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Showing posts from December, 2011

2011 :: musical notes

when i was younger, i used to be able to do a top ten album list every year, without fail. in recent years, i really haven't found that possible, partly because i'm slower than ever to catch up on listening to music, partly because my tastes are so obscure that i often don't find out about music until it's a year or so old, partly because i think my standards were lower [in many ways] when i was young and partly because i am, undeniably, of an age where i don't have the stamina to keep up with all the latest trends and bands. sigh. there is nothing like music to let  you know that you're getting old.

of course, i still take some pride/ solace in the fact that my musical tastes continue to evolve and that each year, i do seem to make contact with a handful of releases that do make me perk up my ears. i make an effort to go to shows when i can and when it doesn't interfere with my nap and ovaltine schedule. and i do still try to keep abreast [sometimes both o…

friday favourites 30.12.11

so this is how it ends... it's the very last "friday favourites" of 2011, which means i really should be reviewing my favourite things from the entire year. my friends, i can't say i'll miss this year very much, which is sort of frustrating, because i said the same thing last year, but i guess the good news is that i'm fully aware of the problems i have and the things that will eventually solve them, which is actually an improvement on last year, when i felt like things had been largely out of control.

[way to start a piece called "friday favourites", dumbass -ed.]

but the fact that i'm happy to be moving on to 2012 doesn't mean that there weren't parts of the year that i enjoyed greatly. in fact, there were several things that stand out. i've decided to divide my preferences into a few posts- this one is more general, but there will be separate ones dealing with music- and beauty-related things. i should have both of those ready for…

tickling your fancy?

i came across this article on the bbc yesterday, which you can read, or i can summarise thusly:

it's about scientists in england tickling animals as research.

ostensibly, they're researching how laughter evolved and while i'm sure that in some cases, laughter is indeed the best medicine, i have a feeling that this will not help them cure cancer any time soon. i'm trying not to be judgmental, because damn, the videos are cute, but it does raise some questions for me.

first of all, i don't need scientists to tell me that animals are ticklish, because i have arthur and the few times i was daft enough to try to brush his belly fur, he demonstrated in no uncertain terms that he was not into it. he used to play this horrible prank of rolling on his back and showing said belly as a temptation to touch him, but it was actually just a horrible trap that resulted in the loss of a few friends. [meaning they stopped visiting, not that he killed them. as far as you know.] it was…

dj kali & mr. dna @ le ska des fêtes 28.12.11

one of the nice things about knowing people whose musical experience branches off from your own in certain places is that one of them will occasionally call on you to do something outside of your comfort zone. now, a punk/ ska set isn't strictly speaking something that i am unfamiliar with, but i'm used to including those things as part of a larger set that tends to lean more quirky unpop/ post-punk/ cold wave/ industrial... of course, in years past i've also done a number of noise/ power electronics sets and even techno back in the old days [which, ironically, were the young days]. but i digress...

anyway, props to mr. dna, who truly owned the evening, because he knows this stuff better than me and thanks very much to fred @ rude mekanicals for including me in the fun. it was a great chance to check out some local rising stars [vinny savage, bluff and the always amazing slater's sons] and take on a new challenge [although you'll note that i pretty much reverted to…

making faces :: mac + guinness- a match made in kate's personal heaven?

when i first heard that mac cosmetics was doing a line with beer heiress daphne guinness, i had this wonderful idea where, if you bought two or more items from the collection, you'd get a free 4-pack of her tasty, tasty brew, provided you had some sort of i.d. to prove it wasn't illegal for you to get one. sadly, that didn't come to pass and the aesthetic and alcoholic parts of my personality were forced to remain separate. i still think that the promotion would have encouraged people to buy more. as would plying them with guinness at mac stores, but for some reason, no one ever takes my brilliant marketing campaign suggestions.

this actually isn't the first time daphne guinness, who seems to be best known as a style icon, has paired up with a cosmetics company. she was actually the face of nars' fall 2010 campaign, which introduced [among other things] the eponymous "daphne" eye shadow, an intense royal purple shade. i'm assuming that the purple was …

making faces :: my christmas face

one of the nice things about having a fairly extensive family of in-laws is that this time of the year affords me a lot of excuses to get myself gussied up. although many of us wear makeup or put some consideration into how we look every day, there are always times when a sense of occasion makes us take just that extra bit of care and the holidays are certainly one of those times [or, in my case this year, a few of those times].

this isn't really an opportunity where i want to look all vegas-showgirl [actually, there aren't really any times when that's what i'm going for, which is just as well], but i did use it as an excuse to trot out a few past favourites and a new friend...

most of the eye shades come from the spring colour forecast 4 quad released by mac in 2010. i'm normally not a great fan of spring collections, at least not the way i am of fall collections, but this was one where mac really hit it out of the park. built around four shades- pink, coral, plum…

is this really what you want?

i was just perusing my google analytics to see who's been checking this spot out and how they've come to be here.

the most common ways for people to arrive here are fairly obvious- looking for a picture or review of a particular cosmetic product [happy to oblige], looking for a download of a particular album [sorry] or- less frequently than before but still prevalent- looking for dirt on bell canada and stumbling across details of my epic battle. although that battle has long passed, i'm happy to say horrible things about the company at the least provocation, so feel free to provoke me.

however, there are also some slightly stranger ways in which people find this blog. for instance, every day, i get someone who searched for "hooded figure" stumbling upon this post. and while there's not a lot of sense to most things here, that is an especially strange introduction. i wonder how many of them actually come back. [i should also add that if i search for the word…

i'm still waiting for when we look back at all that and laugh

when i was in grade eight, we used to have a weekly period in school where we were just supposed to sit and read. if we didn't bring a book with us [i.e., if we were too thick to figure out that we could use the time to read stuff we were assigned but didn't want to bother with during our free time], we were told that we should just put our heads down on our desks and nap. i'm not making that up. it's what we were told to do, a rule obviously invented by someone who had never seen what happens when you close your eyes in a room full of thirteen year-olds.

one week, i decided to use this forty-five minutes of "quiet" time to write something and, since i'd been watching a lot of the station called "cnn", which was new to my house, i decided to make it a political parody, i wrote a little jingle [to be sung to the tune of "she'll be coming round the mountain", which also makes excellent backing music for the poems of miss emily dicke…

friday favourites 23.12.11

it's the penultimate friday of the year and, like a proverbial christmas miracle, we've just gotten a light dusting of snow in montreal. personally, i've never been preoccupied with the need for a white christmas, mostly because i realise that there will be plenty of opportunities to see snow over the next few months. like in april. but i know that you're supposed to have snow in time for the holidays and as long as there are big white fluffy flakes coming down, it generally means that it's not so cold that you can't breathe. and that's always a plus.

so for this week, i decided to dispense with my usual humbug and make myself confront the hidden truth: there are things that i actually really like about this time of year. i'm normally the kind of person who gets frustrated by this season- the endless exhortations to buy, the phony sentiment, the experience of traveling [something which i'm happy i haven't had to do in a few years] all set to a s…

making faces :: ooh, sparkly!

people have very mixed feelings about sparkling. that's not just a "twilight" thing, either, although that's certainly made the debate a little more contentious. on the one hand, there's the fact that people who sparkle can look a little weird- which is sort of the crux of the "twilight" bit, as i understand it- and decidedly unnatural. on the other hand, our eyes are naturally drawn to things that have sparkle because they stand out. but at this time of year, it seems like the message to women everywhere is that you're supposed to sparkle, because if you don't, you'll get lost in the long hours of darkness that mark the winter solstice.

i'm a little long in the tooth [which is kind of an odd expression, since teeth tend to get worn down with age] to get away with anything full on glittery, but i do still enjoy having a bit of lustre from time to time. here are a few of the things that help me scratch that itch [without causing other itc…

stuff i want for christmas [that only santa can bring me]

while i'm always uber-grateful for the things that i get from friends and family [and dom, who is both of those things, but also more], each year i have a holiday list of things i'd really, really like to get, but which no one is going to be able to deliver. unless santa is real. and even then, i'd like to see how he fits them into his sack.

a rick santorum gay sex scandal :: tell me that you aren't thinking about the near-inevitability of this every time the guy appears on screen. that combination of uncomfortable tight-assedness and ignorant hatred is almost always a sure sign of some really weird skeletons in the closet.  and let's face it, when the iowa caucus happens on january 3rd, santorum is going to be the one on the chopping block, so we don't have long before he'll be out of the spotlight permanently. the only candidate who fares worse in iowa polls is john huntsman, who has let it be known that he could care less if the entire state of iowa gets …

making faces :: berry xmas

well i've no doubt exhausted all of you with the litany of red lipsticks in my possession [or, if i haven't, let me tell you how spectacularly awesome i think you are], but can i share a little secret? i actually love me a really rich berry-toned lip as much or more than a good red. well, it depends on who we're talking about here. reds are strong, classic, timeless. berries are cooler, more reserved, perhaps a little more difficult to pin down.

and speaking of difficult to pin down... what exactly constitutes a "berry" shade anyway?

well, it's not like there's an organisation that makes rules for these things [yes there is, it's called pantone -ed.]. i'll just give you my idea of what "berry" means, which, considering i'm the one who's writing this blog post, is really all you'll need to navigate your way through the shades that follow.

a few months ago, i did a post on "coral", a shade that gets talked about a lo…

friday favourites 16.12.11

i know that this is supposed to be my little positivity puddle at the end of the week, but it will make me feel better in light of the last week if i just start off by saying this: on behalf of a great number of canadians, i'm sorry about stephen harper.

yes, canada is now taking a leadership role on the world stage by being the first country to walk away from its commitments under the kyoto accord and underlining the meaning of that gesture by ensuring that it has absolutely no meaningful alternate strategy. go ahead, mock us. it's almost funny if you don't have to live here. he has always and continues to cast a dark cloud over the country. now we know the cloud is probably poisonous.

but there are some bright spots, and that's the purpose of "friday favourites" after all. onward and upward, while i can still breathe the air.

tell lowe's to get screwed :: yes folks, it's time for a good ol' fashioned boycottin'. in case you hadn't heard, …

dead

i have not done this before but...

look at the image i've chosen to start off this post. does it make you feel squeamish? then chances are the rest of this short story will too. please conduct yourself accordingly.

I think Martin’s dead. He was grey when I left this morning. I didn’t want to touch him because, if he is dead, I don’t want to know. I don’t want to be bound to anyone dead. Hits too close to home. If someone dies in the same room as you, it brings that angel just a little too close. I’d rather have it be a question mark in my mind. I’d rather not know the right answer. Not that I think I’d mind death. Being dead would either be fine or it would be nothing, which is nothing to be afraid of. What I would mind is the dying part, where you feel yourself shutting down, feel everything that is your insignificant life rushing out of you. I hope I go quickly when I go.
I didn’t really know Martin, but I can’t stop thinking about him now. I’d like to stay the hell away from th…

making faces :: the fable of unshrinking violet

one time, in the land of colour and make-believe, a great and generous family hosted a splendid party for the holidays. the party had a giant tree that was tastefully decorated, not one of those godawful ones with the stringy "icicles" hanging off them, because those damn things get everywhere and you find them in your carpet in july and the cats eat them and barf them up exactly when you're trying to sleep and they don't even look like icicles anyway. this was a wonderful, healthy blue spruce and you know what? it was on the lawn, meaning it was still alive so you don't even have to feel sorry for it.

and the house was decorated in a very tasteful scheme of white and gold lights and there were lovely antique-looking decorations, none of which made sounds, because we all know that gets old after the second time you hear it and you can be sure that some "druncle" [you know what of i speak] is going to be getting it to make sound for about an hour straigh…

the montreal metro project, part 6

here's a few more images for you from around the montreal metro system. today, we're looking at stations in the east of montreal, or at least the narrow strip of the east that is served by the metro. yes, that last bit is supposed to sound like a snipe at city planners who inexplicably left the city's working class east end out of their public transit plans for far too long. in fact, the vast expanse of the island east of st. denis is exactly the sort of area that requires great public transit, being stuffed [in many cases to overflowing] with apartment dwellers and lower-income workers who are least able to afford a car, especially with the current price of gas.

the city has taken a lot of measures to improve bus service, to be fair and has done so while keeping fees quite reasonable [a monthly pass costs about 60% of what it does in toronto, where the public transit system is almost laughable]. but metro services remains [and, sadly, is likely forever to remain] a pipe d…

the ladykillers

dom and i belatedly watched the truncated last season of "entourage", wherein we see the tale of the boys from queens living the high life in hollywood wrapped up, but not so tightly that there isn't room for a movie to wriggle out at a later date.

i wasn't thrilled with the first season of the show, but i did find that it got entertaining afterward, especially from seasons two through four. as someone who is interested in the workings of the movie industry, i enjoyed the fantasy of hollywood it presented and cringed at the probably more realistic problems with ego, money and politics that consistently came into play. although the last season concentrates less on that than on the personal lives of the characters, it's still fun. however.

thinking about it, there is one section that bothered me, not just because i resent it a little, but because it reveals something about progress of women in the minds of hollywood writers. or lack thereof.

[warning: spoilers ahe…