Thursday, July 29, 2010

Um yeah.. so, McDonalds??

What is going on with your Playland? You've gotten a lot of slack over the years for your contribution to childhood obesity and I applaud your attempt to do damage-control with your 'healthier' options such as your preservative-soaked apple-slices that never seem to go brown and your increasingly tiny hamburgers that you include in your happy meals (portion control, people!)

However, upon entering the McDonalds in Parry Sound this past weekend with my friend and our four small children, I was disturbed to find in the place where there would normally (I would hope) be one of those delightfully large climbers that are so great for allowing small children to burn off steam, energy and calories while allowing parents 20 minutes to oh, say, four hours of peace to eat some fries and read the paper... where was I? Yeah.. the Playland... I was shocked and dismayed to find that this Playland contained nothing more than a few video game consoles and an out-of-order air hockey table.

Imagine the children's confusion!

"What the hell, mom? How do we climb on this?"

I had to love the added irony of how the walls were adorned with various pictures of children being active and having fun, while in reality the only available options were to stand and stare mindlessly at a videogame. I guess standing can be considered activity.

The children revolt! (note happy children being active in background)

I've noticed the slow encroachment of these video consoles into newer establishments, and I sincerely hope that this isn't a harbinger of things to come. If so, I'd have to accuse you of either

A) pandering to the kiddies because "them video games are all the rage and if we put THEM in the restaurants they'll be sure to bug their parents into coming here 8 days a week!"

B) pandering to litigious, hand-wringing, 'Pleasethinkofthechildren!' types who, having read one too many email forwards about ball-pits full of urine and feces and toddlers getting stuck with broken syringes (because you know, if I were to shoot smack, my logical destination would be the ballpit at my local mickey D's), will insist that these climbers pose a very real, very evil threat to their precious little bundles of joy who at 4 and 5 years old are still riding in strollers because God forbid one of them falls and skins their knees while doing something as dangerous as walking or *gasp* running! (p.s. and you wonder why your kids are fat??)

****whoo. deep breath, Andie. ********

So please, if this is the direction you are going, McDonalds, I ask that you think twice about this, lest you truly become the evil corporate empire that many claim you to be - assuming that option A) is behind your reasoning.

If it's option B), this is better remedied by cleaning out your ball pit, and don't hire junkies. mmmkay? Thanks.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Ways my right hand is buggered up

I'm taking a cue from Listwork

  1. Gross peely blister on thumb from lawn-mowing
  2. Bruised knuckles from hitting a post during last-night's kick-boxing class
  3. Something stuck under my thumbnail that has changed color and is starting to hurt
  4. Bruised palm from catching a ball in the wrong hand at baseball tonight.

Sometimes a song says it all...

Although I'm looking forward to camping this weekend, I'm feeling a little blah today. I guess it's weirdness about the coming long weekend and the events therein. Let's face it, no matter how 'okay' you may be with life circumstances, having a the most recent ex-boyfriend move away the same weekend as the a not-so-recent ex-husband gets married is a little bit of emotional tag-teaming, right there. In total honesty it's the former rather than the latter that is on my mind more. The second bit is just well.. weird. It's been a long time coming, and I guess my fear is possibly discovering I'm not as okay with it as I thought.

Hrm. Anyway. I've had this song running through my head today and it's oddly fitting. It's a duet but I'm thinking of adapting it to a solo for the museum show, even though it'd be wicked cool to have someone learn it and sing it with me.

The pink is the female part and the blue is the male part. Red, they sing together. click on the Title if you wanna hear it. It's a good tune.

Duet for Emmylou and the Grievous Angel:
by Rah Rah

I don’t miss you now but I will when you’re gone
And this is the reason I keep holding on
Because you are lovely and because you are old
And these are the most desirable traits to be found in a woman I am told

It is fashionable
To be single
In big cities
But not in small towns
In Regina
I fell in love
With her frown

I won’t miss you now but I will once we’re done
Sometimes I strain myself trying to recall the last time we had fun
‘Cause you’re soft as smoke and you got no fear
And these are the most desirable traits to be found in a man I hear

It is fashionable
To be single
In big cities
But not in small towns
In Regina
I fell in love
With her frown

I won’t kiss you now but I will once you’re gone
I won’t miss you now I won’t miss you at all
I won’t kiss you now too afraid that you’ll cry
I won’t miss you now and I won’t give a shit if you die

Apart from the Regina part, having never been there, I'm totally feeling this song right now. The girl's part really conveys that 'I care but I'm not showing it' type emotion. Being strong, and unemotional and hell even a little spiteful.

Ehhh.. I think I'm going to make it a point to go somewhere for the long weekend, far from home. It could be rough, otherwise. Then again, it could be okay. *shrug* One never knows.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Cease and Desist... really?

So as some of you may know, I make a rather incidental amount of money making and selling some crafts through an Etsy store. Many of the things I've created are made with cuttings from books, comics, etc and to the best of my knowledge the exposure of my site has been marginal at best.

Imagine my surprise when I received an email today from a lawyer in wisconsin on behalf of the estate of Shel Silverstein asking me to cease and desist with my unauthorized use of copyrighted images 'including but not limited to light switch plates'.

Yes, the catalyst for all of this was a seven-dollar switch plate that i had made using a couple of pages of "A Light In The Attic", my copy of which had been all but destroyed by two little girls who took a while to learn how to properly handle books.

Let me first say that I get copyright laws and why they are in place, but this still saddens me, mainly because my motivation for making this (and two other items, another plate and a coaster set, which had previously sold) were mainly because I am a huge fan of Mr. Silverstein and I knew others could appreciate this kind of nostalgia as much as I do. Being told to cease and desist is disturbing just in that it makes it sound like I acted in malice with the sole motivation of bilking the Mr. Silverstein's descendants out of a lousy seven bucks. Twenty if you count the previously sold items.

I think I'd be more sympathetic if it were the artist himself sending an official letter via lawyer as a way of saying "Hey, miss, this is my work.. not cool.' To which I could have said "My apologies.. my intent was to honor rather than devalue your work." Because it's the estate making the complaint I am irked. Why? I'm not sure. Maybe because I have a vision of some guy being hired to randomly google keywords that may be linked to Mr. Silverstein's work. Perhaps it's because I dislike the idea of someone laying claim to something based solely on the fact that they share some DNA with the genius who had created it.

At any rate.. the listing has been pulled from the site. I considered writing to ask permission to use the images, but I figured for the trouble, I'd just pull the listing, and put it up in my own kitchen, since frankly, I like it. And some small part of me thinks that Mr. Silverstein, where-ever he may be now, would like it too.

I saw a picture today...

Oh, Facebook.

You bringer of unexpected memories of the past, both sweet and bittersweet.

It amazes me that I can sit here, completely unsuspectingly and a single photo posted by someone I have never met in my life can transport me to a time I hadn't thought of in years. A picture of three long-haired high school boys, giving an unknown camera-person the finger outside of a run-down cabin.

When I was about 15 years old, my family was visited my aunt and uncle, who were not really my aunt and uncle but rather two of my parents' closest friends (although incidentally it turned out that we were somehow related by marriage a few generations back). They had three children, the youngest one a year older than I. Running with the extended-family dynamic, I grew up thinking of these kids as my cousins. In childhood, I was closer with them than most of my blood-cousins anyway.

As we grew older, it became less cool to be shipped around while our parents got together and I'm pretty sure that this was one of the last times any of the kids decided to come up to our place with Auntie Lyn and Uncle Steve. This time, I believe it was sometime in late April, my youngest cousin Jamie came along and brought a friend...

Ohh boy, was my awkward little 15-yr-old self smitten.

For two days I experienced what was, to date, one of the most intense if short-lived crushes on the slightly older friend that had invaded my home. Tall, slim and long-haired, and musically inclined which was green-light-go for my adolescent fantasies. Whereas my cousin, in typical-16-year-old guy fashion (no hard feelings Jamie!) was not particularly interested in hanging out with his vaguely odd, dweeby little cousin, but his friend took an interest in talking to me about my musical interests and aspirations, and although in retrospect this was likely more-or-less a bone-throwing act of patronization, at the time I was enthralled with the attention.

Being the socially awkward teen I was I wanted to embark on some kind of whirlwind romance but my flirting skills were stunted and the most I could muster at the best of times was a giggle or a shy upturned glance a la Lauren Bacall. When the weekend drew to an end I withdrew into typical teen 'emo' behaviour - the moodiness, the candles and bad poetry, all that.

Through the years the memories faded, but it's surprising how a picture can take you back to that tumultuous age where your emotions rose and fell with the abandon of a discarded plastic bag (credit to American Beauty for that imagery lol)

Monday, July 19, 2010

Nothing to write home about..

Holy hannah. Busy. What's been new?

Had planned to write a blog concerning my opinions regarding provincial coverage of up to three rounds of IVF, since I have decidedly mixed emotions on the subject. However, as sometimes happens, after doing a little research I came to the conclusion that there's quite an abundance of information to take into consideration and decided that my opinions aren't exactly what you may call, informed. Maybe down the road, but at this point in time, I'd simply be blowing smoke out the hindquarters.

The emotional issues of the past week or two are being worked, but I'm in a good place with how things have turned out. Occasionally we are presented with challenges that are beyond any one person's control. At any rate, the situation remains amicable and this pleases me.

On the creative end of things, I have a little over a month before the Centennial Museum show on the 29th and I working together a setlist, although I've come to the conclusion that it may be in my best interests to learn and include some more audience-familiar tunes to my repertoire. Finding the time to practice has been interesting to say the least.

I got the scanner from Lori working (finally! this, my friends, was a triumph and a half) and the most recent ex-boy with whom things are going so amicably gave me a bunch of old CD covers whose artwork I've scanned in and have some fun ideas in the works. I spoke to a local store that showcases stuff from local artisans and whatnot on a 70/30 commission. However I'm not sure how I feel about that. *shrug* When I get some more stuff made I might samples in. They may not want it anyway.

Have my first official kick-boxing class tonight, having joined after a freebie session last week. One hell of a workout I tell you. I've been struggling to lose the last 20 lbs for months now and I'm hoping some higher-energy activity might help that. Mind you, I'm not completely unaware that I've been displaying a distinct lack of discipline. Okay, I've been staying disciplined enough that I haven't gained anything back. So that's something. But I had set the goal to hit 150 by my birthday and sadly, there's no healthy way I'm going to lose 22-24 lbs in the next four weeks. So I've kind of re-framed my goal for February of 2011.

You see, I've decided that being as awesome as I am that I deserve nothing less than to gather a few girlfriends and go somewhere hot and drink for a week. So this February I plan on either having some money saved or taking a hit to my credit card and hitting the Dominican in the name of all that is fabulous. I've heard many good things about Punta Cana. I have a good friend that is currently living there doing graduate work and I look forward to visiting her and her little family.

In the meantime I'm getting ready this week to take my little ones camping at one of our many beautiful provincial parks. There will be much to pack. We've been a few years now, and it's generally a lot of fun.

Til next time...

Friday, July 9, 2010

Say what you mean, don't say it mean.

A friend of mine brought an interesting story to my attention today. It seems a professor of religion at the University of Illinois was fired over comments regarding the Catholic Church's view on homosexuality being immoral, after a student complained on behalf of an anonymous friend. The comments were labeled as 'hate speech'.

The first reaction many people had to my friend's post was along the lines of 'Erm.. you're taking a course on Catholicism, why are you surprised at being taught as Catholic doctrine??' However, I asked.. was the professor in question teaching doctrine, or stating his own opinion? As it turns out according to the article above, he did state that this was an opinion he shared.

What we have here, is a political hot potato (at least, for the University of Illinois). A situation vague enough that it can be easily manipulated by a number of factions.. the uber-PC folks who use terms like 'hate speech' to quell opinions that don't match their own, and the ultra-right-wing conservatives who use the concept of free speech to perpetuate hate and ignorance.

Either way, it doesn't do anything constructive for the case of critical thinking.

The way I see it, the difference between 'personal opinion' and 'hate speech' is this:

Opinion: "I don't agree with or like {marginalized group of people}"
Hate Speech: "I don't agree with or like {marginalized group of people}. They should be wiped out/imprisoned/beat up/poked with sticks/otherwise tormented and degraded"

The funny thing is, in both the liberal and conservative media I have seen on this story, there's a lack of any direct quote or context. Was this dude going off on a diatribe about 'the gays' and fire and brimstone in the middle of a lecture? Was perhaps the complainant a gay student who felt that this may be held against him? Did the prof know this? Then yeah, I would say disciplinary action would be in order (even if he didn't know).

However, suppose he was teaching the Catholic view (as is his prerogative in a class on Catholicism - durr) and a student inquired "What do you think, sir? Do you agree?" As a professor in a post-secondary institution, should he be bound by political correctness to keep his mouth shut? or would he be compelled to be open with his students by giving his honest opinion? Should a professor be maligned and disciplined for giving his honest opinion (even if others, this author included, may find them to be ignorant and archaic?)

No, that's silly, of course not. Right?

Let's play a little devils advocate here. What if this was a history professor.. or specifically a 20th century history professor.. even more specifically, a 20th Century European History professor, teaching on WWII and the Holocaust. The professor states that to this day, some people still do not believe that the Holocaust really occurred. A student asks 'Do you agree with this belief?' and the professor honestly states that no, he does NOT believe the Holocaust occurred.

THIS professor is now a holocaust denier, and guilty of hate crimes under our laws*. Kind of muddies the waters there, doesn't it?

So this begs the question.. in an post-secondary setting, should professors have complete academic freedom in their lectures? It's not so much a black and white answer.

On one hand, no student should feel maligned in a lecture or that their religion/race/gender/orientation etc may be held against them in regards to their academic performance.

On the other hand, academic professors have been known to express controversial opinions and arguments on a variety of topics. One of the major tenets of academia is the ability to think critically, and form cohesive arguments. How do you learn to think and argue critically when you agree with everything you're been told? In my first year of schooling, I'd come out of some of my classes almost in tears in anger and confusion, because I was forced to face ideas that I was less-than-comfortable with. However, as time rolled on, these were the classes that taught me to really look at all sides of an argument, until I either A) was able to rebut with a cohesive argument or B) was more open to views that I hadn't considered before.

In one article on the subject the Alliance Defense Fund, which is looking into the situation stated:

"A university cannot censor professors' speech – including classroom speech related to the topic of the class – merely because some students find that speech 'offensive.' Professors have the freedom to challenge students and to educate them by exposing them to different views"

Do you agree?

*Yes, I suck. Holocaust Denial is not covered under Canadian Hate Speech laws. Oops.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Dory the fish was one hell of a philosopher.

Emotional Wreckage has been downgraded from Edmund Fitzgerald to Rusty-Leaking Bass Boat at the bottom of some generic lake in the mountains. Closure is good. Walking away without a lot of hostility is good. Sad, yes I am (apparently I am also Yoda) but I shall live through the day. Just Keep Swimming.

The upside to distress is that it becomes an excellent excuse to throw myself into my creative endeavors. I'm working on trying to get a scanner given to me by my friend Lori to work so that I can create more switch plates and other fun things for my Etsy store (whore, whore, whore) without unecessarily destroying more books and magazines. As Lori pointed out too.. people might want more than one. Although one of a kind can be a drawing point, right now, once I've made something, that's it.

I have some paintings I want to finish, plus a few 'favor/commissioned' works to get started.

I just signed myself up to play in the Penetang Centennial Museum's Summer music series on August 29th. Almost as soon as I called and they told me they had a cancellation I started getting short of breath, thinking 'jeezy creezy, what am I thinking??' I had seen the flyer at Johnstones and took down the number. However I left it for so long (the series actually started a week or two ago) that by the time I had finally called today I seriously figured they'd have all spots filled up. Not so. Turns out they had a cancellation for the end of august they were looking to fill. Oddly enough, this was the time i was aiming for since I'd need time to fill up a two-hour time slot.

Two freaking hours on stage. Gah.

The woman I spoke to on the phone said if I wasn't comfortable with two hours, they could get a second performer to go after me, then I'd only have to do an hour. I think I'm going to try and prepare two hours worth of music, just in case they don't get anyone else.

A month and a half away, and I'm already nervous as all hell.

So much for clever.

When I left the note I wanted to write
"So long, and thanks for all the fish"
It seemed like something clever to say.

I didn't know if you would get it.
When I remembered that you'd read it
It was too late to go back, anyway.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Nautical Disaster - Terrible metaphors in the face of heartbreak.

My best friend asked me today how I was doing in light of everything that happened in the last 24 hours. I've been dealing surprisingly well.. relatively speaking of course. By well, I mean, I'm at the very least functioning.

The last time this happened I was a blubbering mass of emotion and tears. I'm feeling fairly numb this time around and though I have wept in sorrow, apart from the initial post-break-up breakdown, I've wept but have not experience the face-swelling, shoulder-shaking, wracking sobs, the uncontrollable torrent.

I put it to her this way.. if the last time I was a Titanic-scale emotional wreck, this time I'm more of an Edmund Fitzgerald scale wreck. Less carnage, but no survivors.

It struck me funny that this binary has me viewing the situation in a series of nautical metaphors...

Our first go round seemed to me as something like the Titanic.. New, Huge, All-encompassing and indestructible. My confidence was such that I felt nothing could sink or destroy what I felt we had. With naive abandon I screamed "full speed ahead!" and pushed on into the night. When faced with icy reality, I was all but destroyed.

And the band played on...

We tried again.

This time, setting off with far more cargo than I, nay, we were capable of carrying into uncertain waters and a forecast that said "turn back, turn back". When things got rough and uncertain, the storm brewed and as the night wore on, it became apparent that things had gone from bad to worse and there'd be no survivors come morning. That ship has sailed and shall not be returning to shore.


Allow me a moment to stretch this already absurd analogy, as my various creative outlets will act as my life-raft as I navigate the wreckage and eventually find myself on solid ground once again.

Day one. Just keep swimming.

In keeping with our theme, and because Gord always makes me feel a little bit better:

Nautical Disaster

And yes, Ninja man, you should TOTALLY click on that. In the name of being a good friend lol.

well that was short-lived.

Things were amazing such a short time ago. Here I am on my own again. It hurts. A lot. Had I known it would be the last time, I would have said more. I would have savored the last kiss, the last time we made love. I would have tried to make a point of remembering every last detail.

My eyes are surprisingly dry. There are tears, but not the torrents that are usually my way. Perhaps I knew it was coming, despite hoping against hope that the clock was not running out on us. My main regret are my own actions which pushed up the date of our inevitable parting.

I really sincerely hoped that I could have been enough for you. A reason to stay. Maybe I hoped too high.


Are there no blinders on lights that glare

White noise on the eyes

From gas station lights and reflected ice glare

So that i can walk home by moonlight


Or can we go out to where the wind howls and stand to lean up against the trees

They've grown up so tall that you can't see the house

It's a fortress now but you know how it used to be

I can lie to myself

And say i like it

But i would love it if you were here

These words on paper smell like you

Associated in random thought

On my lips the words turn blue

Evidence i'm feeling lost

I can lie to myself

And say i like it

But i would love it if you were here

I'm just sad for myself

Cause i know you're clear

But i would love it if you were here

I can just see you show me your garden

I thought you'd grow roses and grapes on low vines

I wanted to know you when we were both older

I thought there'd be more of those wonderful times

I can lie to myself

And say i like it

But i would love it if you were here

I'm just sad for myself

Cause i know you're clear

But i would love it if you were here

You were here

Yes you were

Yes you were

- copyright, Sarah Harmer