Monday, July 21, 2014

Watching.

I've been watching a lot of stuff this summer.  This is great.  I feel like I'm always behind on TV/movies, and although I still am, I'm glad that I'm getting some good screen time in.  I'm also making great use of Netflix.  I love Netflix, but there are entire months that go by during the school year when I watch nothing.  Here are some of the notable things I've been watching.

TV Shows1) OITNB - Last summer, I binge-watched season 1 of Orange Is The New Black in a weekend.  I was so excited for season 2, but restrained myself when it came out in June, while I still had a tonne of marking on my plate.  I knew that if I started while I had deadlines at work, it would end up with me being called to the principal's office for not having my report cards done.  And, I made the right choice.  Season 2 is amazing; I can't believe how the plot and characters were so much more enriched than season 1.  One day I think I watched about eight episodes at once because I realized that nothing was going to get done until I got through that show.

2) Dateline - Okay, I will admit it.  One of my new weird obsessions is Dateline NBC, and it's all because of my friend Mathew, who likes the show a lot.  Personally, I liked the SNL sketches with Bill Hader that parodied Keith Morrison's creepiness, and I started watching because my friend talked about the show all of the time, and I secretly really enjoy Keith Morrison's creepiness.  Anyway, I've used the summer to catch up on episodes of this show.

It's paid off I guess, because on Friday Mathew, some friends, and I went out for drinks after the Jays' game and we had a great conversation about murder, based upon Mathew's and my Dateline obsession.  It was hilarious.

And, this is the best parody of Keith's creepiness, done by himself.  This is really why I love Dateline.  This bit is one of the highlights of my summer.



3) The Mindy Project - I just started watching this show last night on Netflix and I love it!  I can't believe I didn't start earlier.  It's nice to find a comedy that you can related to.

4) The Bachelorette - I watch this damned show every season.  This season has been rather boring (it could be because I haven't been drinking whilst watching this year), but next week is the finale, and yes, I'm going to make a night of it.  I'm not taking any social appointments that evening.

Movies

1) Chef - I saw this on Saturday and it was a really nice movie.  Highly recommended to any foodies out there.



2) Begin Again - I wanted to see this movie on Saturday, but we went with Chef again, so I took myself to see it this afternoon, because afternoon movies are a great perk of being on vacation.  I LOVED IT.  It's written/directed by the same guy who made the movie Once, and it's an indie rock musical.  Both of the lead actors (Keira Knightley, Mark Ruffalo) are amazing, as are the songs.  So far this is my favourite movie of the summer.




3) An Unreal Dream: The Michael Morton Story/The Central Park Five - These are two documentaries about innocent people convicted of crimes that they didn't commit.  Basically, they are like episodes of Dateline, without the added bonus of Keith Morrison.  Both docs are very well done, and will make you very angry at the legal system, and amazed at how strong and peaceful the people who were railroaded are.  It's so tragic that in each of these cases, there ended up additional more victims of crime mainly because law enforcement just wanted convictions, and not the truth.  Both are on Netflix.

Bonus Music Find:

I've been obsessively listening to the album Strange Desire by Bleachers.  It's great summer music.  It's even got guest vocals by Grimes and Yoko Ono (!) on a couple of tracks.  I highly recommend this album.



Friday, July 18, 2014

#100happydays

100 days ago, I began the #100happydays photo challenge over on my Instagram page.  I'm happy to say that this was my first successfully completed photo challenge.  (In 2013 I tried to do a photo-a-day challenge but I failed because some stuff in my personal life exploded, and I no longer felt like taking any photos for awhile.)

Anyhow, I'm super glad I attempted and completed this challenge.  The idea is simple: each day take a picture of something/someone/someplace that brings you joy.  Some days it was extremely easy to find that happy moment, like the first day of my challenge back on April 10th, when I saw The National at Massey Hall.

Or when I completed my Simpsons Lego set:

 

Or when I finished my first half marathon,

 

Or when I visited St. Louis:


Or when I made my dad take a selfie in our matching St. Louis bird-on-a-bat hats:

 

Or when I had beer at the AGO in front of a Monet during one of their first Thursday events with a pal:


Or when I Field Tripped with my pal Matt from Wpg:


Or when I ran into Ace at a Jays' game (I love that bird):



Or when I was a bridesmaid in my friend Wendy's wedding:


Or when I went to the Skydome on Canada Day and got to see an exciting baseball game and a big ol' flag:
Or when I TURFed with my friends Paul & Eric:


But what was almost more valuable than capturing these super obviously fun and happy moments in photos was finding a happy moment on those days when I wasn't feeling overly happy.  Those days were challenging.  But, I forced myself to look for something on those days that made me happy, even if it was just a song that I was listening to, a bowl of cherries, or Rilo making a funny face.  Or, even better, I would make myself go do something happy.

Like on parent-teacher interview day, which is always very long and exhausting, I was sure to treat myself to a cup of tea at the mall:


Or one day when I forced myself to go out for a run in cold weather, even though I just wanted to chill on my couch, and I felt so much better after the run:



Or one day when I treated myself to a beer and a really bad book on a patio to unwind from a long day of marking:


Today was day #100.  I went to a BBQ with some of my work friends' at my dear work spouse's house.  The company, food, and laughter were all fantastic and heart-warming.  To capture the day, I took a photo of the My Little Pony paper plate that I was given to eat my food on.  I loved it, and started to laugh really hard when I got it, and decided that the silly plate captured the mood of the evening perfectly, because friendship is magic.   (Bahaha, if you've seen the new My Little Pony series, which is called My Little Pony Friendship is Magic you would have laughed at my joke there, I'm sure.  But you would have only gotten that if you hang out with five-year olds a lot, or are a bronie.)
 

I leave this challenge feeling immensely grateful for my life: I am lucky enough to have friends, family, and a job that bring me joy.  I get to travel, go to concerts, baseballs games, run races, collect Lego and records, and have an eccentric cat friend.  I have so much to appreciate, and even on days when I'm not feeling appreciative, I have the means to go do something about it.  It's so important for everyone to recognize the happy in their lives, and I'm glad that this photo challenge made me do it.  I might not photograph it, but I want to be sure I end end each day reflecting on the good and happy moments in my life and being thankful for them.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Scribble something down quick; try to make the words stick.

This is my favourite song these days.



Do you ever wonder how the hell you became an adult?  I often feel that I am completely ill-equipped to be a grown-up.  A friend of mine posted some article about the difference about being in your twenties and in your thirties, and while yes, I can relate to many thirty-something stereotypes, like a love of sleep, and not being able to stay out as late as I used to, I still have a lot of twenty-something qualities like my kitchen pretty much just being the place where my microwave lives, and the fact that I still have cast-off dishes.  I could buy nicer dishes, but using that money for oh, a train ticket from Vienna to Munich, always seems like a better idea.

I get so busy during the school year, that I can often use that as an excuse for hiding from adult responsibility.  When summer comes along, however, I have time to do all of the adult things, and I've tackled some of them lately.  In fact, this awesome blog post from Hyperbole & A Half always comes to mind whenever I decide that I'm going do some responsible adult stuff. 

 This was me today:



After my financial wheeling-and-dealing, I rewarded myself with a beer on a patio.  Then a nap.

The other adult task I tackled this summer was finally getting my eyesight checked after goodness knows how many years.  I was pretty sure that I could see fine, but good to get a professional opinion, right?   Who knows what kind of ocular disorders could be developing?

I found myself an optometrist down the street from me and made an appointment for my first eye-exam in a long time.  He did one test where a picture of my eyeball was taken, and I got to see my optic nerve on a computer screen!  (science nerd alert)  After all that, I passed all of my tests with flying colours, but I am a bit hyperoptic (far-sighted).  He wrote me a prescription for reading glasses that are supposed to help me avoid tiredness and headaches when I'm doing close-up things like reading, looking at a computer screen, and (ugh) marking. 

I got the glasses today and I think they make me look a little bit Liz Lemon-y.  I guess I should wear them if I ever feel like getting my night cheese on.



The older I get, the more I realize I think we're all just playing along at this adult-game because we have to.  As I've grown-up, I realize my parents were making it up as they went along, my teachers made it up as they went along, and now I'm totally making it up as I go along.

And now that I've gotten some grown-up shit done, and some philosophical thinking, I can curl up again with my YA book, because I'm all about the YA fiction these days.  I'll have to write a post about it later.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Lately...

I've been reading a lot, watching baseball, soccer, and Dateline.  Went on a traditional cross-border shopping trip in Buffalo with friends from work, and even though I swore I'd buy nothing, I got myself some new clothes, jewellery, and towels. Got many fun trinkets and junk food at the American Target.  Ate at the Cheesecake Factory.  Oh man, that place is so good and explains the obesity epidemic in the US.  Had a pint of Blue Moon (love that beer).

Good times.

I've been reviewing my trip itinerary for August.  It's getting close!  I can't wait.

Wednesday, July 09, 2014

Come on if you're gonna come on.

I was going to blog about the amazing evening I had when I saw Twin Forks for the second time in three days, this time at the Legendary Horseshoe Tavern, but I wrote to my dear friend Becca T, and I'm just going to post the email because I kind of love it, superfluous exclamation points and all.

So Elaine came with me tonight to see Twin Forks, Dashboard's new band, at the HORSESHOE TAVERN!!!!  She had lots of fun, and it was a great show!  You should have been there.  I am going to look for a random bar concert to go to when you are here, OK?

Anyway, YES, he is still as attractive as ever and his new music is great.  It's like bluegrass-emo!  You should get thee on the iTunes and download the Twin Forks LP.  I bought the vinyl tonight and I'm listening to it as I drink Bourbonade.  (Bourbon + Lemonade which my pal Matt from Winnipeg invented tonight and I named.) 

Also, he played three old Dashboard songs: Swiss Army Romance, Hands Down, and Stolen and everyone sang along like they were on Dashboard Confessional Unplugged (remember how much you hated that?).  Poor Elaine, she was asked me a question when he started Swiss Army Romance and I screamed and jumped into the air, launched into song, and high-fived the beer-hoister* in front of me.

It was a fun time. 

Twin Forks.  Trust me.  It's Dashboard for our thirties.

Seeing a concert at the Horseshoe (or other small-ish venues) on a warm summer's night brought me back to my early twenties because that's what Becca T and I used to do.  I even had the impulse to walk all the way home tonight, because that's what we used to do back then to save money on subway fare, but then I realized that I live much farther away from downtown now, and I have a Metropass anyway. 

*Beer-hoister is a term we use for those who hoist their beer into the air in celebration during a concert. 

Monday, July 07, 2014

You are the best one, of the best ones.

This city does music festivals well.  I hope the summer fests at Fork York/Garrison Commons never end.  After my second year of Field Trip in June, I took in my second year of TURF (Toronto Urban Roots Fest) today. It's a three-day festival, but I chose just to take in today's show with my pals Eric & Paul.

I got there just in time for Twin Forks.  Twin Forks is the new project of Chris Carrabba of Dashboard Confessional.  This dude has pretty much been my #1 rock and roll crush since my early twenties.  I hadn't seem in years, and I was giddy like a teenage girl as soon as he took the stage.

I was so happy when they played a Dashboard Confessional, "Stolen".  (How did this come out eight years ago??  Where has time gone?)



I love the new Twin Forks music, and thanks to my TURF app, I found out that they are playing a little show on the Horseshoe on Tuesday night, and OF COURSE I'm going because school nights don't exist in my July/August world.

One of their songs, called "Something We Just Know" has a line that goes "I use my gut, and my gut don't lie to me."  Earlier in the day, I made a decision using my gut, which I always question, and I felt that this was a sign I did the right thing.  (Usually my gut is right, but I spend so much time questioning it.)

As if my inner-twenty-six year old wasn't pleased enough with Twin Forks, next on the docket was Jenny Lewis, who apart from having a great solo career, is from the band Rilo Kiley, which you all know is Ms. Rilo Kitty's namesake.

I missed out on her first two songs because the printed schedule said she would take the West Stage at 4:30 pm, and my TURF app said 4:10 pm.  We decided that the huge printed posters were most likely right, so I hung out with Eric & Paul at the South Stage watching Noah Gunderson, who was a fave of Paul's.  (This concurrent scheduling meant the three of us had to break up for a bit.) 

Well, the app was right, and I could hear Jenny singing "Close Call" as I headed toward West Stage.  Luckily, I got there just in time to hear "The Moneymaker", a Rilo favourite.  Her set was great: just enough Rilo Kiley, solo stuff, and new stuff to make me nostalgic and excited for her new album at the same time.  Yay!  This song almost brought me to tears.  (Note: I'd also had many beers at that time too, so I was super emo.)



I could have gone home happy then, but we also were treated to a fun set by the Bidini band, and then caught Jeff Tweedy, who was amazing.  We saw a little bit of Neutral Milk Hotel, but then we decided to finish the night with Hollerado.  That was a great choice because they are super fun.   They also fit with the nostalgic feeling of the day, because I'd had a lot of fun seeing them at The Wolfe Island Music Festival in Kingston two summers ago .



After Hollerado left the stage, everyone was clapping for an encore, and they came back out, but couldn't do an encore because all of the mics were shut off.  So the drummer joked that they should lead the crowd in singing O Canada, and everyone started and did the whole song which was a hilarious and fun moment.

What a fun day.

Friday, July 04, 2014

More dispatches from the trenches of summer vacation.

Yesterday I binge-watched Orange Is the New Black season two.  I knew I just had to finish it before I could move on with my life.  It was spectacular.  It gives me the same feeling as reading a really great book, which is saying a lot.

Today was chill.  I met up with a couple of friends and their kids in a random neighbourhood park. 

I was chatting with one friend on our picnic blanket, and I was framing some random story about the past with "back when I dating so & so...." and then I'm not kidding, two seconds later, so & so strolled through this random park.  "Holy shit, speak of the devil, look who is walking into this park," I said and my friend saw.   It was the weirdest thing.   We both started laughing, as my friend suggested that I try to summon Johnny Depp (who is a long-time crush, but I have to admit is looking rather skeevy these days). 

Anyway, I guess this proves that big cities are sometimes smaller than the tiniest of villages.

This evening I went to a bar downtown with my pal Mathew to watch a heart-breaking Jays game on a huge screen.  It was one of those fun nights out with a friend where I laughed really hard, and it's going to provide material for inside jokes for years to come.

And tomorrow's Friday!  I'll admit it's meaningless to me, but happy Friday to those of you in the real world.  ;)