Monday, December 31, 2012

Singing loud for all to hear...

Strict instructions had been given.  We would not start Christmas until 7:00 a.m.  Meaningful parent eyes glared to impart the importance of the rising time.  David and I were toasty warm in our bed.  At 7:03,  a Christmas Cheer rendition of Deck the Halls was bellowed from the living room.  It was not Rissa.  Rissa was still asleep.  It was my Mom.


On the drive down for Christmas, Dad reported she bounced up and down and giggled for the last 30 minutes of the drive. Because why?  Because when it comes to family and the holidays, my Mom is a 4 year old.  She gets THAT excited.  She hugs and chortles and kisses and snuggles.  She holds you as though she never wants to let go.  She is infectiously joyous.  Her illness is the best kind of bug to come down with over the holidays.

As we co-cooperatively prep our Danish feast on Christmas Eve, in the midst of chortle and singing along with Elvis's Christmas album, Mom notices that her slip is showing.

"Uh-oh," she says.  "It's snowing down south."


"That's what we always said in high school if your slip showed."

What's great about Mom is that she is kind-hearted, loud and just the right amount of goofy.  She is a person who uses phrases from Simcoe County in the 1960s, not with irony, but as a way to keep traditions alive.  A small town girl, born and bred - she has travelled the world, viewing it with open-minded and accepting eyes, and she chose to return to wallow in small town once more.  She says things like "Look on the bright side,"  and "Every cloud has a silver lining," and MEANS them.  She chooses to embrace the happy.

When David wrapped  Rissa's ridiculous squishy, illuminated bear on Christmas Eve, my Mom almost peed her pants she giggled so madly.  

"Bwa-ha-ha-ha-ha!!!  It's so silly!  SO silly!!!! I need one!  I NEED one!!"

"Do NOT wake Rissa up!!"

(stifled giggles as she whacks it against the arm of the sofa... "It's just so silly!   hee-hee-hee-hee-hee!!!" she now whispers, holding a finger to her lips - showing just how quiet she is being.

While we played Monopoly before bed, she knocked over a wine glass ... "It's okay!   No drops went on the carpet because they are ALL... in my... TUMMY!"  (pat, pat, pat - indicating safe placement of wine)

I love my parents.  Not only do I choose to spend time with them - I revel in that time.   I revel in all my Dad's bad puns and my Mom's fist-pumping after she's won a game of Perquacky.  I'm 44 years old - snuggling with my Mom on the couch remains a perk.  She still kisses me on the forehead the way I kiss Rissa.  I see more and more of myself in her cackle and crazy.

We had them for all of 47 hours over the holidays.  Then it was time to go, we were lucky that they weren't waiting at the door on Boxing Day when we got up that morning.  If my Dad doesn't have tasks, he might implode.  We wave from the door as they honk the car horn.  My Mom blows wild kisses from her car window.

"Boy it's a good thing you like my Mom," I say to David.

"I agree."

"'Cause you know that I am going to turn into her."

"I'm down with that."

Friday, December 28, 2012

Longing for the Longshot

So... Les Miserables... the movie...

Before I get into my rant... It IS a good, film.  It's just not as good as it should have been.  (But if you haven't seen the stage play, and you love a good tragedy, you'll love it.)  The acting all around was stellar - I cannot fault the cast on that account.  There were standouts for me.  Anne Hathaway's performance as Fantine made me weep.  Eddie Redmayne's voice and screen presence was fantastic as Marius, and the cameo by Colm Wilkinson?  Delicious!   I gotta say that Amanda Seyfried's Cosette had a beautiful controlled soprano that was not at all grating and Samantha Banks' portrayal of Eponine was exactly what it needed to be.  The trio between Cosette, Marius and Eponine was lovely.

That said...

Please Sir, may I request fewer close-ups?  Too many faces!  There were far too many desperate, crying, puss-filled faces.  I'm praying that there are 6-degrees-of-separation between Tom Hooper and me so that I can get him to re-edit the film with WAY more medium and long shots in it? Please? I'm sure that the set decoration and design for the film was splendid - if only the audience could ever see it.

Rissa pointed out as we left, all depressed and ready to slit our own throats from the pathos, "Well Mummy, it is called The Miserables."  And it was - oh God was it!!  Tragic and dark, near plodding in sections, and just bone-crunchingly SAD.

I've seen the stage version three times.  Not once did I come out of it depressed.  There's something about good live theatre that reaches across the divide and unites an audience.  It is uplifting, driving you to your feet in a truly organic standing ovation.  The film had very little of that.  And why?  Because the vocals, while good (some great - see first paragraph), they were too intimate and lacked the grandeur that the music requires to move the audience.  Yes, Hugh Jackman can sing.  He gave a good vocal performance for the most part, but Bring Him Home was not his best song. He just did not have the vocal control and sweetness to his voice to make that song into what should be one of the most affecting moments in the show.    Eddie Redmayne gave that performance in Empty Chairs at Empty Tables.   Russell Crowe can sing (anyone who says that he tanked vocally is full of crap - if you want to see someone tank vocally watch Pierce Brosnan in Mamma Mia), but he just doesn't quite have the musical theatre chops to carry Javert's numbers.

In a film version that's 2 1/2 hours long, steeped in tragedy and angst, you really need the comic relief.  REALLY A LOT.  That's why those comic scenes are written into the original musical.  The Thenardier bits just weren't nearly funny nor grand enough to allow the audience that moment to laugh, breathe and prepare for the rest of the pathos.  This again comes back to the TOO MANY CLOSE-UPS.  Onstage the comic scenes rollick, but the film lacked the scope of the stage-picture and the scene suffered as a result.  By and large the trios, quartets, quintets and chorus numbers just didn't cut it because they were overly edited.   You need to SEE Eponine as she watches Marius sing with Cosette - you need the juxtaposition of her WITH them - not a close-up of her in angst.  There was only the smallest of edits that allowed that to happen on film.  On stage, even as people stand at different blocked points representing different locales, they still inhabit the same space for the audience and they sing WITH each other.   Those same scenes on film minimizes the stage picture and take away the magic of the music.

Most accurate and satisfying transfer of a chorus number from stage to film?  The final reprise of Do You Hear the People Sing.   It finally managed to capture the feeling of a true chorus number, and though it had close-ups, it was mostly long and medium shots.

I would watch certain parts of the film over and over again.  Those moments are brilliant.  Other parts?  Not so much.  Before seeing the film, I assured a friend that I would watch it with her again, now I'm not so sure - with its grime and its pacing and its weeping it was all too.... Miserable.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Waking to Barney Stinson

About a month ago, David got this fancy-schmancy light that gradually becomes brighter and brighter to simulate a sunrise in our bedroom. I'm not making this shit up.  We live in Canada - it is now winter - coming out of hibernation sucks at the best of times.  This light takes about half an hour to gently accustom its owners to the morning before having the most soothing of Asian plink-plonking pseudo bells as an alarm.  I will freely admit that it is a more civilized way to greet the world.  You can snuggle in the blankets and reflect as you snooze (David ALWAYS hits the snooze button at least once), basking in that gentle nudge into wakefulness.

At least that's the plan until Rissa's alarm goes off about 5 minutes later, at full volume. She recently made a new CD with all her favourite ITunes songs. This morning it was Barney Stinson singing Nothing Suits Me Like a Suit at full volume.

And though I revel in my daughter's delicious musical weirdness, I know that I will have that mind-worm of a song in my head all frickin' day now.  Bright side: it could have been more jarring, could have been American Idiot.

Rissa's Wake Up Mix
American Idiot
Nothing Suits Me Like a Suit
Taico drum number from Cirque du Soleil's Dralion
I'm Yours
Summer of '69 
Superstar - from the Australian cast recording of JC Superstar
The Flesh Failures from HAIR
Walkin' on Sunshine 

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Where are the REAL Christmas Cards?

Okay, seriously?!?  How hard can it be to find a heart-felt Christmas card for your Mom that is not overly schmaltzy, poorly rhymed or full of guilt-driven sentiment?  SERIOUSLY?!?

I went to two stores looking for the right card for my Mom.  Found perfect cards for David, Rissa, even my Dad, but for my Mom?  Nothing, nada, zip!  There were a couple of cards that would have done alright, but they were like $9.95 and $11.00!!!  ELEVEN FREAKING DOLLARS?!?  For a card?  Since I had my first rant last May on this subject, Mother's Day without the Crap,  prices have sky-rocketed.

First off, why are most of the cards addressed to: A Wonderful Mother, The Best Mother, A Special Mother...  Who on this planet, not raised by nannies, calls their Mom, MOTHER?!?  I don't even call my Mom, 'Mom,' I call her 'Mare' - after the French, Mère, but horsier, and because I like bad puns.   Or 'Mor' - the Danish word for Mom.

There were so many cards that started with this sort of text:

"Mother, you will never know how much you truly mean..."  
Yes she will.  And you know when?  When she finishes reading the card.  Because you are telling her right now with this stupid card how much she means to you.

"Mother you've always been there for me..." 
Lie.  No mother has ALWAYS been there for her kid.  Except maybe Mildred Pierce.  There are times when kids are shits and have made dumb-ass decisions and they need to be told "You're on your own on this one sweetie... I am not bailing you out of jail tonight." 

"Mother, I know that I don't say 'I love you' a lot..." 
Why not?  Why aren't you telling your mother that you love her a lot?  Are you a bitch and you're just trying to make up for your bad behaviour and get into her will with a crappy card?  OR... is she the bitch, in which case, why are you even giving her a card?  Stop this toxic Catch-22 relationship and spend time with your friends who are nicer people. 

So for Mare this year, she's getting a handmade card with a hand-written sentiment which might be as simple as writing out "I love you,"  or "I'm so glad that we get along."  I don't want to give her a crap card that other people wrote that sort of fits the circumstances.  I want her to know that I'm proud that she stands up for the under-dog, happy that we still get into giggle fits, and when she does her Arsenio Hall fist pump and sings "I am the Champion" after she beats me at Perquacky, she is a goddess.  Where's the card that says that?

Christmas 1969, Summerside, PEI

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Bottom of a Birdcage Mouth

So why is it that when you're sick, your mouth feels like the bottom of a birdcage?  What is that?  It's like the virus crawls up onto your tongue when you sleep, lies there overnight all cozy and pasty white under you uvula, clutching your tonsils and adenoids as fleshy stuffed toys for comfort.  It spreads out across your tongue and glories in its stench.  My cat padded up to me in bed this morning.  I said "Hello," and she looked offended.  And this is a cat who cleans her own ass - badly.

Bright side - Although I am muzzy headed, I have this week to get better before I have actual things that I have to leave the house for.  Annnnnnd... that sentence made next to no sense because apparently my brain, in addition to my other organs has been affected by whatever that virus ridden toddler slipped me.

It's my own fault.  I mean, toddler fingers are yummy and sweet and you usually get a laugh when you suck on them.  But I knew.  I KNEW as soon as those fingers went into my mouth that I should have rinsed with scotch right away.  But now it's too late, because everything that kid touched (floors, walls, his nose, other people's noses/mouths) that day is now making its way through my system, one exhausted, achy muscle group at a time.


I have family members who were down and out for the count over Christmas - actually unable to get off the sofa - quarantined, able to interact only with other infected members of the family.  I wanted to go round and wrap them all in Christmas garlands and twinkle lights so that their barfy, fever of 104, nearly comatose holiday was a bit more festive - except I didn't want to touch them or breathe in their air.  I'm kind-hearted and all, but not after I've already suffered from my own week of the flu.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Jack Lemmon with Maracas

Jack Lemmon with maracas Some Like It Hot 1959
Screenplay Wilder & Diamond after a story by Lomax and Thereon

Last night we shared Some Like it Hot with Rissa for the first time.  As soon as she saw the B&W hit the screen - she rolled her eyes.

"Is the whole movie like this?"

"Yes.  Give it a chance."

Eye roll with accompanying sigh - subtext: "Why, oh why, do my parents keep showing me stuff that just isn't cool?"

She yawns her way through the first act, but then we're in to Jack Lemmon and Tony Curtis in drag - and this line from Jack Lemmon's Jerry as he watches Marilyn Monroe:

"Will you look at that! Look how she moves! It's like Jell-O on springs. Must have some sort of built-in motor or something. I tell you, it's a whole different sex."

And that gave us our first of many true snorts of laughter from our oh-so-disaffected 12 year old.  Lemmon is irresisible as Daphne - watching him do the tango and then relive his romantic night with accompanying maracas is priceless.   David and I barked laughter over Wilder and Diamond's dialogue - yes some is a little dated (remember this was 1959, and same-sex marriage was NOWHERE on the radar), but when Daphne/Jerry is trying to explain Josephine/Joe about her/his great night, Lemmon is PERFECTION!!

Jerry: Have I got things to tell you!
Joe: What happened?
Jerry: I'm engaged.
Joe: Congratulations. Who's the lucky girl?
Jerry: I am!
Joe: WHAT?!
Jerry: Osgood proposed to me! We're planning a June wedding.
Joe: What are you talking about? You can't marry Osgood.
Jerry: Why, you think he's too old for me?
Joe: Jerry, you can't be serious.
Jerry: Why not? He keeps marrying girls all the time.
Joe: But, you're not a girl! You're a guy, and, why would a guy wanna marry a guy?
Jerry: For security! Look, I know there's a problem, Joe.
Joe: I'll say there is.
Jerry: His mother - we need her approval, but I'm not worried because I don't smoke.
Joe: Jerry. There's another problem, like what are you gonna do on your honeymoon?
Jerry: We've been discussing that. He wants to go to the Riviera but I'm kinda leaning toward Niagra Falls.
Joe: My God.
Jerry: I don't expect it to last Joe. I'll tell him when the time's right.
Joe: Like when?
Jerry: Like right after the ceremony. Then we get a quick annulment, he makes a nice little settlement on me and I keep getting those alimony checks every month.
Joe: Jerry listen to me there are laws, conventions. It's just not been done.
Jerry: Joe this may be my last chance to marry a millionaire.
Joe: Oh, Jerry — Jerry, will you take my advice? Forget about the whole thing, will ya? Just keep telling yourself: you're a boy, you're a boy.
Jerry: I'm a boy.
Joe: That's the boy.
Jerry: I'm a boy. I'm a boy. I wish I were dead. I'm a boy. Boy, oh boy, am I a boy. Now, what am I gonna do about my engagement present?
Joe: What engagement present?
Jerry: Osgood gave me a bracelet.
Joe: [examining it] Hey, these are real diamonds!
Jerry: Of course they're real! What do you think? My fiance is a bum?
Rumour has it that the maracas were added after a test screening because the audience was laughing so hard the rest of the dialogue was getting lost. 
The best part?  At bedtime Rissa said to David "I could see why you'd want to show me that.  It was awesome."

Monday, December 17, 2012

Demon on my Chest

So you know when you feel like this?? 
The Nightmare, Fuseli 1781

A toddler stuck his fingers in my mouth last weekend and I am now fucked.  Because why?  Because an adult's immune system sucks.  Kids?  Kids can be infected with a freaking alien plague, take some Dimetapp and be fine.

"Mummy I'm good to go.  If I stayed home, I'd miss recess/hockey/dance/horse back riding!  Time is a wastin'!"

"You have a fever of 103!"

"I feel nothing - let's go!!!" *

We all have our signals - that first feeling where you know, you just know that you're fucked with whatever illness has insidiously infiltrated your person.  Me?  My legs ache.  David, it's his throat.  Rissa, she starts sniffling.

So yesterday, when my legs felt a little off, it was just a matter of time before I was caught in the toddler virus vortex.  The entire back of my body hurts.  The back of my eyeballs, head, lungs, ass, legs, arms, throat, tongue, shoulders...  uterus...    I'm pretty sure that I can feel the tonsils and adenoids that I had removed when I was 11.

I have things to do today.  I have a whole list of shit that needs to be done.  It's a week until Christmas!!!  I had a day planned with pre-holiday tasks that began with doing (and this is just how dumb I am) my 42 minutes of exercise.  Yes, I am THAT dumb - I am still considering exercising - even though I know that you're supposed to rest when you're sick.  Thing is?  I'm worried that I won't be able to sleep tonight if I don't exercise.  Jogging would be overly ambitious, I'm 'with it' enough to recognize that.  But walking?  Not at my regular pace (that would be silly), but at a completely reasonable lower speed that might trick my body into thinking that it actually did expend energy?  That is doable.  Except that I can't tell David that I did it.  His last words before he left the house today were "Get some rest." Accompanied by a meaningful 'you will be in so much trouble if you don't' look.

So here I sit, clad in David's extra-large bathrobe, the personification of pathetic, trying to figure out if there's a way to get away with being stupid, instead of watching Buffy and/or Firefly all day.  Oh God, I really AM sick.  The virus has hit my brain too!!

Snuggling in one's partner's robe can mask a lot.

*Please for the love of all deities - DON'T send your child to school when they have a fever!  They are NOT well, even if they think they are.  Don't be the parent of Typhoid Frickin' Mary and start a flu/cold epidemic because it was inconvenient for you to take a day to look after your kid. 

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Too sad to be funny

So you know how I posted about Jeff Buckley's cover of Hallelujah?  I didn't reckon it would shuffle onto our playlist last night as we were driving home from Toronto, nor did I think that it would make me cry for a completely different and soul-shattering reason than at the beginning of the day. 

I'm just hoping that all the cool people in Heaven are taking each and everyone of those victims into their arms.  I know my friend Shannon will be doing it along with my Gran, Granny, Kay, Grandad and Vivian.  Maybe even Jeff Buckley himself will sing for them.

Hold your kids close.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Best Cover of Hallelujah - EVER


I'm crying now.  I'm crying because I didn't know until just moments ago, that Jeff Buckley died in 1997.  What the?  He died 15 years ago?!? And what do you mean you don't know who Jeff Buckley is?   Well, Jeff Buckley has the title of this blog post - that's who he is.  The best cover of Leonard Cohen's  Hallelujah EVER.  The first time I heard his version was on an episode of The West Wing in 2002.  It was so freaking beautiful and affecting that I found myself reaching blindly for David's hand as I started to sob uncontrollably.  This morning, I was all excited to learn more about him and he's freaking dead!  Had he lived, he'd be 2 years older than I am now.

I'm crying because I was so happy to be reminded of how brilliant he is and only just now found out that I should be saying was.   I was completely clueless that he had already shuffled off this mortal coil.  I'm crying because he'll never record another song and that sucks like a freaking black hole.  I feel cut off at the knees.

Those 'hit you upside the head' emotions...  Most of the time you cover them up, push them down... you don't delve.  It's too painful.  Go ahead,  brand me a 'sensitive soul.' I freely admit it.  Tears coat my throat if I really think about John Lennon when I hear Imagine on the radio.  I get overcome by the song and then I remember that he's dead and if I don't fill my chest with ice, it's as if I just heard that he was shot.

Eva Cassidy's cover of Over the Rainbow can send me off the deep end. When Brandon Lee died - I remember feeling devastated.  And you're probably thinking to yourself, Brandon Lee?  What the...?  Like Bruce Lee's kid?  Yep.  Bruce Lee's kid.  And I don't know why it hurt.  Maybe because he was young and had a life of promise.   I could see it there... just there... just beyond The Crow and then... nothing.  Dead.

So this morning I honour Jeff Buckley.  Those of you who haven't experienced him, listen to the song yourself.  I defy you not to be moved.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Downton Abbey Style!

Jim Carter & Phyllis Logan from Masterpiece's Downton Abbey

So you know how, when you're hosting a big shindig and you pretty much become relegated to the roles of Butler and/or Head Housekeeper?  Well I have to say that David plays a mean Carson to my Mrs. Hughes and we rocked the crap out of open-house entertaining last Saturday at our Annual Holiday Tea.

"Hi!!  So great to see you!"  kiss/hug/chuck upon shoulder - gracious acceptance of fetching holiday ornament/wine/liqueur/truffles/trays of treats.

"What can I get you to drink?  We have warm cider...."

"Oh, cider would be lovely!"

"We also have mulled wine this year...."

"Mulled wine?!?  Why I've never had mulled wine, I'll have some of that..."

"You just come right on in here, while I get you that drink!!" 

First sip of mulled wine hits the palate... "My, that's got a wee bit of a kick to it!"

"How is (fill in name of non-attending spouse/child/parent) doing?"

"Great!!  Great!!!  S/he/they just finished a (blank)."

"That's amazing!  I was going to ask about the (blank)!"


"Please make yourself at home.  And eat!!  Eat!!  Rissa's labeled all the food types on the table!*  I'll just grab the door."

This basic conversation repeats in an endless loop from 2:30 to 7:30 p.m.  I poured out as many as 6 mugs of mulled wine for myself, but drank only one over the course of the day as I kept putting them down when I was answering the door or replenishing the Nanaimo Bars/Norwegian Sugar Balls/Gingerbread.

"Hey folks!!  There's chili!!! There is a ginormous pot of chili in a slow cooker on the counter!!! Help yourselves!!"

"Put the cat down!"

"How old is he now?" gazing upon adorable toddling child.

"Ten months!"


"Who wanted the Butterscotch Schnapps in their cider??"

"Mummy, the baby is totally falling asleep in my arms!"

For David and me it is the opportunity to open our home to all our friends and family while spending pretty much no quality time with anyone - apart from the first two guests who show.  It's kind of like your wedding day.  Filled to the brim with people you love, but all a blur... For Rissa - it's the greatest game of MANHUNT ever played.  We had 15 children between the ages of 4 and 14 racing through the house - cracking the caulking on the crown mouldings with their combined weight and ear-splitting shrieks of holiday joy. 

But, by the end of the day - when I count off the 75 or so folks who made it out and seemed to have a good time - it's always worth it.  It's our tradition.  And (but wait there's more!) our wine rack is now totally stocked!  We won't have to pay for a bottle of wine over the holidays!!

Day turns to evening and then to night.  The three of us (plus various cats) snuggle down on the sofa in the family room - the fireplace ablaze, the TV bright and we watch Babe and smile and sniff - because Farmer Hoggett had it right... "That'll do Pig...  That'll do."

*A few years back, I got these nifty little ceramic placecards to put in front of food trays, which you can write on with dry-erase markers.  I presented them to Rissa last week.

"What are they Mummy?"

"They are to label the dishes on the buffet table."

Nearly leaping out of her skin she's so excited!!!  "You mean I can label specific treats and desserts?!?"

"You can indeed!  All you need is a dry-erase marker!"

"Could I get extra-special new dry-erase markers - you know just for the Holiday Tea?!?"

"Whatever decorates your gingerbread house kid."

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Musical Theatre Geeks of the world unite!


I might have developed this... uh....little... small... (wee really)... obsession with Tim Minchin.  Nothing warranting  Mr. Minchin seeking out a restraining order or anything.  It's totally the Bloggess's fault.  In September of this year, she mentioned him in one of her posts.  I watched some clips on You Tube and fell hard for this comic musical genius.


I'm talking Donny Osmond/Shaun Cassidy hard.*   I want a poster of him for my bedroom ceiling. I'm this close to imagining what kind of eyes our babies would have.  Imagine scribblers filled with Mrs. Heather Minchin in curly letters, embellished with illuminated hearts and glitter glue.  

The dude is so freaking cool - it's hard to impart that kind of adoration in a non-sexual/stalker context.  He is the most profanely profound comedian/musician I've ever had the pleasure of experiencing.  Think Louis C.K. as a composer-singer.  Minchin has the goods, and for a guy who doesn't read music he will blow your fucking mind with his piano playing.

(Mr. Minchin - I'm really not a stalker - nothing at ALL close to Kathy Bates in ANY context here - I promise - just your average Canadian Musical Theatre Geek - who salivates just a titch when you squeeze 25 syllables into a musical phrase and can articulate them all.)

Last week we drove 45 minutes to see a simulcast of Jesus Christ Superstar from the UK.   I would have gone to see it anyway as Superstar is my favourite rock opera of all time (the best of Rice and Webber), but when I found out that Tim Minchin was starring as Judas, I lost my mind... in an adorable, not-at-all-threatening, nor indicating any sort of psychotic break, way.

The production itself was fan-fucking-tastic!  (It wasn't perfect, there were some musical direction things that I didn't agree with... DON'T, for the love of Ian Gillan, go for the Big Broadway  Finish ANYWHERE in Superstar.  It doesn't need it.)    The tour was well-staged, well-acted not too dancy-dancy...  Melanie C as Mary Magdalene killed it, Ben Foster did a great job as Jesus, Alex Hanson as Pilate was delicious,  Pete Gallagher's first notes as Ciaphus nearly had me creaming my pants... but Minchin?  Was freaking brilliant as Judas.   I didn't know he had the chops to sing it - as that epiphany hit me, I fell harder and harder for the dude.  Judas's (spoiler alert) death had me in tears - and I wasn't even anywhere close to my period.

Then there's Christmas Day!  Less than a month from getting the chance to see Superstar - Les Mis will be in theatres.  Please, please, please don't let them fuck it up!  Please!  Let it be the perfect thing for my family to do on Christmas Day!!!   Please, please, please!!!  Let me get chills, let me weep, let it be all that a musical theatre geek could hope for!!!**

*(OR for people a decade younger... Michael Jackson/Rick Astley hard.... OR for people two decades younger... Backstreet Boys/NSync hard... if you're any younger than that you probably shouldn't be reading this blog.)

**Spoiler Alert - Les Mis (apart from Anne Hathaway's I Dreamed a Dream and Eddie Redmayne's Empty Chairs at Empty Tables) did NOT live up to its hype.  For the love of all that's holy in musical theatre give us some fucking long shots!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Weight Loss Secrets Revealed!!


Pssssst.... over here!

You won't have to starve yourself!  You won't have to exercise!!!  Watch how these other women lost 20, 40, even as much as 75% of their total body weight! 

Take a couple of tsp of apple cider vinegar before every meal!  Spoonfuls of honey speed the metabolism!  Acacia will increase your lean muscle!

And... it's all bullshit.  Bullshit to sell women useless shit.  'Cause you know what?  There is no quick fix for ANYTHING in life.  You want to lose weight?  You need to exercise and eat sensibly.  You want to eliminate lines around your mouth and your eyes after the fact?  Too frickin' late - you should have stayed out of the sun and never smiled.*  You want to save for your retirement?  Put 10% of your salary into an RRSP every year.

Sure, you can lose 5 lbs a week!  Totally doable!  Wait, wait... why not go at it with gusto and lose 40 lbs in a month?!?  You'll be SO svelte, SO trim... and you will gain ALL the weight back because that sort of rapid weight loss is a freaking fairy tale, despite what most women's magazine covers will tell you.

Woman's World just kills me.   Always a story about weight loss on the front.  Always an incredible sugar/fat/carb filled picture of a recipe that you MUST make.  Miracle weight loss annnnnnnnnnd baked goods.

"You look GREAT!!  Have you been doing Atkins?"




"Cabbage Soup?"


"Israeli Army?   Dukan?  Grapefruit??"

"Nope, Nope and NOPE!  I'm doing this amazing plan..."


"It's astounding!  It improves my sleep, I'm less depressed and I have MORE energy!!"


"It's..."  beckon, beckon, surreptitious look, for all those desperate-to-be-thin people who might mob a girl for the information  "...sensible eating and EXERCISE... "

'Cause here's the deal folks.  Recommended weight loss is 2 lbs a week AT MOST.  That's 8 lbs a month - not 20, not 40... And you know why?  Because when you sensibly adapt your eating habits and exercise you drop weight gradually, and your body?  It doesn't think that it's starving and your metabolism won't  be completely fucked.

I'm on the treadmill 6 days a week for at least 40 minutes at a time - some of that time actually jogging - and wonders of wonders!!!  Sure enough, I've lost weight and my flabby thighs are less flabby.  So in fact, NOT a miracle - it's exercise.  And I'm not saying that a person has to jog.  Do excercise that you LIKE for at least 30 minutes a day - otherwise you won't keep doing it.  Back bothers you?  Get a recumbent cycle.  Don't like being on your feet?  Swim at the Y.  You like to dance?  Grab a copy of Just Dance for the Wii. Me?  I like to walk .  I  hop on the treadmill and watch a tv show on my tablet -  that's 42 minutes - then I'm done for the day and I'm so far up the moral high ground that my nose bleeds.

It's not rocket science and it's not magic - it's working at it.  Take it from a gal who is prone to depression herself, working at it will make you healthier and happierYeah, sometimes on a Saturday morning, it's a pain in the ass and you grumble most of your way through it, but you WILL feel better.  I'm not just blowing smoke up your ass and you don't have to pay me for it.  Oh and another thing?  Anyone in their 40s is ALLOWED to have lines on their face!  They're not crow's feet, they're smile lines and what you should really worry about is if you DON'T have them.
*Botox or plastic surgery can help with wrinkles and lines.  Sure, you look like a freaking robotic doll, but if it makes you happy and you've got the cash, go for it!  Whatever creams your panties.  However, there is absolutely NO inexpensive 'fine line' cream that you can grab at Shoppers Drug Mart that will turn back the clock.  Do NOT waste your money.

Monday, December 10, 2012

How do snakes have sex?

Asks Rissa.  At bedtime.  Because she's crazy.

"Mummy, how do snakes actually have sex?"

"Pardon?"   Gear shift.  I was mildly confused as the last thing she'd said had been:

"Mummy what if you just started sprouting extra ears all over your head?"

As to the snake sex thing, I really hadn't a clue.  I was pretty much in the dark as to the logistics of reptile mating.*  "Well I imagine the male has a penis and the female has some sort of vagina..."

"Mummy!!!!  What if the male snake IS the penis?"

I think I then made a Scooby Doo sound.


"No seriously Mummy!  It totally could be true!  The male snake would BE the penis and then he would just..."

"Put his entire body inside the female?"

"Maybe....  Although that would probably be a lot for a female snake to take...  Wait!  Wait!  What if all snakes are just males..."

"They aren't."

"But what if they were?"

"So basically, if there were no female snakes, and the male snake IS the penis - what you're saying is that there would be a bunch of penises slithering around on the ground?"

"Mummy.... EEEEEEEEEEW!!"

"Dude.  You totally started it."

* Oh and just in case you were wondering, male snakes have two-headed penises.  The hemi-penis.  (See the diagram below - third section up from the tail.)  When I told Rissa that - she said there needed to be a different word.  "Plurenis" is what she came up with.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Never take pictures of me when I'm talking...

Smiling... laughing - that's okay, but if you catch me on film/pixels while I'm talking,  I look like I'm either in the midst of an epileptic fit, morphing into a velociraptor or channelling Lucille Ball in one of the episodes where she has to deal with stomping grapes or packaging chocolates.

Below is a pic of me giving my Toast to the Groom at a wedding from October.  I know, HOT, right?  Who wouldn't want to tap that?  Later we played Throw Wedding Favors into Heather's Mouth!

NEVER when I'm talking.  There is a plethora of photographic evidence from more than a handful of public events where I've had to give a speech.  I'm sure that I looked just fine actually giving the speech, but catch any of the individual seconds of those speeches candidly?  It's like I'm having a stroke, and instead of calling 911, the photographer took pictures of it.  DUDE!!!  How about a little fucking dignity here?

And as I've already let that horse out of the barn - here are some others...

Help me!  I have lock jaw!!

Brain aneurysm!  I am having a brain aneurysm!!!
Nothing to do with public speaking but here's when I got too friendly with an alpaca and it spat on me.   Here is the before...

Oh aren't you the sweetest little alpaca I've ever seen!
 And here is the after...

I totally deserved that.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Don't show anyone your boobs online!!!

"Don't show anyone your boobs online!"

"Don't type anything that you wouldn't want your grandparents to see!!"  I know her friends, they're all good kids and maybe I'm worrying over nothing at this point, but my mind goes to these freaky places.  You know the ones - where my tween daughter is pregnant and hooked on Crack and debating whether she's going to keep the baby.  Aaaaaand the angina kicks in.

Ever since she hit puberty and had a defined waist - my maternal panic has gone into overdrive.  There are dudes out there who want to have SEX with my baby.  The summer she was 11 we'd go for family walks and we'd be garnering some male attention, I'd preen a bit and think to myself  "Well I guess that I look good today..."  until I saw that it wasn't ME they were looking at - it was my daughter.

"Don't eyeball her you PERV!! SHE IS 11!!" I wanted to get her a t-shirt "I am NOT as old as you think I am".  And it's not  just teenaged boys - it's MEN.  Like men my age.  "I will END you - you freak!  She is a baby!!!!!"

Bay Moon Studio pin

I'm so fucked.  Rissa was always an attractive girl, but what with her dance training and her height and her lovely alabaster skin - she's now frickin' gorgeous.  And the more gorgeous she gets the more I lose my mind.

Because it is sooooo much different than when I was young.  It's no longer a case of "You show me yours, I'll show you mine."  It's morphed into "You show me yours via webcam and I'll post it to the entire universe and have you labeled a dirty slut."

My mind is filled with Urban Mythological "lipstick parties" where boys have girls with different colours of lipstick give them blow jobs in the dark.

"Don't put anyone's penis in your mouth!"

"Mummy.  Eeeeeeeeeew!"

"I'm just saying...."


A brain wave comes to me.  Agree with her.  "Yes it IS gross and you should therefore wait until you are finished university before going anywhere near that.  Plus boys never shower enough and it would be really stinky."


"The minute you start to get tingly around ANYONE - you tell me and we'll put you on the pill!  And you'll have a diaphragm.  And an IUD."

"Mummy, I'm only 12..."

"Yes, but you don't LOOK 12 and dudes start to think with their penises really early in life.  Trust me on this."

Please, oh please, please, please.  Keep my daughter safe - keep her smart - keep her confident.  Let her have moxie.  Let her know the difference between a guy who just wants to get in her pants and a guy who wants to cherish her heart.  Or girl. In fact a girl would be great!  At least if she has a girlfriend she can't get pregnant.


Under Pressure

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

And that's how I accidentally took anti-depressants...

I'm spending so much time stoned now.  Not REALLY stoned.  Just migraine medication stoned.  And menstrual medication.  And arthritis medication.  I slept for 4 extra hours one morning after taking the most innocent-looking of pills.  It was a wee trapezoid shape - so wee and pretty.   It knocked me out.  It was the best nap I've had in a long time.  A deep sleep where drool seeped from the corner of my mouth - leaving me feeling like a contented bear greeting the spring.

Occasionally when I'm reaching into the pill container in my purse - I'll empty an assortment of pills and I have NO idea what they are.  The trapezoid ones are some sort of muscle relaxant and I know I should have those with food because they're hard on a gal's stomach.  But the yellow ones, with the number on the one side and the random letters on the other?  Not a clue.  Aceta-something?  I am smart enough to know not to take any of these pills with alcohol, but other than that?  Is it a T3 with caffeine?  Because if it is, I can't take that after noon on account of my crazy-ass sensitivity to caffeine.

When I was 19, I was sent to Dr. Shrink because of chronic insomnia.   I just couldn't sleep at night.  My body was exhausted, but my mind would NOT shut down.  I'd recently had my existential angst/awakening to mortal fear and my GP suggested that seeing a shrink might be helpful.  The shrink put me on sleeping pills that knocked me out.  I would wake up all muzzy headed and remained kind of vague the entire day.  A couple of months later - I had a check-up with my GP and he asked how the anti-depressants were working out for me.

"Excuse me?"

"The anti-depressants that Dr. Shrink put you on.  Are they helping?"  He showed me the note in my chart from Dr. Shrink.

"So these aren't sleeping pills?"

"No, but they can help with sleep."

The next visit with Dr. Shrink I asked him why he hadn't told me that I was on anti-depressants.

"Oh, but I did."

"Ummmmm.... no you didn't."

"Yes I'm certain I did."

"I'm pretty certain that you didn't."

So... arguing with a shrink never makes a person seem sane  At best you sound whiny, at worst you come off as paranoid.  I stopped my arguing and left it at this:  "Okay... let's just say that this will be my last session with you, you Gaslighting bastard."

You know what caused the insomnia?  Caffeine.  Our family's habit was to take tea after dinner.  I had developed a sensitivity to caffeine and couldn't sleep because of Tetley's Tea.  (This was before I discovered Capt. Picard and Earl Grey - hot.) The smallest amounts of caffeine after lunch can ruin my sleep.  After a major operation, I was put on T3s with codeine and caffeine.  I was exhausted, dying for sleep, but awake all night because of the caffeine.  David called the surgeon and asked for T3s without the caffeine.

She was dumbfounded.  "There's not enough caffeine in those pills to keep a person up."

"Yes, in a normal person, that might be so," replied David.  "However, we are dealing with Heather and she is a freak of nature."

The good thing about my body being so freakishly sensitive is that I know almost immediately when something is wrong with me.  The bad thing about my body being so freakishly sensitive is that almost anything can send my body off into the land of disproportionate symptoms. Too much sugar?  Dizzy.  Too little protein?  Dizzy.  Flickering fluorescent lights?  Migraine.  Wallowing in post coital splendour for too long?  Bladder infection.

My Mom still looks at me and asks "Where the hell did you come from?"  She is healthy as the proverbial horse and my Dad - apart from cholesterol issues is doing just great.  Me?  I am the delicate flower prone to getting high off of caramel.  I can say though, that knowing to avoid caffeine - makes it WAY easier to sleep at night.  Without mis-prescribed anti-depressants.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Community Theatre CATS!

Pretty much can't be done.  According to one acclaimed costume designer - and this must intoned in a deep, throaty, Katharine Hepburn educated drawl - "There can be only ONE fat cat."

I'm not saying that there aren't svelte dancer bodies in community theatre.  I'm just saying that there aren't enough of them that you'd want to see encased in Lycra, rolling around a stage attempting to lick their nether regions.  Community theatre musicals tend to be filled with middle-aged bodies who have been through life, have found their mates and therefore no longer feel the need to go to the gym and keep toned.  Your average community theatre production of CATS! would have a cast full of Grizabellas, Old Deuteronomys and Jennyanydots.

There are certain shows that you just can't do in our small provincial town.  Even in 2012, most of our residents are the WASPiest people you'll ever see.  We can be chock a block with whores, pimps and crooks on our stage, but try to have a balanced portrayal of the real world with real skin tones?  It ain't gonna happen here.  Sure we can do Little Shop of Horrors, but Chiffon, Crystal & Ronnette are not going to be black.  South Pacific, West Side Story?  Ain't happening unless it's completely colour-blind casting.  Although some of the older generation wouldn't even pause at the thought of "throwing on a little more makeup" on the Puerto Ricans.  Hairspray?  Not a chance.  Ours is the town where, when we were looking for diversity for our cast of hippies in Hair, I went up to a stranger on the school playground, who happened to be black, and ask if she could sing.   Instead of slapping me across the face for racial profiling, thank God she took the question in the spirit in which it was asked, and 'dropped trou' with the rest of the cast. 

Basically, we're stuck doing theatre by and for white people (which if you really think about it - is what happens - even on Broadway). Gypsy, My Fair Lady, The Sound of Music, Sweeney Todd, Best Little Whorehouse in Texas... Decades from now, when the rights to The Lion King come up, unless it's an all-white cast who somehow manage to be fabulous puppeteers AND dancers,  it won't be staged here.  Sure, community theatres can get away with Fiddler on the Roof - although the closest synagogue is a 1/2 hour away in any direction from our town, and most productions think nothing of having actors in 'Jewface" with over-the-top wigs and/or facial hair.  And you know why?  Because there just aren't enough Jews in our neck of the woods to be offended. 

So the way we get to push the envelope?  We do Jesus Christ Superstar every ten years or so - which as late as 2002, still had the religious right protesting the show's blasphemous nature. (Apparently Jesus would never want to rock out.)  Rocky Horror comes out every now and again - and we've done The Full Monty.  Oh, the titillation of naked or nearly naked neighbours onstage!  They just aren't black neighbours and you still wouldn't want to see them encased in Lycra.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Stumpy the Cat

Minuit's delicate derriere

That poem by Sandburg, with the line "The fog comes in on little cat feet"? Well, Sandburg didn't know Minuit.  Minuit is 'rubinesque.'  She's not quite as round as she is long, but she does a fair impersonation of that cat.  She is the antithesis of most cat adjectives, being neither stealthy nor particular graceful.
Minuit's version of "Fat Cat Capsizing"

The fat happened when we lived in NJ for 6 months.  While Stateside, she became reclusive.  I'm not saying Grey Gardens reclusive, but she now has a tendency to growl and run whenever the doorbell rings.  She's skittish - taking to darting ahead of you on staircases and hiding under the dining room table.  I think maybe one of those times when she was racing ahead on the stairs, she wound up underneath David's feet and hasn't ever been the same since.  She's like a paranoid drug addict.

With all her extra weight, Minuit STUMPS around the house.  She STUMPS down the hall, she STUMPS to her food bowl, she STUMPS to the bed.  And now the Dean Martin Roast for Minuit:

"She so fat, she makes a grunting noise when she jumps up onto the couch.  We have mistaken her footsteps for that of our 12 year old daughter.  She can't ever play the "I'm invisible" game with the other cats because you can hear her walking.   She's so heavy that when she sits on my abdominal aorta - I almost pass out."

Plus she stinks.  For an added "eeeeeew" factor, if you scare her - she gives a panicked jump and squirts from her frightened cat's ass.

We've tried to limit her food intake, but with three cats in the household I can't spend an entire day monitoring who eats what - it would mean that I'd have to lock her away for 1/2 hour at a time, morning and night, while she eats - basically I would be putting her into solitary confinement because she's fat.  That's never good for a gal's psyche - human or feline. I'm thinking she might just have to stay fat...  We've tried to get her to chase a laser but she's smart enough to know that we're moving the laser and she just looks at our hand.  She sporadically chases after and fetches tin foil balls - but I'm thinking the 5 minutes at a time she attempts to gallop isn't enough to get her in shape.  I would love to get David to build a cat exercise wheel and see if I could get her to use it, 'cause she has NO interest in walking on the treadmill with me.

And yet... and yet... she loves to sit on your lap and "prrrrrrowl" in pleasure.  She is adorable when she gets stuck after rolling on her back.  She has tonnes of personality.  She's just... fat.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

There are HOW MANY aisles??

So this week I went to the One Of A Kind Craft Show in Toronto with my friend Meg, a OOAK Toronto Virgin.  This show is SO huge that when you're trying to navigate your way through, you need to give directions like this:

"Okay, go west until you hit the Wawa goose and then take a right until you get to Hudson's Bay..."

Meg was looking up at the aisle markers  - we had started at Y and were making our way backwards.

"This can't possibly start at A!"

Oh yes it can.

There are over 1000 vendors who have each spent, on average, $3000 for a 10 x10 booth to sell their wares. Just think about that folks.  They have to sell at least $3000 to break even.  Or they could consider it $3000 worth of advertising - which, when you're a small business owner - advertising should be a large part of your budget anyway - but $3000?!?  That would mean they'd have to sell $100 items at $30 to break even.

For those of us who are relatively cash shy - the purchase of something at even the $30 range causes a moment's pause.  Let alone the most adorable owl pillow for $68.  I want that disposable income that would allow me to buy this from Velvet Moustache at booth B-59:

or this from Kelly Grace at booth K-08:

or this from Gosia Art at booth S-07:

Plus this by Floyd Elzinga at booth K-04

Or pop art by Denial Art at booth 1-44

Or these fan-freaking-tastic purses made from reclaimed books and belts!!!  By Noelle Hamlyn at booth W-43

But just because I can't personally afford all these fabulous things, doesn't mean that you, or a loved one can't.  Pass their info around - support these wonderfully talented folks!