Archive for the 'Brenkin' Category

‘Tis the season, Marge!

I can’t believe it’s still snowy here. I hope school doesn’t get cancelled tomorrow, it’s the last day for me to do TA evaluations with my students. I have numerical points, they get less relevant as they go on.

1) Thanks, Stephen Harper. This is so dumb. For one, it already passed. For two, the Supreme Court already said that unequal marriage laws are unconstitutional. For three, even if it would fail in a “free vote,” the reason we have a constitution is to protect minority rights. Sigh.

2) Snow makes me totally want to bake; I still have a while (and a lot of essays) before Christmas baking season starts in earnest, but my muffins puffed up much better this time. Reasons: I bought new baking powder and also, I mixed even less thoroughly. My winter baking plans include Nigella’s savoury blue cheese cooking, maybe trying to find some kind of mint chocolate brownies, and I want to try out eggnog muffins. (I may try that well before. Also, it would give me the excuse to buy eggnog. I’m like Homer Simpson: “We only get thirty sweet noggy days. Then the government takes it away again.” I will totally pour eggnog on my cereal.

3) The Fame kids are snowed in. This was totally a Baby-Sitter’s Club Super Special (it hasn’t been recapped yet at BSC Headquarters. (Those were the extra-long ones with chapters narrated by alternating girls, as opposed to the normal ones, which were from the perspective of one particular sitter.) Jessi was even stuck at her dance school! I bet Ann M. Martin watched Fame, even if she cut out the teen pregnancy storyline.

UPDATE: 4) Ugh, it’s Lucille Ball day on TCM. Lucy’s not really in any movies that are considered “classic,” except maybe Stage Door, in which she’s a pretty minor character and it is awesome because of Ginger Rogers, Katharine Hepburn and, to a lesser degree, Eve Arden. According to the website, it’s actually Lucille Ball Month. Come on TCM, you can do better than that. I could do better than that. I would be an awesome classic film network programmer.

I hearby declare today snow day, the funnest day in the history of Springfield

Last night and today, I am experiencing for my first time the joy of Vancouver snow. It started yesterday afternoon, with little teeny hardly counting, melting as soon as they touched the ground flakes, which is how I assumed it would stay.

Sometime around five, when we were buying movie tickets, it started up for real. I stood at the window for like, ever, waiting for Alex to finish in the bathroom at the Metrotown Silvercity, watching snow fall on the parking lot and being so happy to see real snow that I wanted to cry. A screening of Happy Feet let out and I was suddenly surrounded by kids saying “Cool, snow!” and asking their parents if they could go tobaggoning. On the Skytrain, we overheard a cellphone conversation that went something like “Do you have four-wheel drive? Can you come pick us up?”

Things got hilarious when we headed home and the first fifteen to twenty minutes of the 11:00 news was taken up by snow-related stories: did you know people get into car accidents when it snows? Or that the first snowfall of the season means that upwards of ten people will be in line at the tire place to get winter tires put on?

Today, when we woke up and it was still snowing, we headed out for a Main Street snow walk:

Alex makes a snowball

Tree, with (surprise) snow on it

Snowy bush, again

Snow makes everything pretty. There are a few more where that came from.

I seriously didn’t know how much I missed snow until I realized this would all be gone in a couple days.

My love is a mountain high

Alex: I know you better than you know yourself. Me: Prove it. …Ask me something about myself that I don’t know and you know. Alex: How wide is your love for me? Me: How…wide? Alex: Two hundred metres. Me: Two hundred metres? Alex: That is twice the length of an Olympic sprinting track. Someone could run across it in 20 seconds. Well, an Olympic sprinter could. Me: That’s not very wide. I was going to say, like, “as wide as the seas.” Alex: As deep as the seas. Me: No, the seas are wide. You know, “the ocean wide.” Two hundred metres is nothing compared to the ocean. You couldn’t run across the ocean in 20 seconds. Alex: Well, you couldn’t run across it in 20 seconds. Me: You don’t know, that’s not that far. I can run pretty fast. Alex: But you would spill your latte!

Consumer = me

I haven’t actually bought anything for myself, besides food, books, and tights (with a shockingly ineffective waistband, but that’s another story) since I moved to Vancouver, mainly because I haven’t found anything I liked for an amount that I was able to pay.

Today, however, we found out where the deals are: Burnaby! Who knew? We went to Burnaby because fancy shoe store Ingledew’s has a clearance centre out there. Alex found a pair of really sweet brown shoes, which meant we got a second pair half off. I found the best. shoes. ever. Black suede, round-toed pumps, with a t-strap. They are not very practical for Vancouver, but they were originally $150, now priced at $75, which wound up being $37.50 after the discount.

Then we went down the street to Winner’s, where I found the elusive gorgeous name-brand sweater for a fraction of the price, which is what Winner’s wants you to think happens all the time, but almost never actually does. It’s a BCBG Max Azria red v-neck, with black embroidered, like, vines all up one sleeve and shoulder, but just a bit at the wrist on the other side. Oh, and there are rhinestones in the flowers on the vines, but it’s really cute, not tacky. Cost to me: $49.95. There was a BCBG tag hanging off the sweater that said $140.

(Because of my unwieldy describing, a photo. I always forget I have a webcam.)

New Sweater!

The point is: I like buying things. I’ve been reading all this Marxist theory lately about how insidious capitalism is, but it feels so good to consume!


Last night we were going to go see Borat at the Paramount, but when we got there at 6:40, the 6:55 and the 7:40 were sold out. The only non-horrible thing we hadn’t seen yet was Babel, which was also sold out.

So, because when I set my mind to seeing a movie, I am seeing a danged movie, even if it is completely different from the movie I’d planned on, we wound up running back down to Granville, where we slipped into the almost-empty 6:45 The Science of Sleep. Which, you guys? Was so great. It was charming and sad, a little dark, and hilarious. Everyone went so gaga over Eternal Sunshine, I’m surprised this hasn’t had more buzz.

When I said something to that effect after we left the theatre, Alex replied “Maybe because it’s partly in French, with bits of Spanish.” This is probably true.

Seriously though?

The movie’s like that, minus the Death Cab or whatever song. Most of the reviews I read for it were like “gorgeous, so much whimsy, but not so much with the focused story.” Which I guess, but it’s a nice break, after Fight Club and The Departed, to see something that doesn’t hold on so tight. Narratively speaking.


What I’m trying to say is that I’ve yet to see much evidence that Vancouver is somehow a better place to live, in any meaningful way. People kept saying it was nicer, but maybe it’s nicer for the type of people that people I know would know? More pleasant? Laid back? So what? [...] What about the mountains? So one hikes. One could have hiked in Toronto, or nearby. Is it the proximity that makes it nice? It’s nicer because it’s easier? Because it’s easier to be nice? One hears about how nice Vancouver is to live in, and for the lucky ones maybe it is, but I don’t understand how that translates to better. There is something objectively wrong with this city, and in the face of that one is countered with attitude.

Alex on Vancouver.

I’m quoting so heavily because he managed to capture what I haven’t been able to write about the city. The honeymoon was over when we took the bus across East Hastings, but that was what tore it for me. I started a post about that day partially composed, the way there were just throngs of people milling around the sidewalk with their shopping carts outside these abandoned storefronts, but the whole thing just came out sordid and naive.

It’s like no one gets the irony of living a stone’s throw away from a Main & Hastings and feeling like a great citizen of the world because you buy Fair Trade Coffee and organic produce. I’m all for ethical consumerism, but I don’t have any illusions that it’s not still just consumerism. Alex does a better job than I could with the bizarre study in socio-economic contrasts that we’ve landed ourselves in.

Even Annie Hall got sick of California eventually.

Sweeter than Shirley Temple dipped in pudding. What songs on your iPod would have their grooves worn down if they were vinyl singles?
Dohring: Hmm… what I’m listening to now? “You’re Beautiful” by James Blunt, “All These Things that I’ve Done” by The Killers, Sugarland’s “Baby Girl.”… Oh, and I love Johnny Cash’s “Sunday Morning Coming Down.”

Jason Dohring has kind of shitty taste in music. Logan Echolls would never listen to James Blunt.

In other vaguely Veronica Mars-related news, I finally got Alex to sit down and watch the Reefer Madness musical Kristen Bell has a (pretty major) part in. I was kind of worried it wouldn’t be as good as I wanted to be, but I was pleasantly surprised.

The Jesus-as-lounge-singer musical number was comedy gold. Robert Torti, the actor who did it, had the persona down pat. It was kind of like the last number in All That Jazz only it took place in heaven and starred Jesus. So that was a plus.

We also made it out to see the aforementioned Brick. After seeing it, I can say that I really really liked it, and that it really wasn’t that similar to Veronica Mars except for doing the noir thing in a high school milieu. Joseh Gordon-Levitt — who I always kind of liked on Third Rock — was perfect doing the young noir hero, who knows he’s going to make a lot of trouble, but doesn’t really care, because he’s got a job to do. It’s gotten mixed reactions for the dialogue — it’s this weird patois of old movie slang, teenspeak, and totally made up stuff — and the whole thing could have played as really full of itself if the performances hadn’t been so natural and committed to the movie’s not-in-any-way-realistic diegesis. It’s maybe not for everyone, because it’s a film that’s very much in its own world, but it’s a modern version of a Maltese Falcon, Marlowe-ish world that I’ve spent a lot (I mean a lot) of time and love quite a lot.

I did some other stuff this weekend, like sleep in a lot, make pancakes, avoid doing my laundry, and watch a some of Trekkies, which led Alex and I to argue on the subway about the date of DeForest Kelley’s passing (1999) and when Voyager started airing (1995). Because contrary to popular belief, we are not hipsters, but dorks, down to our very cores.

I’m gonna hear bells ring

This was originally meant to be posted Monday, but I figure it is still Valen-week. Plus I got held up making Chocolate Chili Bites for Alex. (And me.) (I would use more chili than recommended. I used ground ancho chilis and 1 1/2 tsp was definitely not enough kick. Maybe French chili powder is better.)

When I first thought about posting a VD mix, I immediately dismissed it. “I like new wave and torch songs!” I said. “My iTunes library has no happy love songs!” As many of you know, my music collection isn’t exactly full of Josh Groban ballads; my taste in music runs to the angry (see Costello, Elvis – The early years), the sardonic (see Mountain Goats, The), the ironic (see Fields, Magnetic), the angrily feminist (see Tigre, Le), and the mopily, obnoxiously indie (see Fantasy, Final and countless others). The actual lovey songs I have are either ironic, tired by this point, or mainly there for their peppy Motown beat.

But I like a challenge. It didn’t take long before I came up with a list that actually made me think about love; and even though it’s no longer as timely and some of the songs kind of border on cheese territory — I am looking at you Hawksley — I wanted to share them with you, the reader.

  1. I’m Gonna Love You Too – Blondie
  2. God Only Knows – Petra Haden
  3. Safe and Sound – Hawksley Workman
  4. And Darling – Tegan and Sara
  5. No Need To Cry – Neko Case
  6. Oh Boy! – Buddy Holly
  7. Dream A Little Dream Of Me – Ella Fitzgerald (feat. Count Basie)
  8. Apple Blossom – The White Stripes
  9. Of Angels and Angles – The Decemberists
  10. Oh! – Sleater-Kinney
  11. The Way You Look Tonight – Fred Astaire
  12. The Reasons – The Weakerthans
  13. Midnight Sun – Ella Fitzgerald

I guess 13 is a weird number of songs. But you know. Limited resources.

Valentine’s Day was pretty good. It involved a recipe from Thirty Minute Meals, which tasted good and was low on fuss to prepare. Also, it was a vodka-tomato-cream sauce out of which much of the alcohol do not cook. So, being the lightweights that we now are, Alex and were rather tipsy by the time our pasta was done, even though we hadn’t finished our (fucking) merlot.

I hope everyone ate something heart-shaped yesterday.

Whatever it is, it’s just great

Alex and I didn’t really have anything to do on Saturday, so we decided to head down to Clafouti for a coffee and croissant, then to go exploring. It was a reasonably nice day, and really, I just wanted coffee.

I was going to take a picture of my chocolate-almond croissant, but it was so good I literally could not stop eating it for long enough to photograph it. Also, I had coffee in my other hand.

We decided to walk east, so we could look at the furniture stores, then went south to King West, where, at least, we wouldn’t be spending money.

King Street West, a.k.a. the Land of Condos, is totally the least-Toronto-feeling neighbourhood that is in walking distance of my house.

It’s so weird.

There’s just this tower, in the middle of nowhere. And all these weird strip malls and condo developments, and no one walking down the street. At all.

We walked to Roncesvalles, which I love. We were getting cold, so we picked up some coffee at the Film Buff, a.k.a. My Dream Business, the Land of Coffee and Ice Cream and Movies arranged by Director. We found another She Said Boom, also.

Then, we walked by the Queen of Tarts. I dragged Alex in with zero hesitation. We came out with this:

We ate them when they were still too cold from outside.

We hit Oasis for dinner, on the theory that we should probably eat some real food, as we had already spent $20 on pastry and coffee; then we settled in to watch the excellent but depressing Ali: Fear Eats The Soul, a tale of the difficulties of interracial romance. In Germany. In 1974. They are both so lonely and sad.

When it ended, luckily, From Justin to Kelly was just starting. It is the kind of movie that you can only watch late at night over beer with your boyfriend, because you don’t want to go to bed after a bleak product of the New German Cinema. The best part is when the Smart Black Friend says to the Bitchy Southern Friend “Why are we even friends with you?” voicing the thoughts of the film’s entire audience.

Then I saw this on my way to the bank machine:

There are only two conservative signs on my block.

In other news, Alex and I saw the Jack Layton Express today, across the street from (my NDP candidate) Gord Perks’ campaign office. We couldn’t actually see Jack Layton, because of the bus and the crowd, but we did see a boom mike which Jack Layton was presumably standing under.

Has everybody caught election fever?! Seriously, who doesn’t vote anymore? Apathy is so over.

That’s amore

Today, Alex carried my laundry to the laundromat, then we made this baked ziti with sausage in my new casserole.

We basically stuck to the recipe, except we used 3 cloves of garlic instead of the powder, and threw in about 1/4 teaspoon of crushed red pepper flakes in the tomato sauce. We also cooked the sauce in the same pan we’d done the sausage in, because, more sausage flavour means everyone wins. Except my arteries, but whatever.

We did have salad with it.

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