29 July 2006

alternative dentistry


lots of people enroll in dentistry school every year for various reasons. some of them will never make good dentists because they are simply too clumsy to be trusted with the fine and intricate tools of the trade. now you know what happens to these people. (scariest part: these are pygmy hippos. they're nowhere near the size of the regular ones.)

28 July 2006

wide load

i could probably sue the cbc, because this morning, when i heard them reporting a story about how there is a growing medical crisis because many americans are too fat to be x-rayed, i started laughing and almost drove off the road. i'm linking to the story here, because it will be much safer for you to find out about it through the safety of the internet (at least, i'm assuming you're not drriving right now).

i had already heard about the problems being faced by airlines, who are having to accomodate heavier loads in the passenger cabin, but this is a new one. it's bad enough that there are instances where the x-rays can't penetrate the fatty tissue, but can you imagine what's happening with the mri machines? pretty soon, the preparation for these is going to include the nurse spraying patients down with pam to ensure they don't get stuck.

26 July 2006

it was difficult to fit in the postage metre

you know, things like this are probably the reason why post office workers end up going, well, postal.

i guess the fact that this is not illegal in germany is a reflection of the sad optimism of people there, who believe no one would actually be stupid enough to do it.

25 July 2006

check box mate

i am an unmarried woman who currently has a boyfriend.

i'd like you to take a few minutes to think about that because a lot of people, including the government of canada, seem to struggle to figure out what it means.

recently, i filled out the canadian census and was miffed to discover that there is no check box available for living with one's boyfriend. you are either married or you are "common law", meaning that if you're old enough to be living together it is generally assumed that you must have lapsed into a matrimonial state, because after the age of twenty, no one is comfortable with the idea that the relationship patterns you establish early on are more or less the same ones you have for the rest of your life. there is assumed to be something shameful about not being in a formally committed relationship.

my boss, for instance, struggles with what to call my boyfriend. he knows we're not married, so husband is incorrect, but he can't bring himself to use the correct term. so he calls him my fiance. when i point out that we are not ever getting married, he reverts to the endearing tag "your whatever you call him". b-o-y-f-r-i-e-n-d. it's not difficult, people.

i have nothing against the married. some of my best friends are married. i happen not to have followed that path. when i'm feeling confident, i believe that this is because i value my independence and i don't feel it necessary to make a formal commitment to anybody. when i'm wallowing in insecurity, i believe it is because i am unlikely to find someone who'd feel comfortable making that sort of formal commitment to me. (a keen observer would note that these are not mutually exclusive, but there's no need to engage in psychoanalysis here.)

whatever the reason, there is an almost tangible stigma to being single. in fact, people are so uncomfortable with those who choose to be single that they have difficulty referring to your relationship as anything but a marriage. apparently even the government gets edgy about it, because they won't let you choose the term that everyone has used since they were teenagers to refer to their significant other. if you're old enough to be filling out the census, you're too old for a boyfriend or girlfriend, apparently.

listen to me steve harper: no troops are going to die in afghanistan because you need more definition on my relationship. so quit giving me a set of little boxes with the words that make you comfortable. as a single person, no one is going to throw me a big party for not marrying the wrong guy. no one is going to remember to send me flowers on the anniversary of the date that i kicked a manipulative ex to the curb. the one advantage being unmarried affords you in today's society is that you are pretty much free to define or not define your relationships however you please. so next time you're writing up the census, i would like to suggest that you add another check box to your list of relationship definitions: none of your business.

22 July 2006

less than supernova


despite being mired in construction, the art gallery of ontario soldiers on, continuing to offer big-name exhibits like supernova a retrospective of early- to mid-sixties works by andy warhol, curated by david cronenberg. there's a lot of potential in this, given the various talents involved, but for some reason, it just doesn't come together.

the exhibition has great focus- images of sex, death and icons exclusively, exploiting a subconscious link between all three- but the focus means that it is fairly limited in size. that doesn't bother me- i'd rather spend my time viewing fewer works in more detail- but the fact that the exhibition has been promoted so heavily means that there is a large crowd stuffed into the two rooms allotted.

it doesn't help that the museum staff seem like they are there fulfilling a community service portion of a prison sentence. "do you want these or not?" is not the way to ask someone if they would like to use the audio guide for the exhibit, people. (i don't like audio guides, because i don't like walking through an exhibit feeling like i'm on my cell phone.) but even beyond that, and this is surprising, given the attention focused on the celebrity curator, the exhibit itself seems poorly organised.

my initial inclination was to give the ago the benefit of the doubt and assume that the look they were going for was a new york loft from the sixties- an open, stripped down setting, cluttered with art. but it's also distinctly possible that these are just the two rooms they could stick this in, with no frills, owing to the construction that's being done all around. even within the two rooms, there seems to be no discernable logic to the order of the pieces (perhaps i should have used the detestable audio guide) and, most bizarre, cronenberg chose to exclude warhol's films almost entirely from the exhibit. (in fact, probably the most interesting piece in the exhibit is the series of "screen tests" by stars of the mainstream and underground, where each sits, silently, in front of a camera for four minutes, trying not to look uncomfortable with the artificiality of the situation.)

it's a good enough experience for the warhol enthusiast, but other may be left wanting a little more.

19 July 2006

have a ball

a devil's ball, that is.

wladyslaw starewicz, born in what is now vilnius, lithuania (making him at once lithuanian, polish and russian) began his career a decade before walt disney began purveying the wonders of animation to the masses. although he insisted that his films were meant for children, it's hard to imagine what would result from exposing young ones to too much of the like of this.

for adults, his stop-motion films prefigure tim burton and are still technically impressive by today's standards.

13 July 2006

business unusual

normally, when i'm sent out on assignment to the sort of place where women don't have to change their family name when they marry their husbands, the worst thing that i fear is encounters with the people who played the extras in deliverance. but i have news.

the back woods are transforming. now, when i'm sent to these places, i'm noticing more and more that the people who inhabit them look like they come out of ads for the gap. the are clean and groomed. and they all look, speak, act, dress and think exactly the same. they all have the same slightly glazed, slightly vapid, slightly dead look in their eye that betrays the lack of higher cerebral function inside.

i'm not prone to paranoia, but there is no equivalent term in the english language for a rational fear. while we aren't looking, the body snatchers have invaded. in the back woods, where we all fear to tread, a generation of clones is being bred to take over the world. they'll come for you next.

09 July 2006

eat the cup, part 12- i will refuse

i now remember why i don't follow sports. it's not that it's anaesthetic for the masses (which it is). it's not that these events are magnets for the kind of might is right jocks who i hate (which they are). it's that, no matter what anyone says, they aren't fair. sporting events are supposed to be the apogee of fair combat- equally matched opponents fighting it out, the champion being the one who is able to marshall the skills and the wits to eke out a victory.

except that it doesn't work that way.

1. deciding games on penalty kicks is bullshit.

strangely, i've discovered that i have fairly strong opinions on this subject. if you have two teams, well-matched, they should bloody well play until somebody wins or somebody dies. everything in the course of play of the world cup final dictated a french win. even when playing a man down, they clearly outclassed their favoured opponents. with penalty kicks. you have men who are trained to score goals shooting at a giant open target with one poor sod standing in the middle of it having to make his best guess as to what way the ball is going before the kicker makes a move. neither goalkeeper stopped a single one of the shots taken.

2. power concentrated is power corrupted

i'm not usually one to resort to this kind of thing, but the referee clearly sucked ass. i'm not saying this because it was the same ref who basically cost england their quarterfinal match. i will allow that that call was deserved. but he clearly missed a couple of vicious attacks by the italians that should have, in a fair match, resulted in penalty kicks for the french squad. considereing that they buried the only penalty kick they were awarded, it stands to reason that those missed calls were the difference in the game.

3. the underdog gets screwed

come on. the french team were booed off the field by their own fans in their last game before the tournament. they made it out of the first round bascally on luck and what do they do? they turn into the classiest team on the field, playing with the kind of heart that normally resides only in hollywood movie scripts. how much heart? i live with someone who went into this tournament saying that he didn't care who won (although he had his favourite), as long as it wasn't the french. as we were watching the opening of the game today, i was astonished to see him turn jubilant when france got their one penalty shot six minutes in and remain on the side of "les bleus" for the rest of the game. playing hard apparently can win over even your most virulent enemies, but it doesn't win you games. instead, what apparently allows you to win is playing dirty and faking injuries. not exactly a great lesson.

so in theory, tonight's dinner should be italian. at the least, it should be franco-italian fusion. but tonight, i don't feel like cooking. i once again feel like standing on my balcony and throwing rocks at the cars going by with their horns ablaze. which, ironically, brings me back to the point where i was eight years ago at the first world cup i paid attention to. i think i'll be ordering take out.

and so, the circle is complete.

ps- zizou, what the f*@k were you thinking???

06 July 2006

brain food

amidst all the cup talk going on here, i realised that it's time for something a little more substantial. metafilter posted links today to a debate between intellectual giants noam chomsky and michel foucault.

i do agree somewhat with the comment that they fall into the trap (both in these segments and in their respective writings) of becoming almost incomprehensible, barricaded as they are behind their wall of academic bafflegab (academics would say that they are seeking language which is as precise as possible), but their arguments do shine through.

and in the age of bill o'reilly, fox news and henry rollins' new concubine, it's nice to see that the media aren't always simply conveyers of pap for the lowest common denominator.

05 July 2006

eat the cup, part 11: fratugal

that word looks vaguely rude, i must say.

i don't know how i've avoided touching on the cuisine of a country virtually synonymous with gastronomy for the entire tournament, but tonight is france's night up, with a little help from portugal. tonight is bouillabaisse night chez kate. long one of my very favourite dishes, i chose to include not only the traditional fish, tomatoes and truckloads of garlic, but also a little bit of portuguese chorico, a few sardines and a little paprika and cloves (key flavours in their cuisine, apparently). the result is quite enjoyable, a little heavier than usual (blame the sausage) and (don't tell any famous french chefs) pretty simple to prepare.

today's ride home was surprisingly restrained. aside from a handful of chefs with michelin stars and a lot of wine, the french don't seem to have exported themselves (quebec aside) in the same way as the italians and the portuguese. (i should also add that one frenchman i met denied any knowledge of exported french wines, saying he wouldn't touch the stuff they let out of the country). on the way home, there was only one truck, granted with about 700 small flags, out to support the winning side.

in a way, i dislike today's results. i don't have strong feelings about the teams, but i was looking forward to two things:

1. if france had lost, they would have had to play germany in the so-called "third place" match (also known as the "who shall retain a shred of dignity" match), which would doubtless have set up some war-related malapropisms in the next day's headlines.

2. if portugal had won, i would have been able to get front row seats for canada's first civil war, at ground zero (also known as college street). italian restaurants smashed up against portuguese groceries, the scene heavy with barely restrained pandemonium.

as it is, the final two games are setting up some interesting culinary challenges. for portugal versus germany, it may be hard to get the flavours to mesh together. for italy versus france, i may just eat some garlic and be done with it.

04 July 2006

eat the cup, part 10: gertaly

and we’re back. after a weekend in new york enjoying other people’s cooking (and other people’s perspectives on the world cup, as it turns out), it occured to me that the semi-final and final rounds of the cup deserve something a little different. fusion.

so for the coming games, i am going to find ways of combining the two national cuisines of the teams playing. tonight: gertaly.

this evening’s supper featured a risotto, prepared with some onions (the basis of all italian cuisine) broth and sausage. in this case a combination of bratwurst and hot italian sausage, just to be fair. at the end, i swirled in just a little german mustard, to add a different kind of flavour. i have to say... worked out pretty well.

as increasingly happens, today’s battle was pretty epic and ended in the most dramatic fashion possible- a goal in the last minute of the last overtime period. of course, if it were a hollywood drama, the goal would have gone to the home team, so the cameras wouldn’t be forced to pan across thousands of devastated faces, their tears streaking through the black, red and gold of their face paint.

back at home, things are a little different. granted, there have been a couple of cars i’ve seen driving in the last few weeks with flags that would dwarf the reichstag, but in general, the germans haven’t been representing in the same way as their southern opposites. the drive home tonight was the loudest i’v ever experienced. i was surrounded at all points by italian flags and blaring horns (although, mercifully, the noise near my actual home was minimal). most bizarre, there was at least one car that drove past me with a flag displayed ACROSS THE WINDSHIELD. it’s almost too stereotypical: passionate but not particularly wise.
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