Saturday, June 27, 2015

Kitchen Disco Sextodecimo 

Note: no actual disco in the playlist; just a lot of dancing around dangerously with knives and hot peppers. Rdio subscription required.

I hadn't really cooked for awhile (lots of salads lately, in a summer mode) but on a rainy night like tonight I made a curry which I hadn't done for months. Thus a new playlist was born into this world. No pretensions of trying to impress more musically knowledgable friends or to fool myself I'm not old as I am - just something to keep the pot simmering as the rice cooked.

I may add a YouTube playlist if the urge strikes me.

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Pride and Prejudice  

This is a fascinating mini-documentary from the New York Times about the idea of "sounding gay". I've always wondered if 90% of anyone's "gay-dar" is really just making assumptions from the way someone else talks, which I suspect is the case. It's a timely topic as it's Pride Weekend and I'm close enough to the Village/Boy Town/etc to see a few more gay couples enjoying the City. Knock yourselves out, spread thy tourist dollars about the town - I only wish I knew more things for visitors to do in Toronto - you know, other than march in a parade in garden variety fetish kit. I knew a guy in college who wasn't gay but really "sounded" gay and was incredulous when people suggested it. I also knew a classmate who was gay and agreed, "Oh - that guy is gay." despite us all knowing the person in question was married to a lovely young woman. Years ago I gave up guessing someone's sexuality. It's none of my business so why should it matter to me. It doesn't determine who they are, so why should I care? Plus, I'm terrible at it; male or female. Haircuts, speech patterns, body language or general je ne sais quoi, I have been repeatedly proven wrong. So I gave up on that as a pointless endeavor that said more about me than anything else.

Thus I openly acknowledge, I have absolutely no spidey-sense or alleged "gay-dar". "God-dar" on the other hand… I can spot a fundamentalist or conservative Christian within 100m. Are their trousers slightly too high? Are there shirts too ill-fitting (why are they so concerned about covering their nipples?) Is their body language in the manner of someone with some kind of stick up their ass? Is it something in the eyes? An over sincerity? Yes. Yes to all of it and many more subtle clues, like quoting Our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. Oh right, that guy! Mention that guy more than once a year and bingo-bango-bongo, you've revealed what I had already guessed: that you are going to piously tell me that I'm not getting to Paradise anytime soon. If it's the same Paradise I know, that's okay, I'll take a pass. As the song goes, "I've been to Paradise, and once is probably enough…"

Another reason I find this topic so interesting is I'm self-conscious about the way I speak. I have no discernible Newfoundland accent. I can barely fake one. I mean, I guess I could put on a St. John's accent, but in general if I tell someone I'm from Newfoundland they seem confused, saying that I don't sound like I'm from The Rock. I'm not sure it's just that I've lived in Ontario longer than Newfoundland either. The week after I had moved to Ottawa to go to school people were genuinely surprised I was from St. John's. Where did my accent or lack of one come from? Additionally, over the last decade, my teeth have migrated hither, thither and yon, such that I've developed a slight over-bite leaving me with a distinct sibilant "s" meaning I have a slurry, hissing sound anywhere the "s" is found - which is a lot of places. I probably over think it and if I'm on the phone or speaking in a meeting, I consciously try to deemphasize the sound. It's really hard to do. It's hard enough to form an intelligent sentence never mind worrying about how you sound. The conclusion of the video is a surprise and another lesson in why we should all worry a whole lot less about how someone sounds and listen to what they are saying instead.


Sunday, June 21, 2015

And Suddenly, It Was Summer 

image via Best of Instagram, @jimmy_chin, Ocean Mood

Without a clammer, without even making much of an effort, Summer arrived. Here in Toronto we’ve only had several sputtering starts with extreme heat one day, cold the next, punctuated throughout by heavy or constant rain. But now it’s official and it feels official. All the summer festivals are running or advertising they’ll be here soon; Luminato, NXNE, Pride, the Pan Am Games and whatever local street festival or farmer’s market demarcates your neighbourhood. This year, even Ramadan is in the summer (sucks to be you, with long days to fast between sunrise and sunset). To herald the beginning of summer, here’s a sextodecimo, democratically presented as Rdio, Spotify and Youtube playlists. Don’t ever say I didn’t do anything for you.

Spotify playlist

The Playlist

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Sunday, June 07, 2015

Seen in May 

Scene from Ex Machina
Ex Machina

I spent most of May binging on two entirely different types of television shows, yet I also saw some of the best films I've seen all year (Nightcrawler from last year), Phoenix and Ex Machina among them. I find in the summer I tend to watch less television and more films. We'll see if that holds up this year, but the spring is off to a good start.
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Wednesday, June 03, 2015

Easy Like a Sunday Morning 

Ride for Heart

5:00 AM: an alarm trickles down my ear canal. Drunkenly, I swipe it away. Ten minutes later the backup alarm hums. At this point I fight off the bedsheets and dismiss that one too. I’m standing on the other side of the bedroom with no idea how I got there. I grab the cycling shorts I’ve laid out about four hours previously, and apply generous amounts of chamois cream to the padding of the shorts like mayonnaise to a large county fair winning sandwich. Slipping the shorts on feels like wearing a soiled diaper. It’s 5:15 am on a Sunday morning and this is how I feel. Then a shirt, then “knee” warmers (which are sort of 3/4 length leg warmers), then socks which I’ve chosen for their warmth. I decide against wearing too much more because despite the 4ºC temperature outside, I will be riding about 90 km in the charity Ride for Heart and Stroke and I’d rather err on the light side. This will prove my undoing. I should’ve layered up. Always layer up.

Somehow I’m drinking coffee. A bowl of cereal I’ve warmed in the microwave is all I have time to eat. After a quick tire check, I pocket a bike pump and decide to switch to a waterproof jacket – it is a steady rain after all. By 6:10 am I’m on the bike rolling down Richmond street. The start point of the ride is close to my office which is usually a 25-30 minute ride but at 6AM on a Sunday, with nothing but green lights ahead me, I’m there in 15 minutes.
“There was no cake at all.”
My last bike ride of note was 75km on a perfect California day which did in fact include some pretty demanding hills. By comparison this 75 km should have been a cake walk. A promenade with a pastry. A stroll with a strudel. A jaunt with a jingle-berry pie. But this ride was happening about an hour earlier than my earliest eye blink, and only about 16 hours after an 8-hour cross-Atlantic flight. It was not a cake walk. There was no cake at all.
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