Thursday, March 31, 2011

Important Puppet News

I went to a monster making party and have returned home with a new puppet!!

Allow me to introduce you to Jack!

Yes, I made a toilet paper roll, pipe cleaner armed Jack the Ripper. (He has Stabby Arm Action!)

And yes, I've put him in the same house as Puppet Napoleon Bonaparte.

I am a little worried that this means nothing but trouble! or maybe....

He's a megalomanic genius who nearly took over all of Europe. He's one of the most famous London murderers of all time and has never been caught. Together, They Fight Crime.

Bathroom Poetry Update: Still on Whitman. Ended up having to go find Song of Myself because the anthology was missing it.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Surfpunk does the Blues?

At the Bluesfest, I also discovered the Surfpunk through The Reverb Syndicate. They also had GoGo dancers and I had a mini-dance party. Finding them opened up the wonderful vista of surfpunk which has been super awesome. 

Like them? You should probably also try The Ventures (which sadly were NOT at Bluesfest. And are probably dead. I refuse to look that up for you [Nevermind, I looked them up anyway. Turns out they are still super popular in Japan and also still alive! Curse you black and white footage. So misleading.] ). 

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Bathroom Reading

Bathroom reading is very important in my house. I have been reduced to reading the backs of toothpaste tubes before, but I try to avoid such drastic measures in my own home. Because I accidentally read some of the articles once in the ever present Reader's Digests at my parent's, I can not supply myself with that monthly collection of entertaining anecdotes, kitty rescue stories and appalling conservative rhetoric.

I've been supplying my bathroom with soduku books from christmases (two books. two christmases.), but sometimes little numbers are just not satisfying. Also, sometimes you are a little tipsy and those grids get much harder.

So I've moved my Anthology of Modern American Poetry edited by Cary Nelson  to the back of the toilet and I plan to read it cover to cover over the next year (this timeline may be revised). If you are in my bathroom, please feel free to read a poem, but don't move my bookmark! (also feel free to read my bookmark. It is a tiny chap book.)

First up: Walt Whitman. Excellent beginning.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Historical dramas or A Love Letter to the BBC

Earlier this year, I fell ass over teakettle for Downton Abbey, an upstairs/downstairs BBC drama set just at the eve of WWI on a country estate. Now, I'm incredibly stubborn, so it took no less than three VERY determined prods from people who know me VERY well in conjunction with a general internet orgy of appreciation for this series to get me to try it, but I am even now waiting with barely restrained impatience for season two. (the servants! and the sisterly fighting! The Irish socialist who is also the chauffeur! The occasional clandestine gay make-outs!)

Now what I can't understand is why no one was also shoving North and South at me (not to be confused with the American Civil War mini-series of exactly the same name). In this one, Miss Hale moves up from sleepy idyllic South to the industrialized Millton in the mid-1800s. In amidst a decadently sweeping score, she learns all about unions and strikes, industry and cotton, yelling men, being surrounded by death and gets proposed to repeatedly. I love it. Love love love. (It may help that our leading man has been compared to Colin Firth's portrayal of Mr. Darcy in Pride and Prejudice. And if you haven't seen THAT BBC production, well, I will meet you back here in six hours when you will be happier. Also, please note, none of that Kiera Knightley silliness here.)

This series shares a lot of elements with Downton Abbey: the focus on class struggle, the exploration of a time of upheaval and change, really fantastic production values. But it also shares this man:

His acting is amazing, and whenever he is on screen I just basically want to change the entire plot so that he can be happy. I don't see why that is so much to ask! He better be okay in Season Two of Downton Abbey, that's all I have to say.

On a sidenote, has finally stopped being rubbish. They've begun to acquire a steady stream of shows I genuinely want to watch. I'm very pleased about the whole thing.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Bluesfest Countdown: Part Deux

Continuing in our list of Bluesfest finds, from two years ago, I give you Les Claypool. Super weird, totally mesmerizing, and fucking talented, he plays the Bass like nobody's business and I only went because a friend told me to and then fell hopelessly and utterly in love. Bonus, if you like him, he's done a LOT and is even from Primus! (which alas I missed at the Bluesfest THREE years ago. Didn't know I wanted to go.)

Here is the Red State Girl video from Of Fungi an Foe. Click it. Do it. You will at least have an interesting time.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

My Podcast Quest

I still love my apartment with a deep and glowing adoration which bubbles up in me while walking my freezing Ottawa streets, but am not so keen on the solitude when puttering around my kitchen. I also get tired of feeling my brain slowly (or not so slowly) atrophy when I use old episodes of Project Runway to keep me company.

So I decided to go and find some history podcasts. This way I could be entertained and learning ALL AT THE SAME TIME (amazing!).  It turns out this is harder than you would think. No no, history podcasts certainly exist, but finding a good one is surprisingly difficult (there is also the distinct possibility that I am incredibly picky).

It doesn't help that I knew exactly what podcast I wanted. I wanted a deep and anecdotal exploration of the French Revolution. The French Revolution is filled with Characters and Drama and Endless Politics and Gruesome Death and I know enough about it to be able to follow happily along while chopping up vegetables.

I did not find this podcast.

What I found instead was the most awesomely epic Napoleon Bonaparte Podcast instead.

This podcast is perfect. It is two guys who know WAY too much about Napoleon, and who basically think he hung the moon (or could have, if he'd wanted to and the rest of Europe had just stopped being such babies about things), know all the nifty little stories, and take you exhaustively and chronologically through his rise to power (and then his fall? I don't know, I haven't got that far, and I don't want to ruin the surprise [nono, I know what happens, that is my internet sarcasm voice!]). It is perfect.

I also came across a brilliant Royal Naval History podcast. Personally, I was not all that excited about military history, but once I'm done with Napoleon, this may be my next stop (unless I can find a good podcast about Darwin. Oh Darwin.). He talks about Nelson and his 'eyepatch'. Turns out, podcasts done by enthusiasts are by far the most fun!

I am still searching for one on the French Revolution. Unfortunately, it seems I do not much care for recorded lectures (so much less fun without the powerpoint, and also I do not want to try and memorize dates), but I remain optimistic.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Bluesfest Nostalgia

Ottawa Bluesfest is hosting a Gala Event at the FINALLY finished Ottawa Convention Centre (you know, the construction zone by the Rideau Mall) and although there is no way I am forking out that kind of cash to go, I am SUPER excited for the Bluesfest line-up to be annouced.

So until that long awaited for week in April when we find out what bands we will be listening to while praying that it doesn't rain (or wishing that it would on the hot days) down by the War Museum, here is a weekly collection of the awesome bands I have found while cheerfully wandering stage to stage at Ottawa's Bluesfest (and yes, we know that most of these aren't Blues. It has been noted. Just work with it.) Keep in mind that these bands will be the ones I didn't not know about before seeing them on stage, not the ones I was already increadibly excited for.

First on our list is Caravan Palace, which was on one of the bigger stages and caught our interest right away. They sold out before I even made it to the merch tent, and then sold out of the downtown music store. Thank goodness they can order CDS in. French electroswing from Paris, and so so fantastic.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Smugness in March

If you have been outside in the past couple of days, you know that the weather in Ottawa is ABSOLUTELY DISGUSTING.

The sidewalks are a slushy mess, with floating ice chunks in ankle deep puddles which stretch the entire street. We had a massive snow dump followed immediately by rain, and it is basically a death defying walk outside.

BUT! Saturday I bought rainboots, and I am pleased as punch at how useful they have been. I went out and bought the most adorable Hunter rainboots I could find (they are available in Townshoes for us).

They have been keeping my toes lovely and dry (the wool socks have been keeping me warm). As a testament to this ability, I would like to submit Exhibit A:

While standing in one of the smaller puddles, my feet are STILL DRY. These boots ROCK. Although note, on particularly snowy days, you may end up with snow inside your boot if you aren't VERY careful. Fortunately, this is not a problem with water.

If this ice continues, I may have to go out and buy crampons when out near the Mountain Equipment Coop.

Upcoming Events: Vernissage One Night Stand at Le Petit Mort

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Iphone Tethering

I actually went over my bandwidth last month, because I was horribly ill and mainlining the anime Samurai 7 through netflix like a banshee (this fixed bandwidth thing is such bullshit. Need to sign me that petition before it gets worse).

It was of course AFTER I received my bill that I realized I have a data plan which is approximately eighty billion times more than I need and could have shouldered some of the burden. So I went off to find out how to access my iphone data plan from my computer.

Guys, guys, it is SO EASY. Follow these instructions and TADA!  I will never need to pay for internet in a coffee shop EVER AGAIN. Now if I could just get decent coverage when I travel in the states.

UPDATE: Ok, so it is supposed to be that easy. I tested it, but only halfway, and then when I put it into practice this evening, I realized I am, once again, a giant liar.

First, find out if your provider supports tethering. You can check here. For those of us in Canada, Fido does. Then you can follow the instructions above. For some reason, you may not be actually able to find your phone. I recommend mucking about with the bluetooth, setting up the device, and then ending up using the network option called ethernet cable even though you know your phone is connected using a USB cord. Mine is working now, but to be honest I am not entirely sure how....

So best of luck! I hope it turns out and you too can enjoy delicious delicious data plan internet.

UPCOMING EVENTS: Whist and Poker with the Ottawa Steampunks

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Art is Neat

The internet is filled with amazing artists. And so, it turns out, is Ottawa.

Popped into the Ottawa Arts Court on my way to Dr. Sketchy's (my sketches turned out really well, and we got there early enough to get better seats! Actually thinking about getting a scanner at some point so that I can share).

I was there for the gallery show of Stefan Thompson, whose work I fell in love with many Art in the Parks ago. He's an artist with a serious environmental conscience who produces some gorgeous work: joyful and sinister.
I have some of his work up on my cabinets and it makes my kitchen so very happy.

Now, as much as I have been enjoying the plethora of local artists, my favourite artist is currently still Kelly Vivanco from California.

I have been following Kelly Vivanco since I first stumbled upon Patches (the webcomic of my soul):
and then I went off and bought this print:

I still need to get it framed, but it is on the list!

So in conclusion: Art is Neat.