30 August 2011

the best places to do it in public

ok, this is a post indulging my public transit geekery, just so you know.

could anything be as awesome as this looks?
since i featured the montreal by metro web site in last week's friday favourites, it got me to thinking that i haven't really posted much about this subject, despite the fact that it's one i think about every single day.

i think about it every day because i have opted not to be a driver. i've even let my license lapse, which is a sure way to get looked at like there's something profoundly wrong with you [i usually just try to work that]. i've certainly driven regularly in the past and i admit that i find it convenient that dom has a car [and a license] for certain times when one is really a necessity, but the fact is that being able to get around without a car is quite important to me.

it's simple, in my mind, really. i choose to live in cities. i do that because i like the feeling of proximity to the things and people i want or need to see regularly. if i wanted to feel isolated [and sometimes i do] and i wanted every interaction to be something that required time and planning, i'd live in the country. but spontaneity and flexibility are important to me and so i choose to live in places where those things are supposed to be easy. you wouldn't think that that automatically marked me as some kind of suspected terrorist, but you'd be wrong. telling someone in a north american city [with one exception] that you don't drive elicits kind of the same reaction as telling them that you're retarded. on the plus side, it's also a really easy way to detect morons that life throws in your pathway, because anyone who treats you like less of a person because you don't drive and/ or own a car is someone worth going out of your way to avoid.

29 August 2011

mental health mondays :: that other problem

with the stigma and the difficulty finding/ holding a job and the people telling you that you're making it up and the reduced life expectancy and the weird side effects of the drugs and the possibility that you could be put in a hospital against your will, life with a mental illness or disorder can get pretty miserable. so it might not come as a surprise that those with serious mental disorders often choose to self-medicate. of course, that ends up meaning that people who already have the odds stacked against them are then saddled with addictions, or with habits that can exacerbate their original problems.

yes, this is a sign that you're crazy
one of the most curious and best-documented correlations is between schizophrenia and smoking. smokers generally account for only about a quarter of the population in most western countries, however studies consistently find that smoking is far more prevalent among schizophrenics- as high as 80-90%. scariest of all, no one can explain why. in fact, while some have theorised that it may help moderate the symptoms of schizophrenia, it appears that nicotine actually interferes with the absorption of anti-psychotic medications, meaning that smokers need to take more of the drugs than non-smokers [that tiny, lucky minority]. of course, it doesn't help that quitting smoking can actually worsen the symptoms of schizophrenia. think your three weeks of irritability and 15lb weight gain was a hassle? picture it when you have a family of invisible squatters in your brain who suddenly start shouting at you.

of course, the trick here is that no one has been able to discover why schizophrenics start smoking in the first place. all we know is that a lot of them do smoke and that it's probably one of the things [along with increased suicide rates and medication-induced obesity] that results in those diagnosed with schizophrenia having a 12-15% shorter life span than "the normals".

the weather's not the biggest problem

first things first: i hope that, if you're reading this and you were in the path of any part of hurricane/ tropical storm irene, that you made it through safely and without the loss of anything important to you.

 irene didn't look like this, but it could have
second, i really hope [although i'm not stupid, so i know it's not going to happen] that news organisations like cnn [i know fox was worse, but no one really expects any real journalism from them anyway, right?] take the opportunity on monday morning to issue a big, fat apology to their viewers about the nature of their coverage.

seriously. what were you guys thinking?

i do remember back in 2005, having my cynical mind blown by the coverage of hurricane katrina, while the powers that were tried to pretend like it was no big deal [and, now that i think of it, that included fox news]. i saw anderson cooper's fabled meltdown at mary landrieu live and wondered what had possessed the media that they'd suddenly located their collective testicles. but now, every time a storm threatens any part of the continental united states, i get this uncomfortable feeling, not just because i think that there are a lot of people in the media who'd prefer a disaster [we've known that for years], but because the increasingly hysterical coverage is now actually interfering with people getting the information they need to stay safe. [i'll say that the one piece of information i did have was the time when the new york subway system was shutting down. that i knew. it was approximately five hours earlier than the time people were to have evacuated low-lying areas of the city.]

26 August 2011

friday favourites :: 26.08.11

well, we lost jack layton this week and there's a hurricane bearing down on the east coast that looks set to inflict some serious damage, so this truly isn't the best week to think of favourites. on the other hand, as i sit here at my desk, observing a sky so grey and dreary, i realise that it's probably one of those times when thinking of the things that help boost your spirits is that much more important. so think of something that made you smile this week and join me for a quick look at the things that kept my chin up...

wiki works :: further to my comments on christie blatchford, the national post and why the media was so quick to condemn jack layton [original, post-election observations here], it does please me to know that the sports writer-turned-political-commentator won't find it so easy to put that debacle behind her. some thoughtful person saw fit to edit her wikipedia entry to include mention of the controversy over her remarks. the system works. [others have not been so kind.]

MORE FAVOURITES AND THE CAT PIC OF THE WEEK AFTER THE BREAK...

25 August 2011

the bad bedtime story

poets and perverts, pranksters and princes, issue 12 of paraphilia is now available for your perusing pleasure.

there's even a contribution from yours truly in there on the nonfiction side. i had the opportunity to speak to the mind behind pere ubu, the legendary david thomas, about his projects new and old.

enjoy at your leisure although, as always, unlikely to be safe for work.

24 August 2011

and now the bad news...

i have to admit, the depth and breadth of the national sadness over the death of jack layton kind of caught me by surprise. in an era when the the death of a politician is generally seen as a synonym for "good riddance", it's shocking to see people, supporters and non-supporters, so inconsolable over the loss of someone most knew only through his [frequent] appearances on their television sets. obviously, there was something about layton with which people felt a connection. in a profession that is normally viewed as the antithesis of honesty and integrity, layton apparently came off as having both.

i am not particularly surprised that national post writer christie blatchford was quick to jump in and deride the sentiments expressed as mawkish and overwrought- a "public spectacle" [although she sadly doesn't explain how one can express any emotion in public without making a spectacle]- and to dismiss the letter he wrote two days before he died as "sophistry". desperate to reassure canadians that 'there's nothing to see here', her argument is that because layton, less than 48 hours from death, dared to have others close to him help him write his last missive, that this is a hallmark of insincerity and clear evidence that he was possessed to the end by an all-powerful ambition. [i have to say that his words don't give me any clue as to what exactly he was ambitious for in what he clearly knew were his final hours, but i suppose that blatchford and her ilk would deem that this makes me part of the naive masses, perpetually in need of their leadership.]

i say i'm not surprised because, as distasteful as it might seem to heap insult on a man before his body is cool and on those who openly admit that the loss means something to them, i could not foresee a circumstance in which media outlets like the national post [or the globe and mail, or any of canada's corporate-annointed media elite] could bring themselves to say anything positive about layton. after all, to them he's like the socially inferior ex who still managed to make a fool of them.

even those who have had positive things to say about layton, like interim liberal leader bob rae [who has no business leveling accusations of glibness or insincerity at anybody], are quick to point out that, from the moment he was elected leader of the ndp, layton was a camera hog. he'd stop in front of a pack of tourists if it looked like they were filming. the thing that many in the media don't want to admit is that his technique worked. yes, he would talk to anyone with a camera, but that meant that he became exceptionally good at getting time on air to communicate his message. and, yes, it did often seem like he was speaking in sound bites. which would then end up getting on the news, which lives on sound bites after all.

rather than treating the press as powerful, he treated them as a conduit, a method to get his message out- as a medium. and, as we witnessed this past spring, over time, it worked. more people heard his message and started to pay attention. while the national media insisted that his poll numbers were a bubble that would explode come election day, the results proved their most highly qualified pundits wrong and all those superior folk at the globe and the national post had to face the awful truth: jack layton had used them. he'd taken advantage of their microphones, their cameras, their broadcast and print power and used them to get people to pay attention to what he was saying. i'll bet that stung like a hive of angry bees.

so, no, it doesn't surprise me that the likes of christie blatchford are queuing to dance on his grave, but i'd like to point out that they still haven't managed to stamp out the public reaction to his death, nor erase the impression made by that infuriating letter- at once so uplifting and statesmanlike.

although i'm generally not moved to any sort of display of public emotion myself [fear of spectacle], i do have to admit that i actually felt choked up when i read jack layton's last public words:

"My friends, love is better than anger. Hope is better than fear. Optimism is better than despair. So let us be loving, hopeful and optimistic. And we’ll change the world."

most people wouldn't say something like that, because it seems almost hopelessly naive. in fact, when he first emerged on the national scene, some of layton's own party members did think he was hopelessly naive. which is an odd contrast to the slick, ambitious, canny political animal the media would convince us he was.

ultimately, it seems like layton was a combination of those things- someone with ideals who knew how to make things happen on the ground- and i think that part of the grief at his loss is that, secretly, that's kind of what we want our politicians to be; strong enough in their ideals that we know where they stand, but not so rigid that we're forever stuck standing still.

there will be many, many people in years to come to dissect the strengths and weaknesses of jack layton as a person and a politician, but i do hope that they will always conclude with his own conclusion: it is better to be loving than angry, it is better to be hopeful than to live in fear and it is most certainly better to be optimistic than to despair. those are things that are important to remember, never more so than when an optimistic voice is silenced and the vultures of anger and fear swoop in to write their obituaries.

22 August 2011

mental health mondays :: what's so bad about drugs?

this won't hurt a bit
years ago, i had a friend who was schizophrenic. i knew this, but i can't say that anything really leaped out at me that marked his behaviour as different. he was soft-spoken and a little bit eccentric, perhaps, but that made him seem a lot like the majority of people i knew. so his condition was just something of which i was aware, but it didn't seem to have much of an impact on our interaction.

then one day, i got a call from a mutual friend, asking me to come with her to see him, because he'd apparently opted to stop taking his medication. we talked to him for what seemed like a long, frustrating time, listening to his theories on why those who would force him to take medication were really just trying to force his brain to work along certain lines, to stop him from being able to think in ways that weren't orthodox. flaunting my recently acquired knowledge of the causes of schizophrenia [this was in the days before google, so not everyone knew everything], i reassured him that the medications were merely redressing a type of chemical imbalance in the brain, not forcing him to think in any particular way at all.

i remember that he looked at me without any sort of anger, but rather the way that teachers do when they have a student who's a little slow catching on. "that's what they tell you," he explained, "because you wouldn't accept just hearing that the way you were thinking wasn't what they wanted. so they tell you it's because you have a chemical imbalance, or whatever."

ladies and gentlemen, there is no response to that argument. at the time, of course, i smiled in my condescending way and indulged him- it's not like, even at his most unhinged, he ever seemed in the least bit dangerous- while quietly remaining convinced that i was right. i still don't think that my argument was wrong, but in retrospect, i do wish i'd taken the opposite approach and asked him that, given that he normally seemed happier and more relaxed than he did at that moment, what was so bad about the drugs that he felt he had to stop taking them.

21 August 2011

the clamour for closure

i have a real penchant for stories- in books, in movies, in television, anything- that have a well-done open ending. there's something so exquisitely frustrating and inspiring about working your way through something, letting yourself be drawn into its characters, story and world only to be denied a clear resolution at the very end.

one of my favourite books in the world, thomas pynchon's "the crying of lot 49" has [and i don't mean to spoil this for anyone] one of the most outrageous examples of this i've come across. i remember well the look on the face of the first person who i ever convinced to read the book when he got to the end [i was thrilled to be in the room at the time], a sort of bewildered, wounded expression of disbelief, trying to figure out of i'd maliciously ripped some pages out of the back or if that really was how the story ended.

it's a swift and brutal thing and its magic, of course, is that part of our mind is tricked into believing that the story doesn't end, but that we simply lose out access to it. we're left like diane keaton in first two godfather movies, tensely watching as the door is closed in her face, knowing that the drama continues behind it. on the one hand, it's frustrating that we're suddenly left out, having been privy to so much of the story to that point. on the other, it sets our own imaginations free to think of what could have been.

not everyone likes being invited to dream. a few years back, when "the sopranos" ended on a shockingly vague note, the public reaction had me thinking that there were going to be riots, or at the very least that the show's producers were going to have to be put under armed guard until the furor died down. i never even followed "the sopranos" with any kind of regularity, but that closing scene still strikes me as one of the most fiendishly brilliant things ever foisted on a mass audience.

WANT TO KNOW HOW THIS ENDS?

making faces :: product review [mac "mac me over" collection]

"Delicious autumn!  My very soul is wedded to it, and if I were a bird I would fly about the earth seeking the successive autumns."  ~George Eliot

that quote about sums me up when it comes to seasonal preferences. i love autumn. i love the gradual fade from late summer heat to first frost. i love the transformation from deep green to a multiplicity of flaming colours. and i love what happens to fashion and cosmetics, because, while i have grown to appreciate the softer tones of spring and the bold hues of summer, i've always been most at home in the rich, dark shades that abound in the fall. i'll always take the smoky eyes and vampy lips that abound in the third quarter of the year, given my choice. 


every year in mid-to-late august, mac cosmetics launches the first of their major fall collections and it's no accident that my two personal favourites are from that time. in 2008, you had the earthy, ultra-dark, stewed fruit shades in "cult of cherry", which, to me, was mac's high water mark as a company. a close second, though, was 2010's "fabulous felines" [a cat-themed collection? for me???] which, while a little more restrained in its colour palette, offered a wonderful range of products for virtually every skin tone and taste. in both of those cases, i purchased a lot of products. i probably single-handedly improved mac's third quarter earnings. and, lest you think i'm a hopeless sap for seasonal marketing, i still consistently reach for the products i bought from both collections with surprising frequency. 

l to r :: mythical, satin taupe
"mac me over" is this year's entry into the "welcome to fall" collection sweepstakes. framing the launch story is a contest mac ran last year [only in the u.s.], where everyday folk were invited to submit photos of themselves and to complete the sentence "mac me over because..." [strangely, "... i know where you live", which would have been my response, doesn't seem to have been popular.] six winners were chosen from among thousands of submissions and they are the faces of the "mac me over" launch campaign. 


when i first saw the photos, i think i felt my wallet tremble. the images are a wonderful kaleidoscope of the faces you see on the subway every day remade into megawatt fashion icons. on close inspection, the selection of models does smack of tokenism- only one "model" is not in her twenties, only one is african american, one is asian, one is a man, one is heavier, etc.- but the great "before & after" imagery does wonders to illustrate that we all have a potential fashion model inside us, waiting to be "mac'd over". so does the collection live up to the presentation? 

19 August 2011

friday favourites :: 19.08.11

i took a bit of a blog vacation last week since i had a friend visiting and i do love showing off montreal to visitors. the weather was cooperative and it gave me the chance to explore parts of the city i don't get to often enough [because i'm not a tourist]. it also gave my brain a much-needed rest from routine and worry to just spend some time with someone i missed. as a result, much of the later part of this week has been spent between taking care of mundane things and feeling a little nostalgic, as i'm sure most of us do from time to time. here are a few things that perked me up.

meet the "burning margarita"
la distillerie :: a friend and i happened upon this place quite by accident not that long after it first opened. they now have three montreal locations where you can imbibe their unbelievable cocktails, either in regular glasses or, if you're feeling especially thirsty, in large mason jars. they have a set group of specialty cocktails that are always available and have three monthly specials that are always changing. [those generally feature a particular alcohol or brand. august is tequila month!] they use good quality hooch, too, so the cocktails aren't necessarily designed to disguise what it is that you're consuming. the imaginative combinations [i guarantee there will be at least a few that will make you scratch your head] include things that taste like root beer floats, but also things that taste like pure, distilled fire if you like things a little stronger. for those who prefer to keep things more basic, there's also a decent selection of beer and cider. the only trick is that the one that we usually go to- in the quartier latin area- gets packed pretty quickly, so it helps if you can get there close to their 4 p.m. opening time to secure some real estate. dom swears by the rock-a-rula. i'm a fan of the white lady, but i always have to try the specials.

MORE FAVOURITES PLUS YOUR WEEKLY CAT PIC AFTER THE BREAK...


16 August 2011

here be pirates

several years back, i can't remember how, i happened upon a web site for "pirate cat radio". it's entirely possible that i was just randomly googling things about pirates and cats and came to their site totally by accident, but considering my interest in small-scale media of various sorts, i think it's more likely that i was trawling the internet for upstarts in san francisco, a city i like and have visited on a few occasions. i suspect, however, that it's moniker, combining as it does, two things that i love, probably made me a little bit more prone to investigating what they had to offer.

i actually became somewhat of a regular listener to their feed, which i found refreshingly human and grounded, compared to the endless parade of faceless web radio shows that give you whatever kind of music you want, but lack any sense of connection to anything except the internet. don't get me wrong- i like places where i can discover music and not have someone yakking at me about the inherent awesomeness of everything i'm hearing, but i also like getting a sense of a community, not in the sense of a group of people congregating around a common interest, but in the actual, physical sense of community where people from a diversity of backgrounds, with different philosophies, goals and values try to make a go of living in the same geographical space.

pirate cat was the real deal, an actual unlicensed station using the public airwaves [and an internet stream] to play music, inform people about news and events in the community and beyond and quietly exploit a loophole in the laws regarding the right to broadcast. the station hung tough for years, despite regularly receiving ominous missives from the federal communications commission ordering them to cease and desist. eventually, they even opened a cafe in the same space as their on air studio, which gave them a visible presence in the community and even tempted the likes of anthony bourdain to come and try their strangely canadian-sounding "bacon maple latte".

where all the people go?

the prettified lachine canal, rising from its ruins
this past weekend, i got to spend a few days doing something that i'd forgotten i enjoy: playing tour guide.

of course, it helps when you're doing this during the summer, since showing people around montreal in january can be deeply unpleasant, but it was a good opportunity for me to ponder how much the urban core of the city has flourished since i first moved her fifteen years ago. although it's far from perfect, i'm quite proud of the work done to keep montreal's centre strong. yes, there are increasing numbers of people fleeing for the suburbs and there are social issues that accompanying gentrification of any neighbourhood, but downtown montreal [and the plateau and mile end and the old city] have blossomed from some roots that looked pretty dubious when i first laid eyes on them.

reinvented offices in old montreal
one of the reasons that i appreciate this is because i've lived in two other cities that seem strangely indifferent, if not outright hostile to their downtown hubs. although there will always be things going on in the centre of toronto, the city seems determined to do what it can to make it as difficult as possible to get in and around, while i'm consistently deflated when i visit halifax to see the stretches along main thoroughfares dwindle while businesses decamp for suburban industrial parks.

there are reasons for these urban declines: toronto's suburban population massively outnumbers those in the city and, in every electoral issue, their voices will dominate; halifax's awkward geography makes it difficult to get traffic into the city centre and years of socially suspect urban planning have created barriers to better city living.

i'm a fan of cities and of the diversity that urban culture tends to bring. nothing against the country, but for someone who's imaginative, liberal and easily bored, i've found the urban environment to be a healthy match. and i'm glad to know that montreal, despite its considerable shortcomings in other areas [*cough*] has done things like make the lachine canal into a walkable/ bike-able urban oasis. i'm always curious to hear what other cities are doing and what they're doing better. in canada, approximately 80% of the population lives in urban areas, which means that we'd all better start learning from the success stories as quickly as we can.

15 August 2011

mental health mondays :: seeing things [or hearing, or feeling or smelling...]

if you had to pick one symptom that most western-world dwellers could agree is a sure sign of having the crazies, it would be hallucinating- a sensory perception or response in the absence of a real-world stimulus. "hearing voices" or being instructed to do things by voices is one of the most common cultural tropes about insanity in the contemporary world, since david berkowitz decided to try to implicate his neighbour's dog...

hundreds of years ago, people who had hallucinations were heralded as religious leaders. or condemned as being possessed by demons and then killed. it was kind of political. the point is that up until relatively recently, society approached hallucinations from a relatively humble perspective, assuming that if a person could detect sights, sounds, or other stimuli that weren't immediately evident that what they reported was probably important. with the rise of science, the pendulum shifted to the other extreme and now, when someone insistently speaks about something that isn't present, we assume that what they have to say is automatically irrelevant and untrustworthy. we have become happily convinced that we know it all.

ARE YOU HALLUCINATING? ARE YOU SURE?

13 August 2011

anybody home?

you may have noticed that a couple of things have not appeared as they usually do in this space. however, never fear, i shall return forthwith and all shall be well again.

until then, here are some photos of an exhibit called "fragile" in the main atrium of the montreal eaton centre mall. it's a marshland made entirely from recycled trash, with cardboard plants and milk bottle frogs. You can view it from underneath, too, and see life under the surface of the "water".






11 August 2011

dj kali & mr. dna @ the caustic lounge 10.08.11

a big ol' thank you to everyone who came out last night! we were a little off in the scheduling, since we switched weeks with dj tyg this month. in september, things are back to normal, so we'll see all you loungers on wednesday, september 7th.

mr. dna's city of angels homage ::

nervous gender :: christian lovers
screamers :: 122 hours of fear
nig-heist :: love in your mouth
wall of voodoo :: ring of fire
flipper :: life is cheap
black flag :: slip it in
minutemen :: joy
adolescents :: kids of the black hole
descendents :: hope
oingo boingo :: only a lad
the plugz :: el calvo y la cruz
circle jerks :: when the shit hits the fan
the weirdos :: weird world
x :: los angeles
germs :: we must bleed
the middle class :: out of vogue
the vandals :: the legend of pat brown
the dickies :: you drive me ape
minutemen :: tension
minutemen :: search
circle jerks :: i just want some skank / beverly hills
suicidal tendencies :: i saw your mommy
christian death :: burnt offerings
mx-80 sound :: why are we here?
t.s.o.l. :: weathered statues
kommunity fk :: unknown to you
the flesh eaters :: river of fever

dj kali's strange pop sensations :: 

l.a. vampires & zola jesus :: no no no
salem :: breakdownthadoor
severed heads :: guests
screamin' jay hawkins :: i hear voices
john cale :: she never took no for an answer
the cramps :: can't find my mind
party trash :: alone
crystal castles :: empathy
tuxedomoon :: new machine
blank dogs :: setting fire to your house
ritualzz :: >>>>▲<<<<
danielle dax :: bed caves
cocteau twins :: wax and wane
chrome :: meet you in the subway
perverse teens :: la baboute
human league :: blind youth
staccato du mal :: happy endings
fever ray :: stranger than kindness
the coasters :: the shadow knows
coil :: heartworms
the velvet underground :: venus in furs
eyeless in gaza :: voice from the tracks
wovenhand :: terre haute
virgin prunes :: bau dachong
death in june :: heaven street
novy svet :: en possession de te

09 August 2011

making faces :: product review [mac "seasonally supreme/ sheen supreme" lip... things]

if you ever needed evidence that there is some kind of collusion happening in the cosmetic industry, you need look no further than 2011 and the great stampede of lipstick/ gloss hybrids. i understand that no one wants to be left behind, but it looks a little weird when almost every major cosmetics company decides to launch a similar product at the same time.

there are variations on the theme. chanel's softly-tinted "rouge coco shines" [reviewed here] are more like a balm, giving plenty of moisture and a light colour payoff. even the brightest shades are fairly understated. on the other end of the spectrum, you have something like guerlain's "rouge automatiques", which, while lighter and sheerer than their regular "rouge g" shades [although not as sheer as the "rouge g brilliants"] definitely still fall into the category of a lipstick [which is, to be fair, how they were marketed]. in between, you have dior, launching 56 new shades of their "dior addict", laura mercier's "gel lipsticks", nars "velvet gloss lip pencil" and, of course, mac's "sheen supreme" hybrid. since i hadn't reviewed these when they initially came out, i decided to take a general look at them now that there's a new batch hitting stores.

l to r :: sheer mandarin, quite the thing, can't resist, new temptation, good to be bad

08 August 2011

mental health mondays :: finger on the trigger

nothing to be afraid of...
it's likely that most of us are going to have a panic attack at some point. the unlucky few are going to get them regularly and those with some real karma to burn are going to have to deal with a life where seemingly random, often unimportant things, set their brains alight and spinning into their own private v.i.p. room of hell, likely for hours at a time.

panic attacks can and often do come out of nowhere, but for those who are prone, they are often brought on by triggers- some kind of external stimulus that causes the brain to launch into panic mode. dealing with triggers can be sort of like doing a very intricate scottish dance around very sharp swords- the process itself is stressful, even if you avoid getting hurt.

in understanding triggers, it's important to identify what they're not. for instance, they're not phobias. phobias are an irrational, debilitating fear of a particular thing. the difference is subtle, but important. like many people, i have a mild to moderate fear of heights. the last time i was at the c.n. tower, despite the fact that i knew the section of the floor in plexiglass was totally safe, i couldn't walk on it because i was too scared. i literally stood on the edge, unable to make myself move forward. but once i stepped back and stopped looking down, poof, problem solved. although i'd felt petrified moments earlier, as soon as the immediate source of my fear was removed, everything was fine. and i can think about heights without any harm because while i might be afraid, the thought of them doesn't cause my brain to amp itself up into a feedback loop of anxiety and dread.

IF YOU'RE NOT PANICKING YET, BY ALL MEANS, CONTINUE READING...

07 August 2011

charlemagne

another short piece of fiction i wrote some time ago. never been quite sure what to do with it. i don't really see expanding it into something larger, or offering a greater explanation of what's going on. so it'll rest on my hard drive, much in the state it is now, for as long as i feel like keeping it. and now, it's immortalised on the internet...

charlemagne

There is a curl of smoke in the air, the acrid scent mingling with the hint of early winter frost. That smoke is illuminated for a moment by the sodium glow of the street light on the corner, standing sentinel a few feet off, its partner at the far end of the street flickering lamely, falling asleep on the job. The moonless sky rises above the gloom of the streetlights, expansive and empty and cold. Night has closed in.

He is standing at the corner, the noncommittal slow turn of his head revealing how hesitant he is to proceed in either direction. He thrusts his hands in his pockets and pulls his coat a little closer around him, a barrier against the chill air. The night gets inside you, makes you cold from the inside out. He will not wait. He leans in one direction and then in the other. He wants to move.

meditate on this

i see you, smug-hartha
there are lots of things i wish i could do. control people's minds, for one. who needs a whole bunch of superpowers when you can just have one that involves turning other people into your unholy army of the night, out to do your bidding? i wouldn't even control all the people i met all the time, because that would make life both boring and exhausting [in my imaginary world, it's a bit of a drain on energy to do the thinking for multiple people at once.]

on a more realistic plane, i'd like to be able to speak and read a lot of languages really well.

and i'd like to be able to meditate.

i hear so many people talk about the benefits of meditation, of all the things that it brings into their lives and about how much it helps with their lives- physically, mentally, creatively, everything-ly- and the one thing that goes through my mind when i hear this is that i'd like to punch these peaceful, healthy, positive people right in the nose. a horrible notion, probably borne of the fact that i cannot meditate. at all.

i've tried this several times. i've read up on it when simply trying to clear my mind and sit still for ten minutes didn't work. although i'm prone to diving in and trying to figure things out as i do them, i do eventually read the instructions and, when i do, i'm pretty good at following them. but in this case, even after seeking help, i am still an abject failure in the field.

HOW MUCH OF A FAILURE?

06 August 2011

making faces :: use what you got!

eye spy...
it's the eternal struggle: i already have a lot of colour cosmetics and i try as best i can to make use of all of them on a regular basis; but cosmetics companies don't want me using what i already have, because they want me to use something that's new and original and completely unlike anything i've seen before in my entire life. or something.

cosmetics companies do try to introduce new formulas for products on a regular basis to keep you curious [quick, everyone! onto the lipstick/ gloss hybrid bandwagon!], but a lot of their work is in making you buy things you've already bought, or in making you buy things that you would never have bought unless someone told you that it was very "of the moment".

have you seen this before?
i'm a complete sucker for new things. i love looking at those brand-new collections when they come out and i'm the first person to say that they somehow lose their lustre when they've been on the shelves for a month or two, even though the rational part of my brain knows that they're exactly the f**king same as they were when they were brand new. i get excited when someone shoves something under my nose and tells me it's "new". a lot of us do.

the thing is that most of us live on fixed budgets and beauty products are [as they should be] a luxury that needs to be considered after the "real" stuff [rent/ mortgage, bills, groceries, etc.] is taken care of. that means that we can't all just squee and reach for our wallets every time that someone shows us something that's "new", particularly because things that are "new" are often surprisingly familiar.

i'd like to share with you a little cosmetic adventure of mine, just to illustrate a point.


05 August 2011

friday favourites :: 05.08.11

i seriously can't believe we're in august already. i'd say i feel like i've slept through 2011 thus far, but the fact is that i've had insomnia for a lot of it, so i actually don't think i've slept through very much of it at all. and while i'd love to say that i've accomplished a lot thus far, it doesn't feel like i'm making tons of progress. i'm to blame for my own situation, of course, because the fact that i haven't gotten as much done as i'd like to this point is largely due to the fact that i haven't focused on getting specific things done as much as i should. bad kate. however, this week, i can finally say that, yes, something is finished.

conversion.

if you don't know me very well, you may not be aware of what conversion is. there's a link permanently on the side of this page under the "getting to know kate" listing, which will take you to the blog exclusively about the film, which is a feature i wrote [to impress dom, since he's such a movie buff] and which we shot using a dslr camera [the kind of thing normally used for photography]. you can read my filming diary to find out what happened day by day during the shooting process. i will not be posting a diary of everything that happened before and since the shooting, although it represents about a hundred times the work [spread out over a much longer period of time and involving fewer people, which makes it decidedly uninteresting to hear about].

03 August 2011

music to hallucinate to

or astral project. or lucid dream. the point is that this is the sort of music that you should put on for a big night out in an alternate dimension.

i.a.m. umbrella :: nothing :: this album used to drive me nuts when i was doing radio, because it's indexed as one long track, despite the fact that it has different track titles. i don't have to worry about this now, so i can just sit back and enjoy this oddball gem.


voice of eye :: well, any album, really :: thanks to a little-known government program that added pure peyote extract to the water in certain sectors of the southwestern united states in the 1990s, we are able to enjoy music that sounds like your brain being squeezed through a tube traveling through all history. the combination of electronics and acoustic instruments being sucked into a wind tunnel, punctuated by rhythm is, i think, exactly what the elders believed you should be hearing when you went off into the wild to have a vision quest. check out any of the mariner sonique/ vespers/ transmigration, as well as their collaborations with life garden, or their work with ure thrall and others as asianova. [oh, an i'm kidding about the government adding peyote to the water. although it would sort of make sense.]


FEED YOUR HEAD...

02 August 2011

making faces :: indispensables [the basics]

cosmetics and vanity products in general are about excess and luxury, but they can become so ingrained in your life that it's hard to picture going without them. i know how to cut back in lean times, but there are a few things that i would turn to crime before giving up. here are a few, from the category of beauty basics- everyday things i use, not including colour... i think i could deal with each colour individually ::

moroccan oil :: my mother actually turned me onto this trendy hair treatment after her hairdresser used it on her. for me, it was love at first try. i would never have thought to put oil in my hair on my own [don't you wash hair to get the oil and dirt out?], but this makes my dead follicles feel amazing. the only down side is that i find it difficult to stop touching my own hair, which gets to look a little creepy after a while. [tends to be good for getting people to leave you alone on the bus, though.]
there are a lot of argan oil [which is what moroccan oil actually is] treatments on the market and it's become very popular to bash the original in favour of its imitators. nonetheless, i can be surprisingly brand loyal when i try and i'm so happy with how soft and smooth this makes my hair feel that i get a bit nervous thinking of how sad i'd be if i got a bottle of another brand and found it inferior. i'd have to work through that whole bottle before i could go back to having a happy head again. scary stuff.



01 August 2011

mental health mondays :: taking a mental health day

metal wealth monday?
since i haven't had a chance to think through doing something smart and/ or informative, i've decided [not for the first time -ed.] to let this week's mental health monday be about what others have to say. enjoy hearing other opinions for once!

personality disorders made easy :: a very good nuts-and-bolts look at different personality disorder groups. there's a link at the bottom of the post that takes you to more detailed explanations on specific disorders.

what's new? :: not much, according to the delightful brain behind neuroskeptic, at least not in the world of antidepressants.

war of words :: i had this article recommended to me, and it's an interesting piece on the battle that's shaping the upcoming revision of the diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders. i say "interesting" rather than "informative", because i think he raises valid concerns about the possible stigmatization of merely eccentric behaviour, but i could spot a few factual errors [anti-psychotics are not more prescribed than heart or cholesterol medications] and those that i could spot make me wonder how well-researched the other facts he cites are. [bonus points for the pixies-inspired title.]

stroop-a-doop :: a bit of cognitive fun...

mhm will be back in its regular form next week, assuming that i can make myself stop watching american politics on the television, which i swear is making me dumber by the minute.
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