Saturday, November 30, 2013

"Fortuna Major!"

Listening to my children read aloud the Harry Potter books is killing my love for that series. It's obvious that Harry Potter's appeal lies in the books' characters, plots and themes. It does not lie in Ms Rowling's talent as a writer. 

I muttered. 

I muttered crossly.

I muttered crossly while wondering if she got paid by the adverb and if people in England are extremely fond of muttering.

Below I've underlined a prime example of a sentence that tripped up my 9 year old emergent reader:

"Harry, Ron and Hermione joined the Gryffindors streaming up 
the marble staircase and, very tired now, along more corridors, up 
more and more stairs, to the hidden entrance to Gryffindor Tower."
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, p 74

Where was her editor? Did no one at Bloomsbury have the balls to say, "Fuck off with that 'very tired now' aside and stay on point. Don't use 'more' three times in a single sentence." 

Pass the butter beer. It's going to be a long couple of months. 

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Sexy is in the eye of the beholder/luster.

I'm tempted to apologize to Bradley Cooper for the skewering I gave him two years ago when he was named People's Sexiest Man Alive in 2011. I still think he's a gregarious, horny, golden retriever. However, subsequent Sexiest Man Alive editions have been particularly disappointing. In light of this, Bradley doesn't seem so bad.

This year's winner is Adam Levine. The news leaked a few weeks ago and I wasn't too, too upset. Don't get me wrong: Levine is gross, but I had high hopes that the rest of the list would make up for him. My theory is that the "official" winner is the candidate whose publicist agrees to People Magazine's request for a personal interview and photoshoot, and agrees not to slag off the 'competition' when the winner is announced. The real sexy men fill out the top 12 list. 

My theory has been blown to bits by the inclusion of several questionable men on the newly published list. All the same I did my best to objectify them and suggest what kind of  Love Sandwich (in the manner of Oprah for Steadman) they each deserve:

1. Adam Levine
I'm not sullying my blog with pictures of this fool.

Love Sandwich: 8 kinds of ham slathered in 12 types of cheese, between two dried out white flour tortillas.

2. Idris Elba
I would kick him out for eating a Love Sandwich in bed, just so I could watch him crawl back in. 

Love Sandwich: Sausage, and -- nothing. JUST SAUSAGE!

3. Luke Bryan
I had never heard of this man, and so decided to listen to one of his songs: That's My Kind of Night. Ninety seconds into that video he'd already mentioned beer, his truck, and beautiful women. MR BRYAN, WHY NO MENTION OF HOW MUCH YOU LOVE YOUR COUNTRY? IF YOU ARE GOING TO BE A STEREOTYPICAL, MANUFACTURED COUNTRY SINGER YOU NEED TO HIT ALL THE POINTS IN THE TOBY KEITH PLAYBOOK!

I'm sorry about going all capitals on you, interwebs readers, but I have very strong feelings about certain topics.

And while I was typing that last line, the song (which is still playing) referenced farming and fishing. I'm going to listen to some Johnny Cash and try to scrub that nonsense from my brain.

Love Sandwich: hot dog bun with catfish, Kraft processed cheese and American mustard. Thirty seconds in the microwave to make it flaccid and nauseating.

4. Jimmy Fallon
Well played, People Magazine. Jimmy is smart and nice. He's happily married and dotes on his new daughter. So sexy!

Love Sandwich: a lobster roll for this Boston boy. Said as "lobstah," of course. 

5. Bruno Mars
He is adorable! Doesn't he seem like someone who worked hard to achieve success and is not cynical or pessimisstic? That's very sexy. However I'm the kind of woman who wants her Sexiest Man Alive to also look good in a wool sweater, while drinking scotch and building a fire. Bruno doesn't check any of these boxes.

Love Sandwich: Bruno is from Hawaii, so instead of making him a Love Sandwich I'm just going to take him to the 808 Deli in Kihei, Maui. We'll order something off the menu and have a couple of beers. 808 Deli -- best sandwiches on the planet, people. 

6. Jonathan and Drew Scott
They're Canadian! I am giving them points for that! They're handsome! I'm trying not to dwell on how weird it is for grown men to be defined as one half of a sibling set.

Love Sandwich: poutine in a cruller with Montreal smoked beef. On the side: a double-double.

7. Justin Timberlake
What the fuck?! Is it 2006? No. It is not. It's seven years AFTER Justin hit peak sexiness, and hence his presence on this list smacks of My Publicists Are Desperate To Keep Me In The Limelight syndrome.

Love Sandwich: day old bacon on stale bread.

8. Chris Pine
I love him. What kind of Trekkie would I be otherwise?

Love Sandwich: I will take two slices of artisanal bread, layer on gouda, brie, havarti (my favourite), thin slices of tomato, avocado, a course European mustard and drizzle it with a balsamic vinaigrette reduction. I will press it long and hard on low heat in a panini press and enjoy leisurely.

9. Pharrell Williams
In the write up on the People list there is a quote from an Interview Magazine piece about Pharrell. He refers to himself in the third person. Ugh. 

For the record Nan the person likes Pharrell because her children make her listen to the Despicable Me soundtracks  (which features his music) all the time and they're not half bad.

Love Sandwich: a bánh mì. There's no ulterior meaning to this selection. These just look really tasty. 

10. Ronan Farrow
Lots of twitter-using ladies love him. Not me. I suspect he has mommy issues AND daddy issues. Tread carefully ladies/men.

Love Sandwich: ice cream sandwich. To be enjoyed at top speed before it melts into a sticky puddle in your hand and messes up your upholstery.

11. Justin Theroux
In a list thick with badly/oddly tattooed men, Theroux and his prison tatts top the list. But only this respect. 

Love Sandwich: Gyro. Let's face it -- he's probably not getting a lot (of anything) over at chez Aniston.

12. David Beckham
Intellectually I know he's a handsome man, but he does nothing for me. Mostly because of his rumoured philandering, and his well-known idiocy. I do love  it when he's photographed with his daughter -- he's so attentive and sweet with her and that makes me like him. 

Love Sandwich: a fluffernutter. A substantially-sized fluffernutter.

• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • 

Who do you think is the Sexiest Man, Dead or Alive? 

Monday, November 18, 2013


 I thought I was so funny when I wrote that tweet. I was charmed that two people had retweeted it. Then I noticed that one of those avatars looked awfully familiar. 


This was, I think, way worse than that time I tweeted about finding Jean-Claude Van Damme's handlebar moustache was very sexy. Only to have it favourited by his production company.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

It's 'heaven' spelled backward.

This is the universe's way of paying me back for mocking people who give their children creatively spelled names:

Nancy is NOT that hard to spell!

Alternately, this is another reason why my children don't attend public school in this town.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

No One Likes Swans.

There's an article at the Daily Mail about the [unfortunately named] Meek family and their year long challenge to do 100 outdoor adventures in lieu of tv viewing. Most of the ideas were pretty good, but there were a few I wanted to expound upon:

1. Slacklining (walking on a rope between two trees)
We own a slackline kit. It's basically webbing like you see on backpacks strung between posts or trees. It's surprisingly fun.
2. Scooter Safari
Scooters are fun. They're like a hybrid between a skateboard and a Zimmer frame but still really dangerous. 
3. Caving
Code for: spelunking. Sounds awful.
4. Spend the night in a hammock
Anyone else get motion sick in hammocks, or am I particularly delicate?
5. Canoe down a river
I do this! I am (as you are about to discover) rather outdoorsy. I even own a puffy vest, the universal sign of an adventuring, outdoorsy type. More often I wear it while watching tv.
6. Adventure led by the girls
An adventure led by my girls always leads to Cumberbatch. Wait? What? Were we talking about something?

7. Sleep in a wood
8. Watch rutting deer
"Maybe I don't know the real definition of 'rutting.'" I thought when I first saw this item. Turns out I do know the definition. Furthermore it turns out that some people think animal sex is the stuff of great childhood memories.
9. Learn survival skills
The local militia would be all too happy to teach my children skills for surviving  in a post apocalyptic society. But I'll pass.
10. Sleep on a beach
"This sounds like a great idea!" said someone who doesn't know about sand fleas.
11. Forage for a meal
Hunting mushrooms? Robbing birds' nests? Berry picking? Dumpster diving?  I'm not sure I want to do this one.
12. Support a cause (Comic Relief)
I support Comic Relief by watching these clips several times a year:

13. Snorkelling
14. Go for a reptile ramble
No. NO! NO!!! I consider not seeing reptiles the hallmark of a great hike.
15. Find a private beach
16. Climb the Eiffel Tower
17. Kayak Safari
First there was a safari on the scooters, not there's one with kayaks?
18. Camp in a city
18.5 make friends with the indigent and the streetwalkers
18.6 get tested for tuberculosis
18.7 decide to stay in school and get advanced degrees in finance 
19. Swim in a natural pool
BUT DO NOT SWIM AU NATURAL IN A POOL! You will be arrested. Don't ask me how I know this.
20. Sleep in a cahutte
"What, pray tell, is a cahutte?" was my reaction. From perusing this site, I gather cahuttes are cabins with canvas for roofs. 
21. Coasteering
Another one I had to google. Wikipedia says it is "a physical activity that encompasses movement along the intertidal zone of a rocky coastline on foot or by swimming, without the aid of boats, surf boards or other craft."
Translation: bobbing along in the water.
22. Orienteering race
23. Outdoor birthday party
24. Walk on high ropes
25. Make a rope swing
26. Sleep in a Bivvy-Bag
[we'll return to this topic when we hit #43]
27. See a henge from sunset to sunrise
The nearest henge to me is the Keppel Henge in Wiarton, Ontario. Road trip, anyone?
28. Sleep in a family-size sleeping bag
I have pre-teen boys, so NO!
29. Kayaking
Which is different from the Kayak Safari listed in point 17 because it's -- erm...well, I don't know actually.
30. Community work
31. Climb and abseil
Abseil is British for "rappelling." This sounds like fun! Provided that the course is installed and inspected by professionals and the operators are well insured. HEY! I enjoy outdoorsy fun, but there's no reason not to be safety conscious.
32. Sailing
33. Walk a peninsula
34. See a puffin
35. Watch wild seals
Watch wild seals?! I'm there! Can I bring my friends, Mr Hakapik and Mr Bourdain?
36. Play conkers
I bruise easily. No.
37. Go off-road hiking
I think this is a contradiction. You can not hike on a road. That's just regular old walking. 
38. Sleep in a shelter
My house is a shelter! 
39. Climb an epic summit
40. Camper-vanning
I am beginning to suspect that the Meeks also set themselves the goal of making nouns into verbs. Random verbising/verbizing makes me pissy.
41. Cook and eat in the wild
42. Wake and run
This sounds like a stage direction from the Hunger Games' script.
43. Bivvy by a river
Translation: sleep in a bivvy bag (a one person tent not much larger than a sleeping bag) next to running water and spend the whole night trying not to think about how badly you need to pee.
44. Tag team cycle trail
45. Learn a constellation
Pfft. Big Dipper -- easy peasy.
46. Whittle (carve) while you walk
Or whittle while stationary and avoid going on an "adventure" to the ER after you slice your finger to the bone.
47. Sub-zero camping
"There won't be any  bugs!" my husband says every winter when he tries to con me into going camping in the snow. 
48. Snow walking
In Canada we call this "walking." Or "going on a snow safari." No. Not really. Unlike the Meeks Canadians don't affix "safari" to activities to make them sound cooler.
49. Floodlit swan feed
When I was seven I tried to feed the swans in Stanley Park and one of them chased me. I hate swans.  
50. Discover local history
My extensive viewing of Time Team leads me to believe that in England all you need to do is turn over a rock and you find a Roman coin or a Viking longboat. Lucky bastards.
51. Find a summit
52. Go without electricity for 24 hours
I wish I lived in a place where prolonged power outages were less common, because then I might be  enthused with this idea.
53. Weaseling (climbing between gaps in rocks)
Translation: practice hiding from marauders when they invade your village. 
54. Night-time descent
55. Eat nettle soup
My mouth is tingly just thinking about it. And not in a good/Cumberbatch way.
56. Enter a race
57. Explore rock pools
58. Cook on a beach
59. Dam a stream
This one pisses me off. How it is an adventure to fuck with a river's run? Why destroy fish habit and a stream bed? Doesn't that encourage erosion of the banks? 
60. Explore a cave
How is this different from "Caving" which was item 3 on this list? It's almost like the Meeks are exaggerating the difficulty or originality of their adventures? Huh. 
61. Explore a wreck
Show of hands: who is now humming the Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald?
62. Find a waterfall
I rolled my eyes at this one, then I reminded myself that not everyone lives in the Rocky Mountains. I'll own my geographic bias.
63. Take on the elements
64. Body-boarding
65. Wild river swim
66. Mountain biking
67. Going to the toilet outside
The Meeks are totally dialing it in with this one.
68. Go behind a waterfall
Sometimes in the shower I stand behind the spray and pretend I'm doing this.  The real thing would be even cooler.
69. Coastal walk
70. Music festival
Dirty hippies, loud music, and mud. I'm too old. 
71. Visit a landmark
72. Walk to a tidal island
This list is making me feel badly about living my life hundreds of kilometers away from the seashore.
73. Sleep in an eco-tent
This one intrigued me, so I googled and found out that "eco tent" translates to  "cabin that operates like a youth hostel."
74. Spot red squirrels
75. Climb a ‘matterhorn’
**cough** same as #51 **cough**  And #39 **cough**  Cheaters **cough** 
76. Walk down a river
Where I come from this is called "wading." It usually involves slipping.
77. Geocaching (GPRS treasure hunting)
78. Clean a beach
One time in Cuba I found a used tampon on the beach. I'll pass on this one. 
79. Scramble
This is fun. Because it ends with a long slide down a scree on your butt. It's actually very satisfying.
80. Walk around a city
81. Orienteering
82. Night-time wood walk
83. Snow hiking
Is this really any different from adventure 43 "snow walking?"
84. Cook with snow
85. Visit a suspension bridge
86. Three peaks in three day
This sounded impressive  until I remembered the Meeks live in England where speed bumps are considered peaks.
87. Climb a winter summit
88. Ghyll scrambling (walking through gorges)
I googled this one, too. It appears to be sliding over waterfalls while wearing a helmet. Do the English not have waterparks?

89. Make meal for mum on Mother’s Day
Go one better: clean up after yourself on Mother's Day. That's my idea of a treat.
90. Play in snowdrifts
91. Backpacking
92. Tracking and mapping
93. Visit London
94. Build a bridge
95. Crabbing
96. Night walk in a forest
97. Off-peak camping
98. Skiing
99. Climb indoors
100. Tentsile (hammock-like tent)
With this adventure the Meeks have cured their children of claustrophobia! I hope.  

• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • 

Are you inspired to get out more or are you more in love with your television set than ever before?

• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • 

Update: Shit. My husband wants to buy a tentsile. Grrrrrr.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Quoth the Raven.

Starting in mid October, people Halloween-ed their Twitter user names and profile photos. On a whim I chose the spooky alias: Edgar Allan Nan. It seemed obscure, so I changed out my usual avatar:

For this:

Initially, I didn't much about think it, beyond envying other twitter users whose names were much, much funnier.

That was until Anthony Bourdian weighed in on a Humane Society of the United States program called "Chefs for Seals." It is a pledge by famous chefs and two grocery chains (Whole Foods and Trader Joe's) to boycott Canadian seafood to protest the (completely lawful, totally humane, well-regulated) commercial seal hunt that occurs in the North Atlantic in the spring. That an entire  (completely lawful, totally humane, well-regulated) industry would be punished because a minority of participants also find seasonal employment with another (completely lawful, totally humane, well-regulated) industry beggars belief. I assume the chefs' goal is to put economic pressure on the Canadian fishing industry so the fisherman would turn on their countrymen and do the dirty work of lobbying the government to outlaw the seal hunt. However, Canadians are pretty sensitive to foreign pressure and meddling when it comes to the management of our natural resources. Instead the chefs were decried for their callowness and simplistic grasp of the issue.

The shortcomings of this neo-colonialist, smear campaign, spear-headed by a fashion-photographer who doubles as an animal rights activist (Nigel Barker) were quickly apparent. Most of the chefs stayed silent. A few attempted to weigh in on the debate. Cathal Armstrong -- who erroneously believes "baby seals" are hunted --  is sorry that the ban will hurt people, but says "I have to do what I believe is correct for me. For me, personally." He doesn't even appear to be chagrined about his self-absorption. Five pro-boycott tweets were authored by everyone's favourite foie gras hustler, Mario Batali. Then Food and Wine magazine distanced themselves from the organization. Several chefs dropped out (so far: Sean Brock, Daniel Patterson, Craig Deihl) and Curtis Stone back-pedalled.  Chef Michael Smith stood up against the boycott.

Just as things were getting heated, the Chefs for Seals' twitter account went silent.

As is my purview, I sent one or two (or 100) tweets about the issue. I pointed out lies spouted by the person manning the Chefs for Seals' twitter account. I challenged assumptions by seal hunt opponents. I linked to relevant news articles and government documents. I thanked chefs who stepped away from the campaign. I used the hashtag #supportcanadianseafood.

It took a few days before I realized that the tone and substance of my interactions with anti-seal hunt activists was very different from previous years. No one asked how I would feel if my babies were hunted for their pelts. [Clarification: my children are furless.] No one accused me of being unfeeling. [Clarification: I don't think this is an insult.] When I responded with requests for data or facts, I was not called names. Very few people (actually only one person -- a "comedian" from Los Angeles) sent me death porn photos of seals on the ice floes. More often, when I pointed out fallacies of arguments or stuck to the parameters of the current discussion, the anti-seal hunt contingent disengaged.

I suspect the difference between this round of the debate, versus previous years is all down to Edgar. A perusal of tweets opposing the seal hunt reveal that most proponents are:
                              - female,
                              - white,
                              - middle class, and
                              - urban.

My new avatar set me apart from them and they stayed away. It was not my intention to obfuscate my identity in order to explore the gender bias of the anti-seal hunt debate. It makes me feel slightly slimey (in the manner of Mario Batali after a foie gras binge), but more so I am amused.

Now Halloween is done. But I don't want to give up Edgar. He's been so illuminating. Maybe I'll keep him for a few more days. I'm sure Lenore would understand.