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Showing posts from May, 2014

eat the cup :: it. is. coming.

olĂ ! it's the thirtieth of may, which means that we're only two short weeks from the beginning of me turning into a rather irritatingly single-minded soccer fan.

if you've been checking out my bloggy bits for a while, you know that i've developed a distinctive way of enjoying the world cup every four years, which is that i use the opportunity to learn as much as i can about the cuisine of participating nations by cooking from the traditional menus of the victorious countries. and this year will be no different. this will actually mark the third time that i've conducted this culinary experiment and it brings with it a slew of new challenges.

first and most importantly, i'm going to have to think more about scheduling. the previous tournaments in germany and south africa allowed me to browse through the day's winners to come up with a dish, or a variety of dishes, that served as an alimentary summary of what had taken place. this year, the cup will take place…

and that's why everything about me makes sense

i have a pretty extensive family tree going, kind of an endless project that satisfies my ocd curiosity about the past. i pick it up to add to it again every six months or so, in the hopes that someone on the internet has come up with more information than was previously available, especially people who pay for professional services, which i'm too cheap to do. [someone once told me that rick santorum had managed to trace his family history back to the year 90. if that's true, it's just mocking me, because i have to go through life knowing that there is something i enjoy at which rick santorum is better than i'll probably ever be.]

i lucked out this week and added not just a little information but generations worth of names to one branch of the family, all because it suddenly occurred to me that one dead end several-greats-removed grandmother had a famous brother whose history i could track. her brother was famous mostly for being tall and for taking a lot of people wit…

mental health mondays :: the end of agency?

i'm a little shocked at how much of my social media news feeds in the last two days have been taken up with discussions on whether or not santa barbara mass murderer elliot rodger was mentally ill. this is seriously being debated, like people who aren't mentally ill go out and start shooting up random folks and then themselves for shits and giggles. i'm sorry if that remark seems inappropriate, but it doesn't strike me as any more inappropriate than asking if a young man who writes an angry manifesto and then takes his [legally purchased and registered, but that's another post] gun and goes off to kill strangers has a mental illness. let's put this to rest: yes, someone who does this sort of thing is absolutely sick; their delicate mental balance has been thrown off; their brain is not functioning in the way it should; they are in need of professional assistance.

to that last point, rodger apparently did seek professional assistance, which is a pretty clear ind…

making faces :: stop and smell and wear the roses

i'm very happy to see that canadian upstarts bite beauty are getting more and more great press as their releases have been increasing. they are focused on the lips, on your lips and on making them healthier, softer and prettier. i've already fallen for their luminous creme lipsticks and i'm fond of their light, sheer glosses. i've actually missed a few of their other products, like their cult favourite matte lip pencils and their new lip mask, which is garnering rave reviews, but recently i found something that i just couldn't resist.

bite has created four new lipsticks in a new formula called "deconstructed rose". along with a coffret of lip glosses bearing the same name, the collection is supposed to highlight the rose in all its varieties. the glosses run the gamut from very sheer to quite saturated, but the lipsticks are all pigment powerhouses. i was drawn to one [the deepest one, unsurprisingly] called "crimson", because i was on the hunt…

more like space greatest hits :: i'll say it if no one else will

i kind of hate myself for posting this again. it smacks too much of rubbing "i told you so" brand salt in some pretty devastating wounds. however, the fact is that there is no shortage of information on the deadliness of guns in america. i awoke early today and scanned my twitter stream, as i usually do, to see what was up with the world. by 8:30, i had already read about three deadly gun "incidents" in the united states last night and early this morning. the santa barbara mass murder was only one of them. there is something deeply wrong where a person can read about three separate gun murders by 8:30 in the morning in a country that isn't experiencing a civil war.

america is not the only country in the world to have a culture of gun ownership, as the nra is eager to point out. one of their favourite examples is switzerland, which is why i did some searching and found this excellent piece from the bbc about what gun ownership is really like in that country.

if …

dj kali and mr. dna bring you... the dancing dead

it had been a while since mr. dna and i had gotten to do a more "club-style" night. because i was nervous, i did something i almost never do: i made a playlist. the upshot of this for me was that i spent a a lot of time in the surprisingly roomy dj booth worrying that i couldn't think of what to be worried about. i'm like that. 

mr. dna, who does normally make well-ordered playlists for himself went more freeform with his approach, bringing lots of stuff and using a few specific tracks to inspire his flow, which is what i usually do. 

so essentially, we reversed dj identities last night. [strange note: the other dj'ing couple we know also have one member who carefully prepares playlists and another who prefers to keep things more open, connecting the dots between a few chosen tracks. is this a thing?]

here's what you heard, or here's what you missed, depending on where you were:



dj kali
kapo :: only europa knows
hula :: at the heart
danielle dax :: bed caves

making faces :: inspired by giallo

i'm going to start off by saying that the title of this is a little misleading, because my real inspiration is european cult cinema in general, of which films termed 'giallo' are only a part. for me, they've always flowed together, since i learned about them more or less at the same time, from more or less the same people.
my introduction to the cult of european horror/ exploitation films came the first summer that i was living in montreal. i was perusing the program of the fantasia film festival with a friend and we came across a writeup for a film that included the description: "an essential part of the italian jungle cannibal subgenre".

what. the actual. hell.

once you've seen a phrase like that, you can't unsee it. you're aware that there are people out there who are aficionados in the world of italian jungle cannibal films and, if you're like me, that means that you need to know more.

as it turns out, it wasn't that difficult to find …

mental health mondays :: oops

thanks very much to dom for alerting me to this fascinating article from salon/ scientific american. for those of you pressed for time, here's a tl;dr version:

"we may have been wrong about that whole lack of serotonin causing depression thing. oops. love, science"

for many years now, psychiatric medicine has relied on the model of the neurochemical imbalance to understand and treat depression and anxiety disorders. and while this particular article only relates to the insufficiency of serotonin reuptake inhibitors as treatment, it's pretty clear that the same thing would apply to drugs that regulate the amount of norepinephrine and/ or dopamine in the brain as well.

the short, over-simplified version is that while drugs that help delay the reuptake of neurotransmitters associated with pleasure and reward do indeed make depressed people feel better, they aren't actually treating depression, at least not its cause. because it turns out that depleted serotonin in t…

one night only... the dancing dead

oh dj nights, how i've missed you...
which is why it kicks ass that dom and i will be dj'ing next friday at the cabaret playhouse. i understand that it's been newly renovated since i last worked there, which means that there's more space to dance and that they've removed the stripper pole left over from the bar's previous incarnation. [i say this knowing full well that this is going to be a disappointment for many of you, but i'm told that the mirror wall is still in full effect, so smile.]
it's hard to believe that it's been almost a year since we did our last "caustic lounge" and even harder to believe that that was the last time we were behind the wheels of polymer. to be fair, we haven't actually sought out the opportunity, which is why we're lucky to have friends who lob the occasional softball into our glove.
for those of you who are in montreal, here's the information on how you can join us for this momentous event: 
th…

making faces :: what's in a name?

file this under "better late than never", since spring collections have by now ceded their shelf space to summer and, indeed, the weather in montreal just seems to have bypassed spring entirely and shot up to the high twenties centigrade with barely a blink at the mid-to-high teens. but i don't like feeling rushed and mother nature was, up until the last few days, pretty stingy about giving me adequate light for getting good swatches and shots of makeup.

i knew from the beginning of the spring launches in the middle of winter that i wanted at to pick up one nars "kauai" eye shadow duo, but the nice folks at nars decided to make it part of their permanent collection, which meant that i didn't feel the need to rush out and buy it the second it hit counters. i like that, because a lot of times i just can't make rushing out to buy new makeup a priority and i don't think that's a bad thing. so if someone like me, who writes about beauty products on a…

madness in montreal

no, this isn't a post about hockey. there is certainly that sort of madness going on in montreal right now, but i'm writing about something more sinister. [which, for some reason, you've introduced with a hockey joke. -ed.]

like most cities, montreal is a patchwork of communities, each with their own distinct character, while fitting together to form a cohesive whole. i would actually say that montreal's whole is more cohesive than, say, toronto's, where the communities often seem very far apart, in all senses. mostly, that means that montrealers share a conviviality and joie de vivre, something for which they are well-known. [also riots -ed.]

however, sometimes the ways in which neighbourhoods come together is a little bit disturbing. i was reminded of this yesterday, when i traveled to an area of the city i don't often see. i was aware of it, of course, and the area had always been faintly disturbing to me as i drove through it, but walking around a little [i…

making faces :: g-force first attack

a few weeks ago, i did a "sneak peek" of the new guerlain rouge g shades being launched this month at counters everywhere. not content with just a peek, i rushed back to pick up one of the new shades, the inexplicably limited "rose grenat".

being a limited shade, "rose grenat" makes an obvious first pick from the new offerings. it also happened to be my favourite, a gorgeous velvety red-pink shade [i honestly don't know whether i'd say it was more pink or more red] that gives intense colour with even a light coat. you could blot it down to a stain, of course, but this colour just begs to be allowed to go full-force.

the shade is very creamy, although i haven't noticed any bleeding/ feathering during wear. i did find that it faded a little faster than i would have expected from such a bold colour, although this was more obvious on a day where my lips were particularly dry. it won't survive a meal [although there will be a slight stain after…

making faces :: experiments in colour contrast, purple and red edition

the field of what colours are seen as going together is constantly shifting. i remember years ago a friend of mine told me with utter certainty that one never wore navy and black together. a few years later, the same friend was caught by surprise to find out that navy and black together was the look for that year. this year, pairing black with dark blue is said to "weigh down" a look too much. so colour combinations are much more about what looks current as opposed to dated and not about timeless maxims. that's one way to keep you on your toes, always looking for something 'modern', although it doesn't take long before you've more or less assembled all you will ever need to create any colour combination imaginable. [that's when they make you start worrying about shapes. -ed.]

what seems to be big right now is analogous colours- shades that sit side by side on the colour wheel. for years, that was one of the biggest no-nos. but now, "blue and gree…

good deeds

i'm not writing this to toot my own horn, but rather because i hope it inspires others to do the same as i.

many of you may have received calls from organisations claiming to be acting on behalf of microsoft, or claiming to be microsoft. these calls are, of course, a scam, designed to get you to to hand over not only your credit card and banking information, but also to trick you into downloading software that allows the spammers to access your computer and all the information on it. most people aren't going to fall for this crap and just hang up. i have a slightly different view however. i talk.

this isn't a tactic the everyone can employ, i grant you. one of the benefits of being able to manage my time more or less as i see fit is that i can make time for the little things, such as making sure that these creeps spend more time talking to me and less time talking to people who are less experienced, more nervous and more trusting with people when it comes to handling compu…

making faces :: inspired by mori

i've always found that my tastes run a little too eclectic to settle on one particular style of dress. yes, i used to wear a lot of black and listen to antisocial music, but at the same time, i always felt energised by seeing blocks of colour. i'd go through phases of looking prim and businesslike, but after a little while, it would start to feel restrictive.

my way of dealing with this, as i creep inexorably towards middle age, is to try to patch together looks that incorporate all of the things that i like, or to take inspiration from various sorts of things i come across on line [to the pinterest!!] and make them my own. it's a way to stave off making clothing decisions by grabbing stuff that doesn't look/ smell too bad off the top of the laundry hamper. or the floor.

i can't remember how i ended up finding out about the japanese trend of "mori girls", but i loved the imagery that i found associated with it. somehow, it seemed appropriate to the endles…

culinating :: berry interesting

a few weeks ago, i was mulling over the plight of the strawberry in our cooking culture. there are very few berries i've met and not liked in my time. i'm not fond of currants and i'm sure that someone will tell me that there's a species called stinkberries that smell like the contents of my litter pans, but as a general rule, i like berries. fresh berries are delicious on their own, of course and when it comes to desserts, i will generally opt for a fruit pie or cobbler over perennial favourite chocolate, but i also love finding ways to incorporate berries into savoury dishes, everything from adding them to a salad to using them in a sauce or glaze. pretty much every holiday dinner i prepare has some form of fruit [mostly berry] sauce involved. or at least some sort of chutney-like preparation to bring that happy berry taste to the table.

when i thought about strawberries, i realised that despite their immense popularity, they are consumed almost exclusively as a swee…

save toronto

there were at least four other things that i had planned to post, but in the interests of human decency, this has been bumped to the top of the list.

i lived in toronto for six years before returning to montreal and while the city and i had an uneasy relationship, i would never say that i disliked the place. it has its problems, of course, every city does. what made it difficult for me to live there was that so much of the city was tethered to the interests of its far-flung surburban bedroom communities. the sort of places that value cars over public transit, that prioritize major league sporting events over arts and culture and that follows the interests of business and plutocrats rather than those of its citizens. [the toronto suburbs dealt a crushing defeat to an initiative that would have introduced a measure of proportional representation to municipal politics.]

that said, there are lots of things to love about the city. and i mean a lot. a place as geographically sprawling as t…