax, I didn't ruin anything - you're told within the first few minutes of the movie that IB's character has slept with everyone in town. And their sisters.) The push and pull of bodies - of wills - was perfectly calibrated, totally believable and gut-wrenchingly genuine.
  3. Pierre-Luc Brillant as the pastry chef/poet/would-be lover. I mistook PLB for IB's love interest in Les Aimants, a heartbreaking little movie that's "pas intelligent mais ça marche." It isn't the same actor, but both of them give off an achingly tender persona that makes the ladies swoon. See both performances. You'll get all woozy in the knees.
Happy movies... or politics.


Why Coronation Street rocks

I started watching Coronation Street back in university when I needed to unplug from the reading. It was my aunt Lia who first introduced me to this unpretentious Brit soap, but I didn't realise I was hooked until 10 years later.

I've had to defend this love of mine many times, as most people think Corrie is only for maiden aunts and tea-cosy collectors. If you ask around though, you'd be amazed how many Corrie fans are under the age of 40 and fully mobile.

(I'll gloss over the part about how I once belonged to a Coronation Street club that met once a month to discuss the latest events. I get ragged on enough as it is for belonging to a book club.)

Here are my top ten reasons for loving Coronation Street:
  1. Characters are not impossibly beautiful bimbos who wake up with perfect make-up and unwrinkled silk pajamas. Instead, Corrie characters are impossibly plain of appearance and wake up with ugly t-shirts and pillow marks on their faces. Hello bad teeth!
  2. In American soaps, half the characters work in the fashion industry, while the other half work as doctors. Most Coronation Street inhabitants work as seamstresses in the local knicker factory. There are currently no doctors or nurses on the show, but Gail (chinless) Platt does work as a receptionist at the local clinic.
  3. As viewers who have been watching Deirdre Barlow get progressively thicker around the waist and increasingly tendon-y around the neck can attest, Corrie actors don't get cosmetic surgery.
  4. Kitsch is king. Vera Duckworth's earrings! Liz MacDonald's sequined camouflage top with slit sleeves! Cilla's short skirts! Fiz's scooter! This show is wall-to-wall fun fur, fluorescent yellow, big feathers, lightning-bolt necklaces, and powder blue eyeshadow.
  5. Spider Nugent (photo above) is considered by many to be one of Corrie's biggest hearthrobs. His character is described as The Street's first eco-warrior, vegan and didgeridoo owner. Seriously. 
  6. No matter the severity, Corrie characters proudly wear their scratches, bumps and bruises for weeks, as their fake wounds must heal at the same pace as the real thing. Also, pregnant women only give birth after nine months, and children do not magically turn into teenagers overnight.
  7. Characters order bacon butties all the time. No shame, no calorie counting.
  8. Snappy writing, like "I don't know what I ever saw in you, you bunny boiling freak! Cheap sex whinging gob! Legs from heaven, personality from hell."
  9. All the accents are real.
  10. Even if I read the spoilers and find out what's happening for the next six months, it's still fun to watch. Yes, it's so artfully done that I never have problems willfully suspending my disbelief
Must go catch today's episode now - I think Paul dies today!


Short story snippet

I was going to write something original tonight, but am in too foul a mood. Instead I'm recycling something old. Well, old to me - new to you.

I wrote this a long time ago about someone I once knew. I picked it up again recently in an effort to make something of it. It's still a work in progress, but enjoy it anyway. Suggestions and criticism always welcome.

ad xx


Now that it's over, I've been searching for the one thing that I can keep.
The one memory that will last longer than pictures or notes scrawled on the corner of a napkin.
Although I have those too.

But I can only remember that day last spring when I turned a corner and saw him standing in front of the fruit store. The collar of his orange windbreaker was perked up. Bags weighed his arms down. His eyes were cast upwards to read a sign in the store window. Skin stretched so taut over his Adam's apple.

And I thought, “This is what he looks like when I’m not around, when he’s not being the John I know.”

Right then, with John standing before in his purest form, I glimpsed the universe of tenderness and pain and fear and courage inside him. All the beautiful things I could never see because of the angry push-and-pull that defined us. It was like seeing John as a child and I immediately understood that he was forever out of my reach. That I would never know the man standing in front of that window because I didn't know the words to lead me there.

So that's what I must keep. Isn't it terrible? The only memory I have and I don't even get a role in it.
Other than to exit.


The frail human ego

With Italians, it’s all about respect. Why do you think some of them punctuate the beginning and end of every thought with the personal pronoun “me” or “you”?

It’s because they are very concerned with giving everyone – especially themselves – due respect. It’s their little way of affirming themselves and their opinions.

It’s the same reason why so many Canadians punctuate their sentences with “eh”. It’s just a call for acknowledgment, the cue that will elicit the approving response we think we require.

Me, that's what I think, me.


Removing body hair

Understand one thing: a woman's greatest enemy is unwanted body hair.

When it comes to depilation, no expense is spared, no discomfort avoided, no measure left untried in our ongoing battle against those hated follicles. The stuff is everywhere - legs, bikini lines, arms, underarms, upper lips, eyebrows, unruly hairlines - and, for the most part, it just keeps growing back.

The thrust that drives the pharmaceuticals to come up new and parade-worthy treatments for erectile dysfunction is basically the same thrust that women apply to the eradication of unwanted body hair. More than anything else, men want to get it up, and women just want it gone.

(There's a neat little rhyme I could make at this point with the word pluck, but I leave it to your imagination.)

Waxing, bleaching, shaving, lasering, sugaring, plucking, threading, nuking. All of which must be following by loofahing, exfoliating, and moisturising to prevent rashes or the much-feared ingrown hairs. As a result, the amount of products and accessories you accumulate is astonishing. In my closet alone, there is hot wax (with a spreading knife and reusable cotton strips), disposable razors, post-laser treatment balm, three kinds of loofah, an exfoliant for my face, and more face and body creams than you can shake a stick at.

And I'm not even that hairy (which is astonishing for women of my tribe).

With the amount of money that we spend on hair removal, it surprises me that women don't already receive spam email. Like instead of "Your size DOES matter" and "Impress beautiful ladies with your massive weener", I can see "Never be embarrassed about the size of your eyebrows again" or "He can't get enough of your smooth legs".

But seriously, people, as utterly frivolous as this may seem, it really isn't. We've even named different wax jobs - the half-Brazilian, the Telly Savalas, and other things that sound vaguely like wrestling holds. Would you let some stranger stand over you while you're lying on your stomach - wearing no underwear - and spread hot wax in the valley between your cheeks? No? Women do. All the time. That's how serious it is, buster.

My own modest routine includes: self-waxing of the legs, aesthetician waxing of the bikini line, laser treatments on the underarms and threading of the upper lip and eyebrows. It's time-consuming, but it must be done. Some would justify it as the price you have to pay to be alluring and sexually attractive. While I admit this to be true, I would also like to point out that having smooth skin is a pleasure for me as well.

There is much satisfaction to be had in taking care of yourself - in letting others take care of you.

I especially love going to the threading salon and being ministered to by a beautiful Indian woman who sings along to Bollywood-sounding music on the radio as she unroots my facial hair with surgical precision.

I also have a really sexy girl aesthetician, but that's another story for another time.

Right now, I have an ingrown on my thigh that I need to look at again. And maybe even squeeze this time. Just a little. With the edge of my nail. A little.

Please note: 'weener' was mis-spelled on purpose. I cannot bear to have anyone think I  made a spelling mistake and didn't correct it.