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Showing posts from June, 2011

five reasons the world is happy i don't have kids

i'm consistently surprised that people keep asking me if/ when i'm planning on having children. me planning to have children strikes me as an idea equivalent to planting explosives around a nuclear power plant to see what happens. here's why:


1. i'm incredibly self-centred. have you read this blog? i talk about virtually nothing but myself and there's a reason for that. with a very few exceptions, i don't really even think of other people as human. not a great start as far as maternal instincts go.

2. the cats really dictate most things in my life. anyone seeking refuge from nightmares in the middle of the night will have to negotiate with them for space on the bed. they get to kiss me as often as they like, which means that the immune systems of anyone who comes near me had better be state of the art. no excuses for being young and developing.

OH THERE'S MORE...

baby steps

i had a dream last night that was very, very complicated, but one of the images that most stuck with me was being with a group of people and having to descend an extremely decrepit staircase. i mean, parts of it weren't even a staircase anymore, just gaps with roots and branches kind of protruding. and this thing was really steep, crazy steep. pretty much a vertical drop in some places.

i think a lot of people have dreams like this, about having to take very difficult, dangerous or challenging walks, generally because our collective unconscious isn't that imaginative when it comes to thinking up metaphors for the challenges we see ourselves facing. a staircase is actually kind of a departure for me, because normally, these dreams are about bridges. having to cross rickety old bridges over rushing water, something i would probably never do in real life. [i once tried to cross the jacques cartier bridge in montreal on a sunny summer day as a way of dealing with my fear of being …

mental health mondays :: the skinny on anorexia

like most people, i first heard about anorexia nervosa in conjunction with the story of karen carpenter. like rock hudson with aids, the death of a celebrity suddenly pushed a little-known and widely misunderstood condition into the public eye. unfortunately, decades later, we're not really much closer to solving the mystery of why someone would actively starve themselves, possibly to death. what's more startling is that the nature of the disease itself may be changing.

the medical history of anorexia begins- more or less- with the work of sir william gull. gull's name, insofar as it's known today, is associated chiefly with a conspiracy theory that involves him being involved in the slayings of london prostitutes under the moniker "jack the ripper" [he's the bad guy in both the graphic novel and the film "from hell", although, for what it's worth, it's pretty damn unlikely he was in any way involved]. in his time, however, gull was know…

making faces :: product review [lush skin care]

it's been a while now since i've gone to bed at what anyone could consider a reasonable hour. the problem with being awake at dawn every morning is that i can't really do much [because i don't want to wake up dom or my neighbours, particularly the irascible ones downstairs who don't like cats], but i feel like i have to do something or else i'm going to die of boredom.

i do try to sleep, of course. i stay supine for as long as i can, until some unbearable random thought just practically propels me out of the bed. last night, for instance, it was the sudden realisation that there are no decent tiki bars in montreal. i mean, it seems like every city has at least one place with a koi pond and drinks served in coconuts, but i couldn't think of one. [turns out that the only one is actually a kind of horrible vintage place in the east end that i now feel i must try.]

since i was up and i could already see the ravages of sleeplessness on my face, i decided to try …

the artist at work

there are those who like to tell you that, if you're a creative person, you just have to sort of wait for the muse to come to you, that you can't force things, that you have to wait for that moment where she visits you and dedicate yourself passionately to enjoying every moment spent in her presence, because you never know when the next visit will come.

i used to think that way about creative work, until i was in my thirties and, like a lot of things i used to believe, it struck me as a little bit pathetic. seriously, it sounds like the advice you give someone who has a crush on a person with whom they patently have no chance at all. "just be yourself and if it's meant to be, it'll happen". i am not a patient person as a rule and therefore, i decided that i would do whatever i could to make those creative epiphanies happen.

friday favourites 24.06.11

bonne fĂȘte st. jean! in case you're outside of quebec, this is the annual day when everything shuts down for a big-ass party. i remember it chiefly from the years i lived in the "working class" neighbourhood [note- like most "working class" neighbourhoods, no one actually seemed to work except me] of hochelaga as the day when the people who sat on their doorsteps all summer would be drunk by 8h30 rather than 10h30. back when i first moved to montreal, it was also an excuse for an annual riot, but the city seems to have collectively outgrown that. hm, i just realised that the last sentence makes it sound like i had something to do with the riots...

well, although the first of two short work weeks means less when you're not working, it is still a festive time of the year and it's nice to live in a part of the country that still takes its vacation time very seriously. although for the first time in all the years i've been aware of the holiday the forec…

making faces :: product review [mac "bloggers' obsessions" collection]

it's been a bit of a disappointing run for me with mac in 2011. granted, their 2010 line-up was so good that some things were bound to be a let down, but other than the "peacocky" collection in january with its incredible "mega metal" eye shadows and "kissable lip colour" liquid lipsticks [kind of a lipstick/ gloss hybrid and, ironically, not kissable unless you want a mess on your face, but lovely nonetheless], their collections this year have really seemed kind of anemic. they showed some signs of returning to their winning ways with their recent summer "surf baby" collection and then launched this- an online only collection of shadows and glosses each designed by a different beauty blogger. it's a novel concept and one that once again points to mac's strengths- the ability to see an important trend [the increasing reliance on and proliferation of beauty blogs] and the agility to organise a collection and bring it to market before …

mental health mondays :: size matters

if i asked you, without resorting to google, to point to your amygdala, would you know what to do? chances are that you know details about relatively less important parts of your body [my right middle finger is really visibly crooked!], but these mysterious little almond-shaped and almond-sized clumps of neutrons lodged in the brain's medial temporal lobe, adjacent to the hippocampus, are crucial in determining your brain's supposedly irrational reactions. [fyi, they would actually be difficult to point to directly, if you were asked to do so...]

the amygdala plays a central role in emotional regulation, including very basic reactions like fear as well as the more complex process of emotional memory formation. this makes it a crucial component of responses to things like interactions with things and/ or people that are unfamiliar. late last year, a study emerged to show that the size of the amygdala might actually determine one's potential for social success. persons in po…

making faces :: product review [hourglass]

i saved these ones for a separate post, although they came as part of my aforementioned sephora haul. i'd been curious about this brand for a while, since it's still fairly new and unknown. offering a mix of luxury-level colour cosmetics and a small number of accessories, their range is narrow but classic. you won't find hot pinks or chartreuse greens in their offering, but their fans appreciate their muted, understated palette and rave about the brand's quality.

quality in this case is important, because the brand is priced on a level with prestige names like chanel and yves st. laurent. that's a ballsy move for a small company less than a decade old, but word of mouth had it that they warranted the hype, so i decided to give them a try.

SEE HOW MY HOURGLASS GAMBLE PAID OFF...

friday favourites 17.06.11

ok, i am prepared to say that this week had some favourites. a lot of the previous week's irritants remain, but i'm generally feeling a little less angry and hostile about the world in general. here are a few reasons why...

a new 'do :: i've been getting generally frustrated with my hair for the last few weeks, as i always do when the summer comes around. this is due to a combination of factors such as the fact that i have extremely thick hair that tends to run a bit dry, the fact that montreal gets extremely dusty when it gets hot and that crap gets trapped in my giant hedge of hair. i'd also reached that point where my previous hair cut had become lost in the outgrowth- whatever shape and style it had had going in had been overwhelmed and so i was getting rather shapeless... so in a fit of pique, i took dom up on his offer to cut it. since i'm a little finicky about how my hair frames my face, i did most of the work on the top/ front and dom did the overall st…

the currency gouging index

i'm starting to include references to this more and more as i post. you'll notice it mostly in posts related to cosmetics, because those are where there is a clear difference in canadian versus u.s. prices.

basically, the story is this:

the canadian dollar is worth more than the american dollar and has been for several months. in fact, for the last couple of years, we've been dancing with parity on an ongoing basis. many canadian consumers can accept the fact that our import taxes are a little higher, or that there is duty to be paid on imported goods, but considering that for every canadian dollar paid, american companies are making money if they charge the same price as they do to americans. [e.g., using yesterday's exchange rate from the bank of canada- a product sold at $25usd to a canadian customer would net $25.81usd if the customer paid in canadian dollars]

we are a reasonable people. most of us do not mind paying a couple of extra dollars for the convenience of …

making faces :: product review [givenchy, urban decay, makeup forever]

as per my last post, i indulged in my lip colour fetish again and placed an order with sephora. this was my first time ordering on line from them, something borne of just not wanting to make my way all the way out to pointe claire [although seeing the employees there would have been nice]. overall, the service was a little slow [i'm comparing here to other on line retailers based in the united states] and they made a small mistake in my order. [sephora offers free samples with each order, which you can choose. they got mine wrong. i'm not about to raise a huge fuss over something i got for free, but still, what was in the box didn't even match the invoice included, which was correct.]

all of the products i ordered and paid for were included, which, true to form, were very lip-heavy. i ordered an eye shadow duo and lipstick from hourglass, which i'll address separately, since it's my first experience with the company. in this round, i'll cover the others...

given…

today happiness is...

a big box of goodies



trying out new crayons



making ourselves look scary in the name of research and beauty



and a cat who finds you a little bizarre at the moment...



needless to say, reviews will be forthcoming...

mental health mondays :: the angry edition

i usually try to keep to subjects that i think will be of practical use to people when it comes to mhm. i do this because i don't want to be write a pop psychology column every week and the fact is that commentary on popular events isn't much use to anyone. there is enough disposable chatter in the world [and a lot of it on this blog, lest you think i'm talking down], i'd like to contribute something that might be helpful. in fact, i'd even started a piece for this week about physical anomalies in the brains of people with mental disorders that *might* offer clues as to the biological factors at work, which i thought i could make quite accessible.

unfortunately, i, like a lot of comedians and the entire u.s. government, have been distracted this week by the tale of congressman anthony weiner's wiener. it seems like this is the story that keeps on giving, with new photos turning up every day and calls for his resignation growing louder than a stadium full of ai…

making faces :: product review [stila, benefit]

thought i'd take the opportunity of a truly miserable sunday afternoon [is it just me or does bad weather seem a lot worse when it happens on sunday?] to give some quick [for me] thoughts on a couple of things i've picked up lately, one new to the market, one just new to me.












stila sparkle eye liner "curacao"
this is a brand that i've wanted to try for a while, starting chiefly from the fact that my first exposure to them came from seeing their name on early iterations of companies that don't perform animal testing. while it's a lot easier to find companies who meet that criteria nowadays, i was still always interested to see what stila did. it's just that i could never find them. for whatever reason, their products never seemed to be on sale any place i could actually get to. reluctant to make my first experience an online exchange, i waited and was recently rewarded when i went into murale and found that the lise watier display had been uprooted in fa…

the arithmetic of agony

if you're reading this blog, i love you in some digital, non-personal but nonetheless genuine way and i would not want harm to befall you. so please take note of the following equation ::




+



 +

+



+

=





so now that you know, please take steps to avoid my insanity stupidity.

friday favourites 10.06.11 [the un-favourites]

the difficulty in seeing the bright side of things is that, if fate punches you in the eye often enough, your vision becomes extremely limited. that's me this week. and normally, because i think it's healthier for me and for those who come in contact with me, i try to maintain a cool, balanced perspective and remember that, even when things suck, there are reasons to be happy. i don't do this because of a desperate "stuart smalley"-esque [although it apparently worked for him] need to convince myself that everything is ok, but because i think it's way too easy to become bitter, self-defeating and angry. and it's way too easy to miss things that really deserve to be savoured. there's a lot of subtle emphasis on the importance of not enjoying life too much- a suspiciousness accorded to any activity that doesn't carry the stigma of work and sacrifice and i personally consider that insidious characteristic to be behind a lot of ugly realities we all h…

making faces :: fuchsia perfect

those who know me [and now, those who read this blog] know that i have a real thing for the dramatic shade known as either fuchsia or magenta. there are different definitions [and sub-definitions] of both, but for the purposes of the everyman, fuchsia is that point where intense pink and purple meet, shake hands and decide to be way cooler than everyone else. [sometimes literally- brown dwarf stars, the coolest stars in terms of temperature, emit an eerie fuchsia light.]
the origin of the name fuchsia, as with many shade names, comes from a family of plant. these plants bear flowers of the eponymous colour, which is about as unnatural-looking a thing as you're likely to see in anyone's garden. not surprisingly, there are few people who, when asked to name colours they associate with the natural world, will go with fuchsia. [in fact, when asked to name colours that remind them of anything, most people are not going to go with "fuchsia" as a first choice.]
fuchsia and ma…

listed!

who says bad things come in threes? i always like things based on threes, down to the fact that during the many years that i was a student, i used to draw little doodles of triangles in the margins of my notebooks. so here are a few random "top threes" that i have in my head at the moment...

awesome animals [other than cats]

1. owls :: that's a huge category of animals, actually, since owls of various sorts are native to every continent except antarctica, but i really don't have a particular favourite. snowy owls, perhaps, but they're all pretty majestic, mysterious and enigmatic. i think that one of the things that really appeals to me about these creatures is that they share so many qualities attributed to cats- the impression of wisdom, the independence, the unnerving skill as a predator and at the same time a sort of droll character that makes them as funny as they are alluring.

2. green tree pythons :: ok, that's a ridiculously specific answer, given the …

mental health mondays :: sick

i was probably around twelve or so when i first saw "one flew over the cuckoo's nest". i know that i'd already developed a thing for jack nicholson and even at that age, i'd become completely fascinated with issues of mental illness and its treatment. one of the things that has always stuck with me from the film are those scenes with the mental hospital employees- not just louise fletcher's deservedly appreciated turn as nurse ratched, but those with the brutish orderlies assigned to impose the physical order that nurse ratched, the ward disciplinarian, insists on.

when i saw the film, i never explicitly thought about how true-to-life the characters were. i was aware that ken kesey, the author of the novel on which the film was based, had been inspired by his own work as a mental institution, but i don't think i ever believed that the story and characters were factual. after all, the point of writing a novel or creating a narrative film was that you could…

who is beatriz coca?

i wish i could answer that question for you. in fact, if anyone were able to answer that question, it would be me, because beatriz makes an appearance one pages 184-185 of "a definable moment in time", aka the story i've been publishing in serial form here on the blog. [see "let me tell you a story", above right. and no, we're nowhere near pages 184-185 yet, but i passed them long ago in writing terms.]

i know that there was a reason that i included her and a reason why i gave her a fairly distinctive name [at least for a story largely about white north americans and europeans] and i even have a hint as to how she's supposed to tie into the story. i'm reasonably sure she was an excellent clap of thunder in the midst of a brainstorm. there's just one problem.

i can't remember who she is anymore.

because of the relative complexity of the story for "a.d.m.i.t." [best. acronym. ever.] and the fact that it was clear from the beginning th…

friday favourites 03.06.11

my feet hurt. and that's a good thing, because it means that i've had a lot of time to go walking. walking is kind of a year-round favourite with me and it's more than a little frustrating that i live in a climate where walking can be impossible or highly unpleasant for so much of the year. not this week, though! i have taken advantage of this week's sunny days [and the fact that i have a lot of time on my hands and frustrations to work out] to pound the pavement, mostly in ndg and westmount and feel content that i'm keeping myself at least a little bit active.

although i really want to avoid repetitiveness, i feel like i would be remiss if i didn't point out that the segment of last night's episode of "the daily show", where jon stewart responded to eric cantor's position on tornado relief is quite possibly the best thing they've ever done. you can watch the full episode on the show's web site, unless you're in canada, in which ca…

making faces :: product review [christian dior]

it's strange, because as much as i know that dior is still a home of haute couture, they're cosmetic marketing increasingly leaves me thinking of the girl hanging out with the chi-chi crowd who doesn't quite belong. unlike the more refined collections of chanel or guerlain- who should be their haute couture contemporaries- dior cosmetics always seem very much a thing of the modern world, always pushing the edge and leading the way. it's a strange position for them to be in and one that i'm never certain befits their exalted status. while everything that they release seems very pretty and often incredibly useful [no one has nicer shadow combinations than the ones that are available in their ready-made quints], they seem to lack the sort of classic refinement that the aforementioned natural competitors have.

the advantage to being the haute couture cousin least saddled with traditional baggage is that you have the opportunity to come up with things that are innovativ…

dj kali & mr. dna @ the caustic lounge 01.06.11

having the caustic lounge on the first of the month threw me a bit... like it snuck up on me. as a result, i have to say that this set was a little further off the cuff than i usually like to get. i think that both of us managed to cover a remarkable bit of ground in these sets, which i suppose can be seen as either exciting or maddeningly schizophrenic, depending on your aural perspective. hope that we managed to touch a chord and not a nerve with most.

the next caustic lounge will take place on july 6th, same time and same place. but not the same set lists, because that would just be silly.

mr. dna's undercover opus...

the residents :: it's a man's man's man's world
dive :: isolation
sukia :: me! i disconnect from you
silicon teens :: let's dance
zombie zombie :: nightclubbing
the monitors :: i desire
polysics :: my sharona
the vandals :: heigh ho
dickies :: paranoid
dinosaur jr :: just like heaven
pixies :: head on
melvins :: going blind
killdozer :: cinnamon …

making faces :: product review [lush "dirty" collection]

although everyone is releasing new products for the summer season, this is a big one, since it represents a whole new [and apparently permanent] line and a set of products that are geared towards men. that's not to say, of course, that women can't use them, but there's definitely an emphasis on elements that will draw in men who are looking for ways to look, feel and smell clean. so, in the interests of giving these products a fair shake, i enlisted dom's help in testing them out.

the product line has several components- a body spray, hair styling cream, bath/ shower gel and shaving cream, but i highlight recommend doing what i did and grabbing the convenient little introductory box that has all the components in miniature size for you to try. [the box is $20 canadian and contains generous enough sizes of all the products to give you a good idea of whether or not they'll work for you. it also contains one product that's exclusive to the set, which i'll get …