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Wednesday, January 25, 2006
Stunning insight! If you've ever driven on the highway in Northern Alberta, generally all you see is this: trees trees trees trees trees FARM trees trees trees trees. Okay, so the trees are the Liberal Party of Canada, and the farms are the Conservatives. That's our political cycle in a nutshell.
No, I am not packed. Technically I do not have to be packed until 4:29 a.m. tomorrow. So lay off.
Obligatory valediction: In case something dire happens to me or the world when I'm in Cuba, just remember: love ya.
Tuesday, January 24, 2006
Okay, okay. I was half right. It's a minority government again, but with the Conservatives in the driver's seat. In other words, not much different on the surface. It should be interesting to see who's the first to get into bed with the anti-federation Bloc Quebecois party to get a majority decision--and why is an anti-federation party even part of the federal government, you might ask, but remember, this is Canada, land of weird compromises--and it should be aggravating to hear Prime Minister Harper yip on about gay marriage.
Two more sleeps until we leave for Cuba, or, as Jean says, one more sleep and one more drink-much-too-much-then-sober-up-in-a-panic night before leaving for the airport at eek 4:30 a.m. We are pedicured and manicured and waxed and gleaming. Kiss me, Fidel.
Friday, January 20, 2006
Friday, at random:
The very young, when eating solid foods, often experience dumping syndrome, meaning they have to bolt from the table and run for the potty. From my distant physiology lessons, I recall that this had something to do with the food stimulating the pyloric sphincter, which sent a message to the brain who then shot off a quick e-mail to the splanchnic nerve, who in turn got the bowels in gear. Generally kids grow out of it over time. Until they get old and fat and have a gastric bypass, in which case they get to revisit the wonderful world of "Eat Food/Must Go Now Now NOW." Not all foods make me lurch for the biffy, but breads and raw vegetables are the main culprits. Alas, I love them so.
There should be an award for the most idiotic movie trailer, and it should go to the current remake of "When a Stranger Calls." Why they had to remake the late '70s original that starred Carol Kane and Charles Durning is a mystery in itself, but it's positively baffling that the commercial gives away the pivotal plot point--that the phone calls that are scaring the babysitter are coming from the same house she's in. What's the point of going to see the movie after that? Imagine if that's what classic suspense and horror film trailers were like. "Psycho" would have Norman Bates saying, "A boy's best friend is his mother," followed by a shot of him dressed up as his mother and swinging a butcher knife. Or people in the overpopulated future would be sharing a plate of yummy yummy Soylent Green just as Charlton Heston bursts in and yells, "Soylent Green is PEOPLE!" Or maybe Haley Joel Osment would say, "I see dead people, like YOU" to Bruce Willis. Morons!
One observation I have from my two current acting classes is that I'm shocked, shocked I say, at how badly people read aloud. And although I am a snoot about reading, I honestly don't expect all actors to be avid readers automatically. But good God, when you're looking at the word "thane," and you consistently pronounce it "thine," even though it doesn't make any sense in context ("Welcome, Thine of Cawdor"), I'd say a little remedial reading is in order. One of my classes has a bunch of spillover students from the Shakespeare class. One of them, only one, has ever read Shakespeare outside of high school. So there are lots of comic misreadings, like the one woman who doesn't quite get Shakespeare's contractions, and so last night we heard "like the poor cat EYE th'adage," and "EYE faith." Joe, the instructor, is extremely patient, but I find the constant bard-butchery hard to take.
However, and I'm aware that this is just plain mean of me, the hardest time I have not laughing is when two of my classmates are rehearsing a scene from Julius Caesar. They both have rather noticeable lisps, which leads to exchanges such as the following:
Brututh, thith thober form of yourth hides wrongth;
And when you do them--

Cathiuth, be content.
Thpeak your griefth thoftly: I do know you well.

Oh, well, what am I trying to say? That Jane is perfect, and it is only because of the perverse ignorance of the Calgary theatre community that she doesn't have her pick of roles? Not at all.
I became profoundly aware of my imperfections at the riding stable last Sunday when I tried out a new mount, a gorgeous but fiery Quarter horse named "Doc." He was way too much horse for me, but stupidly I decided to continue riding him, even though his propensity to switch from a quick trot into a rolling buck made it impossible to enjoy myself. Fearless took a couple of shots of me looking quite tense aboard Doc, although I will say that I didn't break form too badly while astride, despite my nerves.
Went for another followup with the bariatric surgeon in Edmonton this week, and all is progressing according to schedule. I asked if there were anything I could do to slow down the rate of hair loss, and Dr. Davey recommended getting more protein and zinc in my diet. What, like eating a steak and licking a battery?
Cuba in less than a week. I, of course, am nowhere near ready to go, except for getting my passport renewed and buying a couple of books for the beach. Got my hair cut at lunch today. Getting my horrible feet, fuzzy pits and faint eyelashes tended to this weekend. I don't think it's going to help much: I took a look at myself in my swimming outfit (tank and shorts) and all I can say is, thank God there's a 24-hour bar at the resort.
Wednesday, January 11, 2006
Brokeback Memories: So at last I made it to my first of what will likely be several viewings of "Brokeback Mountain," in the company of Fearless (her second viewing). I'll just say that Annie Proulx is one of my must-read authors, and "Brokeback Mountain" one of my favourite short stories of the last 10 years, so when I say I loved the movie, you know I'm not exactly objective. However, I will say that I was surprised at the level of compassion Heath Ledger has hidden behind his pinup hunkboy exterior. And I was more surprised at the scene that brought tears to my eyes--not the ones that everyone talks about (which I won't spoil for you here), but from a simple scene of Ennis Del Mar eating a slice of pie by himself in a Greyhound station coffee bar. I can't explain why, but it brought home a feeling of loneliness that was so strong it came out through my eyes.
Anyway: I've resumed acting classes at Company of Rogues, and of course most people there were either part of the Brokeback Mountain production crew, or one of the extras, or knew someone who was one or the other. "Don't ever go to that movie with someone who worked on it," said Christianne, the instructor. "All you'll hear is, 'Oh, they filmed that scene on my birthday!' and 'I remember Ang really laughed when Heath said that.'" I had another chuckle when I chatted about the movie at the dog daycare. Apparently a bunch of the staff had gone to the movie solely to see one three-second shot of an Australian Shepherd who was the sire of one of the employees' dogs.
Hey, it's Alberta, and we still think this movie thing is quite neato. Assuming it's not just a fad.
Monday, January 09, 2006
Elements of my weekend:
Miss Scarlett, Saddlebred Mare: I will try to buck you off now. And again. And once more. Drat!

Left front tire of Ford Windstar minivan: As you are driving over 110 kmh on a busy highway, I will just disintegrate now. Here I go!

Piper, starveling hound: Since your mind is occupied with your two new front tires, I will gladly eat the sandwich you've just purchased and placed on the passenger seat.

The 4 Quarterhorses of the Apocalypse: Is that HAY you're bringing into our pasture? We'll just knock you over a bit out of boisterous gratitude. Sorry about the kneecap. Hope it pops back in.
Well, of course I'm overdramatizing things just a touch, even though the tire did really blow and I really did hurt my knee falling over a hay bale. The weekend was pretty great, what with the Ukrainian Christmas gift exchange, red wine, and a fabulous movie called "The Cuckoo." And fresh air and friends and family, of course. Especially big brothers who save the day by driving to the scene of the blowout and showing their idiot siblings how to get the spare tire out from under the van, and then do most of the strong-arm work to replace the tire. They're pretty damned special.
Sunday, January 01, 2006
Welcome the new year. I spent the holidays quite pleasurably at Jean's Dad's farm and my brother's house, and as I'd hoped, dogs and horses were a major focus of my stay. Aunt Nick came down from Edmonton on Christmas Day only to be presented with the spectacle of her niece falling asleep at the dinner table, awaking at 4 a.m. Boxing Day to finish her meal. Fearless toddled up from Calgary to the farm that day, and did her best in my and Nick's company to drink a full glass of wine over 6 hours while singing rounds and playing with livestock. She phoned me from Calgary the following day to bemoan her raging head and innards. By the next day Jean and her Dad had returned from B.C., so Jean and I celebrated with a six-mile walk with the pups and a viewing of "The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe," which was a movie to delight lovers of the books. Extremely well done and perfectly cast. We spent the next couple of days shopping and movie-going, seeing the fourth (yes, Jean, the FOURTH) Harry Potter movie, which we liked, but not as much as the Narnia film.
Spent an unusual New Year's Eve by myself this year--well, not quite by myself. I woke up with an astounding rash, the first in nearly 8 months, and was forced to dole out the antihistamines. This meant a farewell to any thought of a midnight cup of Hogmanay cheer. I had had a couple of itchy spots the previous two days, but overnight they combined forces and suddenly I was speckled with hives and scratching in my sleep. The best thing to do in such situations is distract myself, so I took Carbon and Piper out for a mighty walk and came back and went to bed. Somehow it became 2006; good luck to it.
So it's early January 1st and I'm still at my brother's house, and I've been having great fun on Google Earth, checking out Cuba and the strange little spit of land that is the Varadero peninsula. It has no idea what's in store for it come the 26th. Jean gave me a generous Christmas present of wildly colourful beach garb, and I intend to wear it proudly. Also, during the course of my shopping I found a somewhat suitable swim top; truly a prospect to incite fear in anything with a pulse. The CIA's been trying since '57 to put the skids to Castro, and now here I'll do it for them with one saunter through Havana on a hot day.