Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Another guilty dog

A friend sent me another video of a guilty dog.

And if the guilty face wasn't enough to condemn her, this one was ratted out by her two "friends" as well.

See it HERE.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Guilty Face

A little something to launch the weekend.

Anyone with a dog knows what a guilty dog looks like. My dog Buddy has a proclivity for shredding Kleenex when I leave him alone for more than five minutes. (He'd hurl himself on a fainting couch and weep into aforementioned Kleenex if he had opposable thumbs.) Forget all the bits of soggy tissue all over the floor. I know he's been into mischief the second I step through the front door based on how he greets me - no tail wagging, no enthusiastic leaps, just a wary look from down the hall, and a pathetic skulk onto his bed.

But this guy? This guy takes the cake. He made me laugh, I mean really laugh.

(And is it just me, or does this guy sound like Woody Harrelson?)

Thanks to the sublime ms kc dyer for this.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Christopher Brookmyre

Diana Gabaldon - who writes novels as fat and dense and darkly delicious as my favourite brownie - is currently singing the praises of Christopher Brookmyre's PANDAEMONIUM. In fact, she enjoyed it so much she was moved to write a fan letter, which is something considering how much she has on her plate at any given time. She gave permission to quote her.

Dear Christopher--

I've just finished wallowing in PANDAEMONIUM, pausing occasionally to gasp with admiration at your sheer technical brilliance (we'll take the tremendous energy, amazing ear for dialogue and eye for social dynamics, and your talent for chronic hilarity (ranging from subtle to belly-laugh) as read). All of which is _nothing_ to my enjoyment of the way your mind works. [g] I couldn't have done a clearer explanation of just what science _is_ (and how it works) myself--and I do it frequently, what with the appalling state of prevalent ignorance and the many practitioners thereof. And the sheer bloody brilliance, not only of the concept, but the _ending_...!

I've been enjoying your books for years, and you've been getting better and better, juggling the ideas so deftly with the satire and the plot (speaking of juggling, I adore your magician from THE SACRED ART OF STEALING and SNOWBALL IN HELL, too). This one is Just Great. Thanks so much.


She goes on to say in my writers' forum, that "Brookmyre's books are all violent, bloody, and absolutely hilarious. They're not a series; some of the books feature a recurring main character, the journalist Jack Parlabane, two of them have a wonderful, emotionally vulnerable, light-fingered magician as the hero (I fell in love with him, and I have high standards in that department [cough]), and some are one-off standalones. ALL of them are wonderfully plotted, deeply satirical, and done with a distinctly Scottish sense of humor."

Now not all of his books are available in North America, but I did see Pandaemonium on and the others are available (new and used) through other sellers, or check your library.

They don't exactly sound like cozies, but I'm going to see if I can get my hands on some of them.

Has anyone else heard of him or read his books?

Thursday, March 17, 2011


I sing sort of like this.

Even if I don't know the words, which is always, I never let it stop me from singing.

Joyously, enthusiastically, out-of-tunely.

However, he has way better facial expressions.

And he's got better pitch.

Also, I can't play the ukulele as well as he does.

Otherwise, our singing styles are exactly the same.

Yes, I do own a ukulele. What, you didn't know? They're cool now.

In the right hands. Like this little guy's:

(Please excuse me. I really needed to get my mind off Japan for a moment. The disaster is so epic in scale that I don't know what to do with it all sometimes.)


Holy crap.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Canadians skewered on SNL

On the one hand, it's a form of flattery to be satirized, eh.

On the other, we do not sound like this.

Not anywhere close. It's like Minnesota mixed with Irish mixed with drunk, eh.

On the other hand, Winnipeg gets a shout out.

Sorry about the poor quality, eh. It's the best one I could find.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Our hearts go out to Japan

Here is the link to donate to the Canadian Red Cross's efforts in Japan:

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Hockey Comment

If you're easily offended, skip this post and go here instead.

If you don't care about hockey and would rather read about home renos, skip this post and go here instead.

But for the rest of you...

Regarding the recent hit by Boston Bruin Zdeno Chara on Max Pacioretty of the Montreal Canadiens. If you missed it, it's here. Be warned you'll need a strong stomach. I felt sick when I watched it live, and when Max did a nosedive on the ice, I thought he was either paralyzed or dead.

He ended up with a severe concussion and a fracture to the fourth vertebra in his neck. According to doctors, if it had been displaced, he would have been paralyzed or dead. As it is, the injury may still end his career before it's even launched properly. He's 22, the same age as my son.

Understand that here in Canada, we are rabid hockey fans. Rabid. We plan our weekends and weekdays around watching or playing the game. It's the main discussion at the water cooler at any office after a game, and the conversation opener at a party.

My husband plays weekly, year round, my son grew up playing hockey, at a fairly elite level, my nephews and even one of my daughters and one of my nieces have all played the great game of hockey. While I acknowledge and accept there is hitting in this sport, I know (when my son reached the age when checking was allowed) they are coached to check other players properly, responsibly. They also learn how to take hits to minimize the chance of serious injuries. Every kid who has played hockey knows this.

Chara is not going to be suspended. Gary Bettman, the NHL Commissioner, says there is no need to "over-legislate" head hits. He had the opportunity to make things right and he blew it. Air Canada, one of the major sponsors, is threatening to withdraw their sponsorship. Bettman says so what, we'll find other carriers. Come on, Air Canada. Do it. Other big sponsors are threatening to do the same. I hope they have the balls to follow through. If the owners and the commissioner aren't going to put the pressure on and push for change, then maybe this will make a difference. Players need to be protected. Dirty hits are not part of hockey.

I'll post some pretty flower photos or put up a kitten video when I'm calmer.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011


Attitude is Altitude. Or to put it another way, if you're tempted to whinge and complain about your life, consider the next video.

Meet Nick Vujicic, from No Arms, No Legs, No Worries. This amazing Aussie says,

"Motivation gets you through the day, but inspiration lasts a lifetime."

Stop what you're doing, watch this, and be inspired. Believe me when I tell you it's worth four minutes of your time.

Nick's website, and the rest of his story, is here.

Thanks for bringing this to my attention, Kathy Down The Road! (And is there any chocolate cake left?)

And I feel compelled to mention our own homegrown inspiration, Montreal's Lazylegz.

Luca "Lazylegz" Patuelli was born with arthrogryposis, a disorder that affects bone structure and muscular growth but not, apparently, break-dancing which he's been doing from the age of 15. Look closely. You'll see lots of cool shots of our city in the background. (The building you see around 1:25 is my old office building! Which probably excites no one but me. Carry on...)

And if your heart can stand it, read this story about a tire iron and tamale. I literally wept all over my cereal when I read this over breakfast this morning, then I cut it out (the article, not the crying) and taped it to a kitchen cupboard so I could re-read it a few times. It just really got to me. Amazing what one little tamale in the right hands can do.

Your little ticker's cockles will be toasty warm after reading this piece. Trust.

Monday, March 7, 2011

I'm Ba-ack!

Did you know I went AWOL?

What, you didn't know I was gone? I didn't want to say anything, especially to those of you stuck shoveling piles of snow, but I was in the Bahamas for a week. Sunny, breezy, beautiful Nassau. That would make me a Bahama Mama (also the name of a most wonderful drink with rum and fruit juices and rum...) I can't believe my husband and I have been married for 25 years and we've never gone to the Caribbean before. I had this idea that sun and beach and tropical breezes would be boring. Sheeyah. What an eejit.

We chose to go to Sandals, i.e., No Kids Allowed i.e., More Fun (I was going to say more civilized, but this turned out to be Not The Case.) This was a smart decision, as evidenced by the hordes of crabby, screaming children in line at the airport when we left Montreal at 4:30 a.m. Thankfully most of them were headed to Atlantis, a place I now know I will never, ever, EVER visit. Despite being at the airport more than 2 hours early, we came very close to missing our flight. They plucked us out of the security line-up and we rushed to the gate just as the attendant was poised to give away our seats. A quick uneventful three hours later and we landed in paradise. It even came with its own peacocks. (I regret not bringing my good camera, so had to resort to the point-and-shoot.)

My husband talked me into scuba lessons on our first day. Seriously, moi in a wetsuit? My kids said I looked "buff" (snort) but hey, a wetsuit isn't about making a fashion statement, it was about keeping me warm. And looking like a pro. Okay, so I look like a doofus, but a professional doofus.

I did 2 hours of instructions with Wenzel (my new hero) in a small, deep pool behind the dive shack. I needed to learn how to clear water from my mask, how to retrieve my emergency back-up mouthpiece, how to signal I'm out of air and take Wenzel's back-up air. (Say what now?) And how to never, ever, EVER say "pop up to the surface." It's always "ascend gradually." The next morning, we hustled into the dive boat with our gear and we were off to a location way out in the ocean for our first dive!

These are the jackets and tanks we had to strap ourselves into, below. (I have no idea who that random guy is waving at me. But he seems happy enough.) I had to add a weight belt, then strap myself in to the jacket attached to the tank, and heave myself to the back of the boat which was pitching about in the waves, don my fins, place my mask and mouthpiece and throw myself into the ocean. I won't lie. I was terrified. Almost paralyzed with fear. I almost drowned when I was five, and I can still recall what it felt like to breathe in water instead of air. I really had to fight the urge to climb back into the boat. But I "descended gradually" and landed on sand about 25 feet down, then kneeled and waited for my Wenzel.

Now I wish I could show you what happened next, but my underwater camera is only good for 10 meters (33 feet) and we ended up around 40 feet down so I didn't want to risk having the thing implode. As soon as I started the lazy swim to the wreck (a tugboat that went down 10 years ago) and I saw a 4 foot moray eel in all his undulating glory, I was completely smitten and forgot to be afraid. We swam all around the wreck, accompanied by tropical fish flashing brilliant colours, including these big blue parrot fish. At one point, Wenzel dropped some food in the water right in front of my mask, and my head was suddenly surrounded by about a hundred fish, all nibbling and flicking right in my face. I put my hand up and felt their sleek bodies and smiled so hard I got water in my mask! The parrot fish were especially cool. They look like they have ill-fitting dentures, don't they? Doug could fix that in a jiffy.

This is the view from our elevator. Nice way to start the day, no?

This is the view from the pier, at the end of each day. Le dramatic sigh.

We swam, we relaxed with books (and my new Kindle, yee haw!) and ate cracked conk and coconut shrimp, we sang in the piano bar in the evenings, danced to a reggae band, sampled drinks with names like Miami Vice, Hummingbird, Caribbean Breeze, Bahama Mama and Papa, and the Mudslide...

We met a lot of great people, including a couple of endodontists from Seattle, Washington. Turns out that before they moved to the U.S., Terrance grew up in the next town over from us, literally minutes away and went to McGill, where Doug studied and eventually taught. Then, in a really crazy twist, we discovered a few days later that one of our hygienists is Terrance's second cousin and his uncle is Doug's patient! It really IS a small world.

We had such a great time that we booked another vacation for next year. And a few couples that were there are going to join us at the same time. Why did we wait so long to do this?

You tell me. Do we look happy?

The End.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

A couple of TED Talks

One brief and one a bit longer. Both wonderful in different ways.

The power of the pentatonic scale or how Bobby McFerrin can hack into your brain with music. It is only three minutes long, but it is magnificent when you consider what he manages to do:

And then there is Temple Grandin. I love her, and could listen to her for hours.

The World Needs All Kinds of Minds is the title of her TED talk.

And yes, it does indeed.