Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Las Vegas Adventure

Vegas was insanity, as Vegas always is. Though I daresay this one was the most fun of my four Vegas vacations thus far.

It was a larger group of about 12, comprising equal teams of kids vs. grown-ups. Note that the average age of the kids' team was about 30, so maybe "kids" was a misnomer… but if there is one place that inspires childish wonderment, Las Vegas is it. Especially so because three of the five "kids" had never been to Vegas before.

Anyhoo, both teams partied hard, had late nights, and worked together to take over The Mai Tai Bar at Imperial Palace. Some of us saw Kà, the latest Cirque show, and we were in the front row! It was fantastic, since all of the action happened not an arm's length away from us. Though the highlight has got to be when the performers had to stop Faye from climbing onto the edge of the flaming fireball pit to take a picture of us. Andy and Pete opted for seats further back, which was a shame, because one of the performers had confided her preference for bald men. You missed out, Pete!!

The weekend was full of sightseeing, gambling, clubbing, and even fence-hopping in eveningwear… there was even a helicopter tour of the Grand Canyon! The latter was Dave's birthday present from both sets of parents, who joined us in the helicopter. We flew over Hoover Dam, into the Canyon, landed for a champagne lunch, and then watched the sun set over the desert. The setting sun scorched the land to brilliant reds and deep browns, as the sky became deeper and deeper blue. And to top it all off, we flew back to Vegas over The Strip as all the lights came on. The experience was positively fantastic, and I would highly recommend it to anyone. Thanks, Ben, Chris, Margaret and Wayne!!!

Since returning, Dave and I have been catching up on all the domestic stuff we'd neglected in anticipation of Vegas. Namely, Christmas shopping, cleaning, and all the blissfully mundane stuff you find yourself missing during periods of prolonged adventure. Luckily, we've now finished most of our Christmas shopping… now the question is, will we stay sufficiently organized to ensure that all those cards and presents get into the mail on time? (Karla and Dave organized…?! Uh oh…) Stay tuned to find out!

And in case Ottawa life was not exciting enough with the parliamentary chaos we returned to, now the streets have degenerated to outright pandemonium. The Ottawa bus system -- which, for you non-Ottawans reading this, is the main way anyone gets anywhere in this city -- has gone on strike, thus rendering all traffic to standstill status. This is moreso exacerbated by the 30+ cm of snow we've had thus far, much of which has not yet been ploughed. It's bedlam out there.

But if anything, it's an absolute reinforcement of our choice to buy within walking distance of work. All of a sudden, those many extra thousands we paid for location seem a lot smaller. And better still, for the duration of the strike we've bargained out our extra parking to our suburban friends, on the grounds that they help us shovel our long-assed driveway! Everyone wins!! :-D

So what's next for Helga and Hume? Well, a Hume-less Helga will be hitting her hometown, The Peg, for the weekend to celebrate her grandparents' anniversary. It'll be a short trip, but hopefully I can still see a few friends along the way… wish me luck! :-)

Saturday, November 22, 2008


So I normally have no love for Facebook-chain-type personalized-quiz things, but a friend had this posted, and I found it to be a brilliant idea.

Everyone, have a go at this! The song list below is pretty eclectic, so there's likely a few that you'll know...

Step 1: Put your music player on shuffle.
Step 2: Post the first line from the first 50 songs that play, no matter how embarrassing.
Step 3: Bold out the songs when someone guesses both artist and title correctly.
Step 4: Looking them up on Google or any other search engine is CHEATING!
Step 5: If you like the game post your own!

Karla's Lyric List:
1. Jackie Cane was everybody’s sugar / she gave it all, wherever it took her
2. Stand up, sit down baby / It’s gonna be a formal dress-down heyday
3. Don’t tell your man what he don’t do right / nor tell him all the things that make you cry
4. Something has to change / un-deniable dilemma / boredom’s not a burden anyone should bear
5. What do I do to get your attention / what do I do to get this through/ Not the cool kid’s clique / Not the cool fake hits
6. To pretend no one can find / the fallacies of morning rose
7. Can’t explain all the feelings that you’re making me feel / my heart’s in overdrive and you’re behind the steering wheel
8. Black fingernails, red wine / I wanna make you all mine
9. (Check 1 1 2) I came into this world as a reject / Look into these eyes, and you’ll see the size of the fact
10. Consider this a sign / This is a train in the night / And now it’s time for you to go / you know you’ve had a healthy life, boy
11. Must have been mid-afternoon / I could tell by how far the child’s shadow stretched out and…
12. I found me a reason, so check me tomorrow / we’ll see if I’m leaking
13. In pitch dark, I go walking in your landscape / Broken branches trip me as I speak
14. Load up on guns, bring your friends / It’s fun to lose and to pretend
15. And you know you’re gonna lie to you, in your own way / And you know you’re gonna lie to you, in your own way
16. I am sitting in the morning / At a diner on the corner
17. See that boy just standing over there? Stopped me today and said he liked my hair
18. Ahhh… Living without you / I know all about you / I have run you down into the ground / Spread disease about you over town
19. So I’m all surrounded by the things I thought I’d put away / And I’m all surrounded by the things I thought I’d put away
20. I am falling, drifting, trapped inside the story / Am I chained to the moon, or will the sun take over in the morning?
21. I’m taking back the knowledge / I’m taking back the gentleness / I’m taking back the ritual / I’m giving in to sweetness
22. Bones, sinking like stones, all that we fought for / Homes, places we’ve grown, all of us are done for
23. I wanna know where my confidence went / One day it all disappeared
24. Looking out a dirty old window / Down below the cars in this city go rushing by
25. Here’s my new century, I’m erasing history / You need to make corrections! You need to pay attention!
26. Lights go out and I can’t be saved / Tides that I try to swim against
27. And the sky was made of amethyst / and all the stars, just like little fish
28. Over and over I keep wondering why / Then I give up and see that look in your eyes
29. Sometimes I feel like I can’t move on / Nothing in life is turning me on / But I still see clearly when I see you smiling
30. And so ya wanna be with me, I’ve nothing to give / Won’t lie and say this loving’s best
31. They’ve got you where they want you / Nothing’s ever gonna satisfy you / You think they’ll never buy you / They’re doling out affection, just like a confection
32. Anytime I need to see your face I just close my eyes / And I am taken to a place where your crystal mind and magenta feelings take up shelter in the base of my spine
33. She’ll only come out at night, the lean and hungry type/ Nothing is new, I’ve seen her here before
34. Did you happen to catch or did it happen so fast / what you thought would always last / has passed you by
35. A long time ago we used to be friends / but I haven’t thought of you lately at all
36. Red rain is coming down / Red rain is pouring down all over me
37. The legend lives on from the Chippewa on down / Of the big lake they call Gitche Gumee
38. (Hi, my name is Stereo Mike) … I woke up again this morning with the sun in my eyes / when Mike came over with a script surprise
39. Fuck you, you’re drunk and acting tough / I know you’re scared, you’re not the only one who feels like that now

40. Maybe the time is not for the taking / it comes like a dream when your spirit is aching
41. (HEY!) Some are gonna make it look easy - say moderation is the key
42. Watch the band through a bunch of dancers / Quickly, follow the unknown
43. Break the skin / ‘Cause I can’t tell where your body ends and mine begins
44. How I don’t know how to sing, I can barely play this thing / But you never seem to mind / And you tell me to fuck off when I need somebody to
45. Colour me once, colour me twice / Everything’s gonna turn out nice
46. There’s always the diamond friendly / Sitting in the laugh motel
47. I hold you in my hands, a little animal / and only some dumb idiot would let you go
48. Mine, immaculate dream made breath and skin / I've been waiting for you
49. On your third broken window / your hair full of glass / throw your clothes in the hallway / just a sheet on your back
50. Talking to myself all the way to the station / Pictures in my head of the final destination

Any ring a bell? Post a comment and see if you're right! ;-)

Sunday, November 16, 2008

The Week of Concerts

This past week, Dave's parents came to visit. It was their first time seeing the new house, so naturally, getting their thumbs-up was fairly important.

Not only did they like it, they even helped out with some work around the house! What great guests! ;-) Thanks to them we now have a dryer vent to connect to our dryer. Thanks, guys!

Another big event of the previous week is the Nine Inch Nails concert we attended on Tuesday. Three words: IT WAS FANTASTIC. It started out as a simple, stripped-down rock show, and then evolved into an ultra-psychadelic spectacle involving layered LCD screens. All the best songs were played, even going back as far as 1989's hit, "Wish". Better still, because of Ottawa isn't exactly a hub for angry, artsy music, Scotiabank place was merely a third full... meaning, with minimal pushing and shoving, I was a mere 30 feet from Trent Reznor!!!

One day I will probably write an entire blog post about how wonderful Trent is -- musician, showman, promoter, artist, collaborator, businessman, etc -- but that will have to wait for another time. In the meantime, suffice to say that the concert more than met my expectations, and thus I needed to buy a shirt.

There were a number of cute shirts to choose from, some with the basic NIN logo, some with stylized silhouettes of flying birds... and then I saw the one that was meant for me.

"Art is Resistance"

Brilliant! And absolutely true, too. This shirt and I were clearly made for each other. You'll likely be seeing it on this blog sometime soon.

So, as if that wasn't enough excitement for the week, we also saw Grand Analog and Herbalizer in concert the following Friday.

Grand Analog was a great show, and as it turned out, from Winnipeg! We were chatting after the show, and he was reminiscing about his days at Kelvin High School, trying to sneak over to talk to the St. Mary's girls. We even knew some of the same people! What a small world.

Herbalizer was also a lot of fun, but I must add that they were much older and whiter than I had pictured them. Great music, and it translated well to the tiny club where we saw them. Dave bought his own cool tee there, which is an awesome watercolour/ink design.

Both Herbalizer and Grand Analog are currently touring westward, and I would highly recommend anyone seeing them. Keep an eye out for them!

That concert wrapped up around 2:00AM, so Dave and I decided to drop in on another party we'd been invited to. We had it on good authority that it would be going until sunlight, and indeed it did. We arrived at 2:30, we jammed, danced, and partied with a crew of rowdy statisticians until just after 5AM.

Then, on the way home, we saw a funny sight down Gladstone ave in the wee hours. On this busy, ultra-urban street, moseying down the sidewalk at 5am was... a skunk!!! Who knew there were skunks in the deep downtown of Ottawa? ...and more than that, that they casually stroll down sidewalks like the rest of us? If it had been holding a Starbucks cup, I might not have even looked twice.

If having too much fun is possible, that may very well have happened throughout last week.

This week is looking action-packed as well... tomorrow I fly solo in an hour-long, division-wide presentation (gulp!!). My parents are also flying in for the weekend, and for better or for worse, I can always count on adventure not being far behind them. Plus, tomorrow is the finale of my guilty pleasure, Americas' Next Top Model, so Bea is hosting a party to watch it. Once that show is over, I can finally find out who will take all my money in the ANTM pool I had entered. AND we are spending time with a friend of Daves' who has flown in from Victoria.

But surely after this, it is time to rest...? Nay, I say! After my parents leave on Sunday, we breathe on Monday, and then Dave leaves for Toronto... and then it's the Vegas adventure!

Fun times!! :-)

Monday, November 10, 2008

Wedding and Spamalot

This was a very big weekend. On Saturday, a former room-mate of Dave's (also named Dave) got married. Congratulations, Dave and Jodi! :-D

Dave (mine) was the Master of Ceremonies, whereas I was the random-task-coordinator -- assisting the MC, ensuring the bride and her party had all the various things they needed, herding people from point A to B, helping coordinate the entrances, etc. (and doing all this in three-inch stiletto heels, too!) Anyhow, I was very grateful to have this role, as I didn't actually know anyone at the wedding aside from the bride and groom. Luckily, it didn't take long to hit it off with the awesome, wacky sister of the groom, and we both made sure our table was the rowdiest. (I love being at the "rowdy table"!)

And then yesterday was the closing night of Spamalot, for which Dave and I had second-row tickets. Spamalot is Monty Python's touring broadway musical, and was more or less an extended, song-and-dance-added version of Monty Python and the Holy Grail. Some songs were longer versions of the old and familiar ("We're Knights of the Round Table" and "Brave Sir Robin (Bravely Ran Away)"), and others were wholly new ("This Is The Song That Goes Like This"). The ending was altered to make more sense than the film version, and even included some audience participation. It was also the only musical I've ever attended which ends with an audience singalong. Overall, it was a lot of fun.

Personally, I was not as keen about Spamalot as I was for Wicked, which was another touring Broadway musical we saw back in August. Wicked is a prequel to The Wizard of Oz, back when the Wicked Witch of the West and Glinda, the Good Witch were boarding school room-mates. It starts out like a musical version of Mean Girls and ends up as a slowly unravelling conspiracy, spearheaded by the Wizard himself. While Spamalot was good, Wicked was spectacular.

In fact, Wicked was so good that it inspired me to name my new bass guitar Elphie, after Elphaba, the Wicked Witch of the West. (But more on her later -- suffice to say, we'll be seeing more of her at parties.) ;-)

Nonetheless, it's an action-packed kickoff to a very busy November! Next to report will be Tuesday's Nine Inch Nails concert, and a visit from the in-laws… which event will involve more rowdiness? We shall see.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Hallowe'en in the New House

As some of you know, Dave and I recently bought our first house. We just love it. But more on that later.

We had been looking forward to our first Halloween in the house. Besides the fact that Halloween marked our first official holiday in the house, we were also looking forward to giving candy to trick-or-treat-ers. We even bought extra, so that we wouldn't have to turn anyone away.


And nobody came.

Not one kid.

It's so sad.

On the upside, though, we had a Halloween party to go to later that eve. My friend, Amanda, was hosting a costumed house party complete with a bonafide smoke machine and themed treats (which included cheesecake eyeballs). There was a dance party in the living room, an acoustic singalong later, and then an AC/DC rock-out after that. It was an absolute riot. For more photos, see my Flickr account.

The costumes were incredible, and here are a few highlights:

  • One guy was dressed up as Facebook (the old version, not the new one, for those who are curious)

  • One girl was a shower-gel pouff
  • A couple was a perfect, 100% homemade Fred and Wilma Flinstone

  • Another couple as Hal Johnson and Joann McLeod (anyone remember Body Break??)

  • Another guy was dressed up as a Toronto Stock Exchange broker, in an expensive suit and dynamite strapped to himself.

Other great costumes include a post-Weight-Watchers skeleton, an injured hockey player, an emo fairy, a sunburned tourist, a coked-out musician (complete with upper-lip baby powder), a metal rocker, Mia Wallace, Legolas the elf, Mr. Clean, and a few toga-wearers. As for us, Dave and I were lucky to find anything to use as costumes at all, as most of our posessions are still in boxes! We were still able to throw together some decent costumes, making him into an All Blacks rugby player, and me as Princess Leia. There were even prizes for sexiest costume, most original, and best couple, and the winners had to dance to show off their duds.

At that point, my friend from Spain turned to me and said, "This party is just like the ones you see in American movies!!!"

How awesome is that? ;-)


So now, the only thing left is to decide what to do with all this candy… :-P

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Coldplay Concert: Why being commercial darlings isn't necessarily a bad thing

This week we say the Coldplay concert in Ottawa, and it was incredible.

The band has always been a little special to me, since I initially discovered them during a trip to Italy in 1999. It was a full year before they hit Canadian shores, so I got to look cool by being "the first to know" about them. ;-)

Nonetheless, I was immediately struck by their semblance to another famous British band, Radiohead, who at the time was going off on a fascinating but... err... artistic tangent. Compare "Yellow" (Coldplay, 1999) to "Fake Plastic Trees" (Radiohead, 1995), featuring underfed, sensitive blonde Brit boys falsettoing to mellow music with periodic swells of guitars. Listen for the similar sound between the two.

But from there, Coldplay went more commercial, and Radiohead went more artsy. Radiohead artistically evolved past their old sound, but Coldplay copied that sound and made it more audience/radio-friendly. Coldplay is the Phil Collins to Radiohead's Peter Gabriel.

Now, being the artistic snob that I am, I would normally consider this to be a point entirely in favour of Radiohead. I fully expected Radiohead's concert back in August to thusly be a superior show to Coldplay's. Because, surely, artistic merit of the music is the only important factor to consider in evaluating a concert, right?


Yes, Coldplay has a musical formula, and yes, it's literock pablum, but those boys put on one hell of a show. They told stories, interacted with each other and the audience, and seemed wholly grateful to be there. Basically, their stage presence was a perfect balance between star power and regular-guy-dom. The song choices were ideal, and encouraged audience singalongs. Their encores were ingenious. The lights were spectacular, and even included a song where millions of multicoloured paper butterflies were rained down over the entire audience. My only regret regarding that concert was not going stoned.

The moral of the story is, therefore, that artistic merit of music and enjoyability of a concert are not necessarily linked. While I should have understood this from when I saw Nickelback live (great show, but lukewarm about the music), Coldplay made the point fully sink in. And while I am in no hurry to purchase their next album, you can bet I'll be first in line to get tickets when Coldplay hits Ottawa again.

Who knew? :-)

Friday, October 17, 2008

The All-New, Perfectly Pedestrian Adventures of Helga & Hume

So, after some deliberation, I realized that the title of this blog is a misnomer.

Helga and Hume are no longer having NZ adventures.

We are still having adventures, but more of the run-of-the-mill, life-in-general variety. And while these new adventures are certainly influenced by our fond memories of the Land of the Long White Cloud, our quests are different now. We just moved into our first house, our careers are taking fascinating turns, and we still do lots of fun stuff...

...but the question is, if this is no longer the blog of Helga and Hume's New Zealand adventures, then should there be a blog at all? Can material gained from the familiar, the everyday, and the downright pedestrian truly constitute sufficiently interesting content for a blog?

To be honest, I think the answer is yes -- life can be fascinating in any postal code. So I will keep blogging.

But be warned, if you are looking for current NZ adventures, you are reading the wrong blog. If you want amusing updates and insights, punctuated with the occasional rant, then you are in the right place.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Public Service Announcement

Ok, I'm currently working on a blog post detailing the big updates that have happened in the Helga Hume lives lately. But first, before any more time is lost, I need to make a public announcement for the good of mankind.

Do NOT, I repeat, DO NOT go to see the movie, "Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist".

Yes, the trailers looked goofy and cute. But I assure you, the movie was far from it. Allow me to elaborate, for those of you not yet convinced:
  • The humour was gross and sad, as most comic releif was relegated to a drunk friend of Norahs' who does foolish things. Exceptionally foolish things. A "comic highlight" of the movie was when this friend threw up into a Manhattan bus station toilet (of uncertain flush-status before the vomit), fished around in the filth for her gum, then resumed chewing it.
  • The dialogue was stilted, and had no resemblance to the teenage interactions I recall. The artificial insertion of unrelated topics being discussed by unlikely conversants in utterly inappropriate places was the standard. In other words, two teenage girls who dislike each other are NOT going to suddenly bicker about orgasms at a convenience store cash. Trust me, this does not happen.
  • The plot made no sense. For example, two girls are apparently best friends, but when one gets sloppy drunk, the other one trusts a van full of guys she'd never met before to take her drunk, helpless, passed-out friend home. Is that supposed to be an acceptable decision, somehow?!? Moreover, high school aged kids were breezily going into bars at all hours of the night. Having been a high-school aged kid trying to get into bars, I know for a fact that it isn't terribly easy 100% of the time... and that was in Canada, where the legal drinking age is far younger! And why the hell did the gay (male) characters have a ready supply of bras onhand, anyways?
  • A key character was completely miscast. Given the content of the dialogue and details of the plot, Norah was clearly supposed to be fat, and/or not overly attractive. But given that they cast a lovely girl who might be all of a size 10 (the horror!), her character made very little sense. And why not cast a homelier or huskier girl? All you have to do is look at the obesity rates in the US to see that there is no shortage of overweight people... surely one of them was a prettyish young lady with acting ability! Plus, physically, Michael Cera is no prize, yet he obtained the other title role. Surely it would not herald the apocalypse to have a not-so-attractive female lead in a movie, especially when the movie is written for exactly that kind of character...? ugh.

Basically, this is a movie that was trying to be the next "Juno", and failed miserably. Steer clear, you will thank me later.

If you really, really need to watch a romantic comedy about an unattractive young lady dealing with self-esteem, rent "Penelope" instead. In contrast, Penelope is a warm, whimsical movie with a gentle pace, a sweet tone, sparkling characters, and several good belly laughs. Give it a watch!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

One Year

One year ago today, Dave and I boarded a plane from Auckland, New Zealand to finally come home to Canada.

I had finished work a week or so earlier, and we took our remaining time to explore the northernmost part of New Zealand, the Bay of Islands. It was positively stunning, especially Ninety-mile Beach, which still haunts me to this day.

On the drive to the airport I caught my final glimpse of NZ-specific fauna when I spotted some weird, cartoony pukeko birds. And then we checked in to the airport, managed to get our overheavy bags checked, and prepared for a very, very long day of travel.

Due to passing the Date Line, last year we got two August 12ths. And the travel took so long, it ate up all of both days. To spend some time with our respective families, Dave and I parted ways in Vancouver so that I could proceed to Winnipeg. I never realized how much I missed that shabby, friendly airport. My family, on the other hand, I had missed terribly, so it was wonderful to see them. Then we went home, and after a glass of much-needed wine, I proceeded to sleep the sleep of the dead.
That was my August 12, 2007.

Hard to believe that was a whole year ago, today. Whoa.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Daves' 30th Birthday... in VEGAS!

We interrupt this blog for an important announcement regarding Dave's 30th birthday -- the plane tickets are now booked!

Las Vegas, here we come!!!

The more the merrier, so all friends, family, and whoever are invited. So, if you read this blog, want to join us for a fun weekend in Vegas, (and actually know us, of course) send me a facebook/email/phonecall/etc to find out more details.

Naturally, everyone is responsible for their own arrangements. To help in your deal-hunting, try the following sites:

We used Sears Travel (it had the best deal at the time) but the best price often fluctuates between these sites. Happy hunting, and hope to see you there!

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Amusing Poster in Gimli

So we saw this poster on a telephone pole in Gimli, Manitoba, and it gave us a laugh. Enjoy!

Monday, July 28, 2008

Fringe-ing in Winnipeg!

Dave and I arrived in Winnipeg last Thursday, and have been living at its famed Fringe Festival ever since. For those of you unfamiliar with this event, the Fringe Festival is a celebration of independent theatre and street performers. Over 10-12 days, plays are performed in improvised venues that are clustered in near proximity to one another, and audiences choose the play they will attend and pay a small fee to be admitted. These festivals happen all over the country, moving from east to west.

Personally, I like The Fringe much better than regular theatre -- not only is it more experimental, interesting, and affordable, but the smaller venue sizes (and thus smaller audiences) makes the performances both intimate and unique. The audience, in a sense, is a whole other character within the play. Performers often interact with their audiences in some direct fashion, such as to stop to say "God bless you!" to someone sneezing, or to flirt, or to encourage a singalong. Dave was included in two shows, once as a dancing man-ho, and another time as the object of affection of a lovelorn German rock queen. (So you know, this can be avoided if you sit farther back than the first few rows... but that takes the fun out of it!) ;-)

As I mentioned before, the Fringe Festival will be hitting other cities. Saskatoon is next, I think, followed by Edmonton and Vancouver. If you live in a city expecting a Fringe this year, do consider going to see a play. I cannot emphasize strongly enough what a great time Fringing is. However, it can be a bit intimidating, to decide from all the available plays... so, to help you out, I will list a few shows that Dave and I enjoyed.
  • "Teaching the Fringe" by Keir Cutler: Based on a letter of scathing criticism Keir received for a former play. He breaks it down in a hysterically funny manner.
  • "Die Roten Punkte: Supermusicante": Musical comedy duo parody German rock stars. Fantastic show, catchy tunes, and I laughed until I hurt!
  • "Totem Figures" by TJ Dawe: Vancouver playwright and established Fringe deity, TJ does a 1.5-hour autobiography about his personal mythology, and its role in his life.
  • "The B-List": Trio of drag starlets performing a hysterically funny post-rehab musical.
  • "Singing at the Edge of the World": Gifted storyteller Randy Rutherford tells his autobiographical story of coping with congenital hearing loss while living the bohemian dream in Alaska. Touching, funny, and utterly spellbinding.
  • "The Further Adventures of Antoine Feval": Chris Gibbs spins an amusing yarn from the perspective of a clueless assistant to a detective.

Other neat shows include Hot Pink's Busty Rhymes, Jem Rolls: How I learned to stop worrying and love the mall, and Killing Kevin Spacey.

Anyhow, for those of you in or near Saskatoon, Edmonton, Vancouver, or Victoria, go and see some of these shows! Enjoy!

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Something Neat

Whenever Dave is away, I find myself watching a lot of movies. Specifically, I watch the kind of movies Dave doesn't care for much, such as arty flicks or horror movies.

Last nights' choice -- Fast Food Nation -- was a meandering dud with too many characters, no narrative or focus, pointless cameos, and a miasma of smug, self-righteous indignance at the mass-processing meat industry. The movie weilded shock value with all the finesse of installing a light switch with a sledgehammer. While wearing oven mitts.

As for the highlight of the movie, it's a toss-up between Avril Lavignes' cameo as a dippy protester, or the final scenes' brutally honest footage of a packing plant kill floor. Seriously, those are the highlights.

Being so dissatisfied with the movie, I am not certain why I investigated the DVDs' Special Features afterwards. But I'm glad I did. It introduced me to a fascinating web animation called "The Meatrix", in which Leo, a pig, is approached by the enigmatic, black-clad cow "Moopheus", who invites Leo to see past the fiction we perceive the meat industry to be.

While the Matrix parody in itself is amusing, it also hits home how little we really know -- or want to know -- about where most of our meat really comes from. If you want to check it out, then Enter The Meatrix and give it a look.

(Note that while it is an animation, The Meatrix is actually quite explicit, and shouldn't be watched by small children, imho.)

Friday, July 11, 2008

Summer So Far

Summer so far has been a lot of fun. Dave and I just got back from some weeks in Vancouver, where we saw his sister get married. It was a beautiful wedding with a truly inspired theme -- summer camp wedding! Katie and Charlie rented a YMCA summer camp outside of Vancouver, and had a weekend-long extravaganza of campfires, camp activities, and a gorgeous wedding right in the middle. There was even an icebreaker/talent show the first night, in which I handily made an ass of myself singing a blues song I co-wrote. Ah well, it's all for family, right? ;-) Other acts included a recitation of all prime numbers between 1-100, several other original song performances, Highland dancing, and a comedic clarinet/oboe duo. The show finale was two friends of Katies' singing "Business Time," inserting Katie and Charlies' names in various places in the song. It was positively hysterical.

During the weekend there was canoeing, archery, and even a high-ropes course (which my mum mastered! Go mum!!). A highlight for me was actually getting a chance to spend time with Dave's extended family, especially his cousins. The last time we all met, it was my own wedding, and so I was a tad preoccupied and barely got a chance to talk to anyone. It's great to finally get to know them a bit. Another highlight was dad's arrival -- he had been chairing meetings in Ottawa that morning, and flew Ottawa-Toronto, Toronto-Vancouver, Vancouver-seaplane to Seschelt, and despite this long journey, still partied hard until 2am Vancouver time! That's dedication, man.

Also, while in Vancouver, I decided to take the plunge and get laser eye surgery. It's a big change from before; I used to not be able to see anything outside of an arm's-length, but now I see… well, everything. The first time I really noticed the difference was on Canada Day, where I saw the tens of thousands of red-and-white-clad people packed throughout downtown, as far as the eye can see in every direction. It occurred to me I wasn't wearing contacts… and it was both weird and wonderful.

I'd worn glasses and contacts since age 9, so no longer needing these things is a huge adjustment for me. It's even been hard to get rid of my glasses. I went to a local glasses shop, asked if they took donations of old glasses. The clerk pointed to a box for the Lions Club. I looked at my purse, which contained my old glasses… then looked at the box… then smiled, thanked the clerk, and left with my glasses still in my purse. I just couldn't do it yet.

Other than that, Ottawa has been buzzing with activity lately. Canada Day was a blast; we started at a friends' BBQ, then moved on to the concert and fireworks. The main headliner was Blue Rodeo, but as luck would have it, the alternate headliner was Hawksley Workman, who I adore. Being not so crowded, we were able to get some good spots, and Hawksley entertained us with his whimsical stories and unexpected medleys (veering into Destinys' Child hits, for example).

More recently, this past week has been the Ottawa Bluesfest (note, not actually entirely dedicated to blues music). I've been going almost every night, and have seen gems such as The Tragically Hip, The Black Crowes, James Taylor, Les Breastfeeders, Matt Good, and many more. Here are the highlights thus far:

Best Show: Michael Franti and Spearhead with their super-positive political reggae. The crowd was jumping and singing along, and this was by far the most compelling draw of the night… despite this fairly obscure band playing at the exact same timeslot as THREE huge headliners.

Biggest Surprise: Snoop Dogg. Yes, I saw Snoop Dogg, and he was great. Not a lot of songs, but he must have written the textbook on crowd involvement. It was a fantastic time. Even the crowd itself was entertaining -- I was standing next to a youngish mum and her 11-year-old son, the latter of whom was mortified with the former, especially as she enthusiastically sang along with Snoops' vulgar lyrics. (Hee hee, people watching is fun!).

Weirdest Moment: Boz Scaggs. I approach the stage, and see this red-faced, jowl-y man in a collared white shirt and dark pants. His hair is silver in an almost-mullet, whiter on the top, and his moustache is grey. My first thought -- "What the hell is my dad doing there?!?!" The resemblance is truly uncanny, especially at a distance..

Biggest Disappointment: CBC darlings, Winnipeg rock band The Weakerthans. The show itself was great, except for (I think) a poor choice in songs. In their encore, they picked their most controversial song, and had the Ottawan crowd gleefully screaming along, "I HATE WINNIPEG!!" City choice aside, why end a show on a hating note like that?

Biggest Schadenfreude Moment: Fergie's show was late, and her vocals were nearly inaudible over the pre-recorded backing vocals. Even the peripheral stuff (the dancing, the outfits, the stage itself) were not great. Then she even ended early. So generally, the show was terrible, but at least it made me feel better about my own un-stellar talent show performance weeks earlier. ;-)

The Bluesfest will continue until the end of this weekend, and tonight Dave and I will be seeing Metric. This edgy Montreal rock band is known to put on a great show, and I already know a lot of their music, which I love. I can hardly wait!

(Also, note that all of these photos come courtesy of friends, facebook, or flickr... thanks, all!)

Sunday, April 20, 2008

The Weirdest Wedding Gift

Today, we were able to use our strangest wedding present for the first time.
Now, perhaps you may be looking at the photo thinking, "That's clearly a centrepiece. What's so strange about it?" You would be right; assembled, and in function, the purpose of the piece is clear.

However, when opening a box containing a bizarrely-configured bowl, a cylindrical thing with holes, and then a fish, I was puzzled. The givers didn't help -- my wacky godfather, Keith, and his ultra-fun wife, Colleen told me it was a flower pot… or that they could be lying, and they'd "lost the ladle". ;-)

So the mystery is dispelled, and this gorgeous (though still odd) piece is now in use. Lovely, isn't it? Thanks, Keith & Col!

Friday, April 18, 2008

Response Re: Censoring Canadian Filmmakers

So, in follow-up to a previous post, I did indeed receive a prompt response to my letter to my MP. While it is clearly a form letter, I am heartened that concern for this subject is wide enough to merit the creation of a form letter. :-) Hooray, democracy!

Here is the response, for those interested. Thanks, Mr. Dewar!

Dear Karla,

Thank you for sharing your concerns with me about Bill C-10 (An Act to amend the Income Tax Act, including amendments in relation to foreign investment entities and non-resident trusts). Be assured my NDP colleagues I agree with you that the bill creates serious issues for the freedom of Canadian artistic expression and should be opposed.

My colleagues and I are very concerned about reports that a section of Bill C-10 may be used by the government to censor film and video production in Canada that it finds offensive. This section would enable the Minister of Canadian Heritage to establish guidelines for the issuance of a Canadian film or video production certificate. These certificates make the producers of the film eligible for important tax credits.

The provision was buried in Bill C-10 which is legislation primarily aimed at closing tax loopholes and limiting tax havens. Bill C-10 was approved by all parties in the House of Commons in October and is currently before a committee of the Senate.

New Democrats and I believe that it is not the role of the Minister of Canadian Heritage or the government to make subjective judgments about what is appropriate film or video content. In a country as diverse as Canada, we must rigorously protect artistic freedom. Enshrining guidelines that seek to define what is “offensive”, "odious” or “objectionable” are inappropriate. Controversy is often crucial to the creative process. Conservatives may yet again be trying to address a problem that just does not exist, or that is already appropriately addressed by established program parameters and criminal law.

I also do not support statements such as those made at the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage by Conservative members this past January. One Conservative MP suggested that Telefilm Canada should be making “films for mainstream society”. Another Conservative suggested that a Telefilm-supported film that “focused more on recreational sexual activity than loving relationships…was not redeeming.” Such personal and subjective reflections should never become part of public policy. However, this appears to be where the provision in Bill C-10 lead.

My NDP colleagues and I are concerned that such guidelines may have a chilling effect on film and television production in Canada and may significantly hinder the telling of Canadian stories and Canadian artistic expression. At its meeting of February 28th, the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage decided to pursue this issue. It has requested that the “updated eligibility requirements” and the “standardized and updated list of illegal and other ineligible content” developed by Heritage Canada be tabled by the Government. The Parliamentary Secretary for Canadian Heritage has agreed to provide this information to the Standing Committee.

Thank you again for sharing your concerns with me about this important issue. I trust this information will help alleviate some of your concerns regarding Bill C-10.
As I said above, be assured my NDP colleagues and I will continue to fight for the free artistic expression of our Canadian artists and will continue to oppose unfair and unnecessary censorship. I look forward to hearing from you again soon.


Paul Dewar, MP Ottawa Centre

Wednesday, April 02, 2008


Today was a very good day.

It began this morning, where I happened upon some free tickets to a performance of a band I really like. Stars is a great Canadian band; Dave bought a CD of theirs some weeks ago, and it has not left our player since. I'm listening to them now, in fact. Anyhow, a colleague of mine was unable to make it to their concert tomorrow, so she offered up her tickets to whoever could use them. Luckily I was able to snag them!

So now, aside from being very excited for the concert tomorrow, I get to contemplate something sweet to do for my lovely friend. Perhaps something involving booze, flowers, or chocolate, or even some combination thereof. Hmm...

After that, I returned my attention to work. The good luck kept on happening -- I finally was able to make progress into some work that had been very hard to grasp. Then, a scary statistical problem came up that, when I solved it, turned out to be all bark and no bite. Phew!

Today was also the day of my skip-level meeting. Basically, that means an annual sit-down with your boss to discuss your career aspirations, etc. I had been a bit nervous about it, since a meeting like this requires me to be articulate... which, lately, has not been too reliable. I often stop midsentence and totally forget the word I need. And it's sometime been words like "spoon". (Karla: "I need... thing... to dig... food.") Or I say "oven" when I mean "fridge". Bad news, man. The last thing I need is to accidentally say "boogers" when I mean "median".

So with all this in mind, I sat down with my chief. Luckily, she's a cool, fun lady, and so our rapport put me at ease quite quickly. In sum, the meeting was a glowing success! Despite the difficulty of not really knowing my way around my survey yet, apparently I'm getting good reviews. Plus, the meeting generated some information that has helped me make a very important career decision. And lastly, we talked over a few issues I've encountered since coming back; her insight and experience brought what had been bothering me into sharp focus. What a valuable talk! I feel I've gained a lot of clarity because of it.

(And I think I went the whole meeting NOT saying "boogers" when I meant "median". Bonus!) ;-)

And, to top it all off, I came home to my beloved Dave cooking me steak for dinner.

Life is good.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

No Longer on the Fence

Until this point, I had reserved judgement on the Harper government.

Sure, I frowned when he kicked to the curb marginalized Canadians in need of legal aid. Sure, I was unimpressed with Conservative rhetoric replacing leadership in the environment. And you can bet I'm a tad wary about this young buck, an external appointee (who may yet be a Conservative-agenda-enforcing Harper-henchman) who is to run the rabidly non-partisan Statistics Canada.

But for me, all those instances evoked was an eye-roll; while these actions are certainly not good, in my eye, I've not yet been provoked into a visceral reaction of utmost disgust.

Until today.

Courtesy of The Globe & Mail:
"Canadian Heritage officials confirmed yesterday they will be 'expanding slightly' the criteria used for denying tax credits to include grounds such as gratuitous violence, significant sexual content that lacks an educational purpose, or denigration of an identifiable group. More details are promised next week."

What infuriating nonsense. Harper is extending the scope of his muzzling to now include Canadian filmmakers evermore, should they continue with their gritty, fantastic filmmaking. Canadian film is world-renowned for the very aspects that Conservatives are trying to snuff; We do not shy away from realism, from brutal honesty, from challenging subject matter. It is a proud piece of our national identity.

In sum, Canadian film is about to be castrated in favour of Conservative milquetoast.

Mess with my people, my environment, my livelihood, fine. But don't you dare touch my films.

So, I took the liberty of writing my MP. Should any of you even remotely agree, I urge you to do the same. Below is my letter:

To the Honourable Mr. Dewar,

I am an Ottawa Centre constituent who is utterly alarmed by the Government's move to deny tax credits to Canadian filmmakers. Canadian film is praised worldwide as being gritty and honest, and providing no-holds-barred views of complex and difficult subject matter. This is an identity to be proud of, and it is one that is put at great risk by the Conservatives' agenda.

The world would be a lesser place without films like Exotica, The Saddest Music in the World, The Sweet Hereafter, and Naked Lunch. These fantastic films would be at risk under the Conservative proposal, as they are low-budget, and contain considerable degrees of nudity, sexuality, violence, and other disturbing imagery. Given that many low-budget films simply cannot be made without federal tax credit assistance, films such as these would be terminated "in utero," as it were.

This bill promotes censorship of a true Canadian art form; It is misguided at best, fascist at worst. Please do not let this pass.

Lastly, could you please advise me on other groups or activites related to this issue that you know of? I would like to lend my support to them.

Thank you for your time.

No response as of yet, but that's no surprise as I sent it not an hour ago. ;-) Will keep you posted if I hear anything back. In the meantime, feel free to peruse the following links for more information.

Article 1 - Article 2 - Article 3 - Article 4 - Article 5

Don't be fooled by the myopic "rebuttals" stating that only films against current public policy (i.e. containing illegal activities) will be affected by this bill. Technically, this could mean termination of funding for a film in which someone breaks copyright laws, or even jaywalks.

And how many classic movies involve murder, exactly? Think about it, and reflect on what these ominously vague regulations may do to our Egoyans, our Maddins, and our Canadian Hitchcocks to come.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008


Last weekend I ran my first ever 5k.

The closest thing I had ever done previously were the duathlons, which had 5k of running broken into two parts by a 10k bike ride. So, Saturday's event was the first time I had ever attempted running 5 consecutive kilometres. Granted, "running" is probably a generous stretch of terminology -- slow jogging would be a far more apt description. Nonetheless, I finished in less than 40 minutes (a good target for beginners) and only had to walk for about three quarters of a K. At about 3.5K, I started seeing spots, so I had to slow down… until I saw the "1 K left!" sign. I ran from there, but allowed myself 200 paces of walking when the spots and dizziness returned. My finish was strong, though, and even left me with ample energy to do errands in the afternoon.

The rest of the afternoon was great. I dropped off my coat for a dry-cleaning, tried out a fantastic new teahouse, picked up some art supplies for my newest project, then topped it all off with ordering a pizza and watching horror movies. I don't generally like horror movies, but since Dave openly detests them, my ideal opportunity to watch them is when he's out of town. Unfortunately, both were duds -- 28 Weeks Later was a perfect example of everything that's wrong with Hollywood-ized movies, and Perfume: The Story of a Murderer destroyed its riveting first half with a positively awful second half. The evening was subsequently redeemed with a friends' housewarming party, which ended around 2AM with my friends and I pushing each other into snowbanks. Good times!

All told, I enjoyed the run so much that I'm already looking into upcoming 5k events. It seems there is about one per month from now until October. Frankly, I'm happy as long as it involves less snow; running in the snow seems entirely too hardcore for my taste. Thank goodness this race had closed down the (cleared) road, as running on snowed-in bike trails would have been a nightmare.

And maybe, next time, Dave can join me! ;-) (No pressure, hon…hehehe)

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Is it just me...

...or is there an almost uncanny resemblance between these two pictures?

Ah, my cousin is way cuter than any heiress. Just stay away from that eyeliner, RaeLynn! ;-)

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Settled In / Lents' Revenge

In the time since Christmas, life has evened out nicely. The general lack of excitement has been blissful, and Dave and I have managed to work out something resembling a routine. The bookkeeping is almost done, we now know where (almost) everything is, and I'm regularly engaging in my soul-restorative activity, baking.

The baking has been especially handy lately, as I have given up refined sugars for Lent. As some of you may recall, that was what Dave gave up last year; in turn, he is giving up alcohol (which was my choice last year). I expect this Lent to be quite difficult, as David likes booze more than I do, and I like sweets more than he does. But hey, this whole thing is supposed to be an exercise in discipline/self-knowledge, right? In the meantime, we're learning the virtues of molasses and nonalcoholic beer.

Socializing is made tougher by Lent, though, since it's hard not to fall into old habits. Dave's had trouble resisting ordering the "automatic beer," and I've already had a major sugar slip-up. Today a colleague brought in home-baked cookies and I automatically ate two before remembering. :-P It's amazing how sneaky sugar (and booze) can be... it's everywhere!

We even made a point of postponing Lent a bit, so as to avoid being miserable company to our parents. Dave's parents were visiting a few weekends ago, and as usual, their partying skills put ours to shame. Not to be outdone, my dad then shows up, and all of us (foolishly) start trying to out-party each other. On a "school night", no less. Needless to say, the next morning at work was positively brutal. But worth it. ;-)

Besides Easter (the official end of Lent), there are many events I'm looking forward to. I was able to nab floor tickets to the Foo Fighters!! It'll be a great show, and we only have to wait 'til March. That same month, I've also enrolled into a 5K run. And, I've booked us orchestra seats for the travelling Broadway musical, Wicked, which tours in August.

I gotta say, it's so nice to make plans so far in advance. ^_^

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Happy New Year!

For Dave and I, 2008 is starting out as a much-anticipated period of relaxation. 2007 was a fantastic year full of adventure, special events, and an incredible amount of travel… it's years like that that make us realize how blessed we are. Thank you to absolutely every person who was a part of that miraculous time.

Since we haven't been updating the blog regularly, here is a point-form update of the latest events:

  • After returning to Canada (Ottawa) from the honeymoon, we saw the lovely Beatrice (the tall, redhead bridesmaid) get married! The ceremony was beautiful, and included a song written by the bride herself. The reception afterwards was a lot of fun, and it was the first time I'd seen many of my StatCan buddies in almost two years. Needless to say, we partied to make up for lost time. ;-)

  • We then flew from Ottawa to Winnipeg, where my belongings were being stored during our time in NZ. In addition to taking that stuff back to Ottawa, my family also volunteered some of their furniture to help set us up. We ended up with a great dining set, a huge TV, and two nice couches. Thanks mom, dad, Aunt Jo and Uncle Rae! :-)

  • A surprise Wedding Social was thrown during our stay in Winnipeg. Dave had no idea it was happening, and we both had no idea his parents were secretly flying in for the event. The Hume family got a complete immersion in Prairie culture. By the end of the evening, Dave was reading out the draw numbers like a pro. ;-) And a big thanks to everyone who came, and those who supported us by buying tickets! The funds were deeply appreciated, and helped us pay for the move.

  • We drove a packed U-Haul to Ottawa. The weather was drizzly all the way, and the drive itself uneventful but for moose and eagle sightings. I always find the sight of Lake Superior staggering, though -- how is that not an ocean? The highlight of the trip was stopping at Keith and Colleen's house and getting a chance to catch up with them.

  • I began work shortly thereafter, where I was welcomed back with a loving prank. My friends had secured a copy of a newspaper article run about me, then made an enormous number of copies and plastered them all over my cubicle. However, something was different -- where my face was supposed to be, they had pasted their own faces onto mine. But with my hair and neck. I nearly fell over laughing.

  • Work itself is good. After taking the two weeks to shop around among available positions, I decided on Balance of Payments and Environmental Surveys section. I had assumed I'd join the team immediately, but my old section (Unified Enterprise Survey) needed a hand with some data quality indicators. Now that that's finished, the move will be as of Monday coming. The project looks interesting, and the team seems very nice… I can hardly wait! :-)

  • Katie (sister of Dave; tall, brunette bridesmaid) and Charlie are getting married! On Halloween, Katie was proposed to by a roses-and-diamond-weilding Zorro, and she accepted. (Personally, I wondered how Charlie felt about having Zorro move in on his girl!) ;-) The wedding is schedueled for June, and may or may not feature another Zorro appearance.

  • Patrick (one of the groomsmen) and his wife Sarah had their baby -- a beautiful little boy named Benjamin. He was born late November, and he was a wee thing at about 5 lbs. I'm told he's growing like a weed nowadays… as kids do.

  • Liz (of gardening-blog fame) and her husband Don are expecting! I am so happy for them, though I wonder how they'll stop little Billy/Hermione/Trogdor from playing with their action figures... ;-)

  • Went to Vancouver for Christmas, and surprised Chris (Dave's mum) on her doorstep. She was absolutely speechless, but then even more so when her English sister and brother-in-law surprised her the next day. We celebrated Chris's 60th 29th on Christmas day, which was simply splendid. (The general adventures of Christmastime in Vancouver is sufficient for its own post, though, so eyes on this space!) ^_^

  • All in all last year, Dave and I boarded 24 planes, 7 ferries, 8 trains, and explored 5 countries. What a year!!

But all the same, an action-packed year like that leaves one with a renewed appreciation for ugly sweatpants, lazy Saturdays, and empty schedueles. ;-)

As of now, though, we're not quite there -- there's still a lot of apartment-setting-up to do. We do not yet have any rhyme or reason to our cupboards and shelves, and we are still learning where everything is. Also, now that I've finally unearthed all the paperwork I'd packed away, I can finally catch up on the last of the wedding tasks. Following that will be tackling the scary drawer bursting with receipts that date back to July. Then, freedom! Freedom to slouch about, do as little as possible, and rot our minds with television. How blissful.

In the meantime, I have my "To Do" lists to keep me company. And, of course, my sweatpants. ;-)