17 October 2007

new season, new blog.

It's been long enough that I can't in good faith return to this one. So instead of leaving a gaping chasm and resuming my bloggy world, I'm starting afresh. tea and symphonies.
Let's see how long number three lasts.

28 April 2007

Waysgooze!!

Today! Grimsby! Book-fair! Imminent Fame and Fortune with fellow-book-makers, lovely old ladies, errant literate teenagers, and, erm, other people! Books! Hand-made books! Knitting! WEEHOOO!!

23 April 2007

London Whores: #3

A Bike Accident of Gargantuan Proportion. (relatively speaking)

Circa 12.30pm, College/Spadina, Toronto.
I remember almost nothing of the event, and rely on Coco for details, who bore witness to the whole atrocity.
There we were, standing at a red-light at the corner of Spadina and College. She turned her head for one minute and turned back to see me lying beneath my bike, foot attached to pedal, between road and sidewalk; there was only a momentary pause before i resumed my chatter about something of obviously Great Importance.
The cause of this unique and unprecedented incident remains unclear, although it was pointed out at lunchtime soon after that perhaps my bike had at last made its long awaited stand on rankling relationship issues, taking the strategic immobile and relatively innocuous moment to leap on top of me and pin me to the ground:
"bloody one-sided relationship! All you do is Ride and Ride and RIDE me, AND YOU'RE ALWAYS ON TOP!!"

Both bike and rider went unharmed, and the former has been assuaged with a tightening of its clips and an affectionate pat on the saddle.

well, birds do do it...

I sighted the most remarkable thing yesterday, the likes of which I might never before this have fathomed.
Two sparrows were...erm...celebrating spring (an anomalous sight; I had always perceived them as a chaste and guileless lot) on a branch outside my window.

(I almost got a photo of it and then felt like a pornographer and stopped.)
(Ok, the sun reflected off the window and the photo didn't work.)

But what balance. what equilibrium. What HUSSIES!

This morning, only one of them is sitting on the same branch, and s/he is Utterly Dishevelled.
Like, Twice the Size mit ruffled plumage.
Plumping and pruning away, it's like seeing a bum with a hangover straighten his shirt, or rather, her tail feathers.

At last, SPRING!!! ***


***an edited version of this first vignette appeared in an email to one Ozcar Wildeflower III, before which I hadn't realized this information really should be shared with the world at large. stef lenk 2007. All rights reserved.

22 April 2007

and just in case you missed below

"LOVE-HUNGRY CODGERS".

there's still hope.




i tell you, it's All happening in London.

someone else said this to me, sometime, somewhere. (Coco?)

Julia Roberts is 38!! [sigh] I remember when she was just a hooker with a dream.

19 April 2007

very large unfinished clock.

So Pontiac Quarterly was wicked. Liz Clayton, you're So.Cool, and thanks thanks for the invite.
Pictured below are shots of the screen projection of my hand drawing a very large clock (3'x2.5'). In three hours I managed to complete, erm, three hours of the clock face. Can you say OCD?
And, time consuming as it will be, I will most likely finish this drawing. I mean, who wouldn't want a huge broken clock gracing their kitchen wall?

18 April 2007

Pontiac Quarterly. Tonight.

I was most honored to be invited to participate in this month's installment of Pontiac Quarterly, happening in the Drake's underbelly tonight, starting at 7pm. It's a live magazine, that is, live readings and live artistry, which is, erm, where I come in. The theme is impatience, I will be drawing a Very Large Clock on a wall, and I will be doing it Veryyyy Verrryyy Slowly. And given my cross-hatching nature, I have Absolutely No Idea how it will turn out. Eek. But don't say I didn't warn you.

and another object of interest, from the annals of my digital camera.

Utterly Hollowed. Astounding. NOT EVEN AN EYEBALL.

i've wanted to take a photo of this, Forever.

And yesterday, on a mid-day constitutional/proofreading break, I Did.

things that should be illegal: no. 413

the last dollop of milk, meant to expire FOUR DAYS FROM NOW, which WAS FINE YESTERDAY EVENING, going off AS IT POURS INTO THE TEACUP, forcing its owner to wander disconsolately out into the street, pajamas on, hair asunder, TEALESS, in search of a new carton at the corner store.
Not to mention the more than a bit disturbing phenomenon of being eye-level, first thing in the morning, TEALESS, with the weird antiques man who sits in his store across the street from me, night after night, gazing up at my window 'til all hours, (since there is NOTHING More Entertaining than watching me sit at a drafting table for hours on end, ladies and gentlemen, Absolutely Nothing).
Grr.

oh, Giles.

[to Wesley, of course]"You have the maturity of a blueberry scone. For gods sakes HAVE AT IT and stop fluttering about!"

15 April 2007

the first rule

of Facebook is, you do not talk about Facebook. The second rule of Facebook is, you DO NOT talk about Facebook...

...except when you're talking about Facebook. Which is all the bloody time. [sigh]

14 April 2007

my sick taste.

I was told the other day, over guiness and a tattoo gun, about this European artist named Wim Delvoye, who tattoos pigs. And though I found that highly amusing, what I found even better was his Euterpe project, where he got friends of his to paint themselves with barium, have sex in actual medical clinics, and made the x-rays into huge stain glass windows. For example:

11 April 2007

word of the day: incunabulum.

Definition: (1) A book printed in the earliest period of printing, especially from Gutenberg's invention of the printing press in 1436 up to 1500; an incunable; (2) any product of the earliest stage of development; (3) a cocoon.

a COCOON.

10 April 2007

little! dog! monday!

My friend Shan has ressurected (Yahoo!) little dog monday, her blog, and you should Go Forth and Visit, because it's gorgeous. (Warning, those ever shorn of dreadlocks will suffer bouts of Intense Hair Nostalgia and renewed desires to house birds in their heads)
Her website is Awesome too, and right now she is looking for submissions for her next Stones and Ghosts, which are the small bookish packages of Love she sends through the post to her lucky subscribers. I absolutely Must recommend and encourage anyone who might be reading this to take a gander at the call and send material. (Guidelines are at her site, click above)

from a Bloody Child Genius (with an apology for its proximity to the subsequent, erm, less G rated posting)

The below drawing was sent to me today in honour of an upcoming night i'm hosting, to feature scotch and children's programming, specifically 2 dvds worth of the incalculable genius that is Dr. Snuggles.
In the hopes that you will disregard the show/character's unfortunate name, dear reader(s), I assure you this is one of the best kids programs that ever existed. I got into a discussion about it quite a while back now, and couldn't take it any more. I surfed the blessed internet 'til i found a second-hand copy of the seasons on dvd.
Soon after, a fellow fan made himself apparent, and two more promptly popped out of the woodwork. And I do confess it gives me hope for the human race. Hope and a strange kind of faith.
That said, i will now post for you a visual interpretation of said Snuggles, by the self-proclaimed bloody child genius, one Steve McKay. Truly Excellent.



(The evening in question will take place on the 21st of this month and all are welcome. Email me for details. Be prepared for spotty camels, tea, the multi-coloured rainbow, Madame Dumpy-too and Copious Amounts of Scotch Whisky.

London Whores: #2

(location of phone box: central London, further details, undetermined. circa 1995)

09 April 2007

goddamit. One more. On the advent of "rasping pepperpot overlords"

Click here for a fantastic article forwarded to me about new electronic scrutinisers that the Brits will be putting up on street corners in the near future. They are CCTV cameras that scream at you when you break the rules. I'm particularly impressed that according to news reports, "children's voices are to be used initially to make the encounter less confrontational".
The columnist who wrote the article, Charlie Brooker, obviously a Very nifty sort (I love him), points out that "it's not yet clear whether the children's voices will address miscreants using formal language ("Attention, citizen: you are committing a felony; you have 20 seconds to desist") or in "kid speak" ("You're a bad man and I'm telling on you and my dad's going to tear your head off").
He has proposed that they make the cameras into daleks. Roving daleks to keep the population in line. Colour coded to signify the degree of infractions (yes, i'm taking the money out of this article link, but what if you don't click on it, dear reader(s)? You would miss it ALL!!!) Blue dalek=minor transgressions (minor shocks and warnings), red daleks = real crimes: (emotionless killing machines).
Screw London. Makes me want to move to Barking or Ipswich.

and all of this...

Has successfully procrastinated me away from my work on my comic storyboards and all the way to dinner-time. I am a clever and sneaky sort. [sigh]

London Whores: #1

Years ago, one of the things I used to collect was (were?) LondonWhorePhoneBoxAds (one word).
A few weeks ago we were discussing whores or something at work, and one of my co-workers (who has also lived in London) had never seen a LondonWhorePhoneBoxAd. I was dismayed. Could it be the bustling metropolis has finally cleaned itself up so much that there are no longer cue cards and titillating fluorescent card-stock tit-bits gracing the majestic red phone boxes of that lusty old city?
And now there is a whole underground of horny harlots and busty poets whose needs for expression (not to mention moonlighting clients) are no longer being adequately met.
Well.
I have finally found my old collection, and shall be peppering my blog with samples over the next little while. Be forewarned, these are all from the years '92-'95, so likely the phone numbers are defunct. If anyone finds out differently though, I would love to know.

#1. (a christmas special)



(it's the complimentary drink and mince pie that does it for me.)

tea, sociability, and a clever observation.

I found myself in a lovely tea-time discussion this weekend about the styles of different magazines (that is, many seem to have an actual style in which they are put together.) This turned to a discussion about drawing, and I thought about my tendency to belabour and perfectionize (should be a word) and draw and redraw until I get just what i'm after. And suddenly I had the most clever realization. My drawing style and process is to doodling what Brick Literary Journal is to DIY. How utterly perfect. And yet, now the pull to work amidst them both makes itself so abundantly evident.

as you can see...

the pattern seems to be NOTHING for days, weeks, and then TEN THOUSAND sundry bloggy postings.
And an innate tendency towards exaggeration.
Anyhow, onwards.

"Exorcise Caution"

A friend, who i have promised shall remain nameless, (believe it or not) told me about something scathingly brilliant she sent to a long-distance...erm...interest of hers through the post a few weeks ago:

The envelope contained:
several feet of yellow Caution tape and two sheets of paper.

One sheet read
Caution statement: exorcise caution

The other sheet read
Instructions for use:
1. Roll into tight ball
2. Throw to wind


SO. EXCELLENT.

Her next idea involves a re-creation of a cake she made about five/six years ago with someone else in mind. It was white organic vanilla with a red hacksaw baked in the middle to facillitate a prison break. She called it for those immured in prisons of their own making

Ah, performance confectionary tactics. Who knew?!?

Alfred Jarry, born 100 years and three weeks before me.

I was forwarded a link to this article the other day, which made my night. (Thank you, Robert!) I can't quite tell if it's fact or fiction, but it is by a guy named Jim McGurn, about the french writer Alfred Jarry and his Fascinating relationship with bicycles.
Favourite passages include the following:
Jarry soon became notorious. He took, for example, to riding around Paris with two revolvers tucked in his belt and a carbine across his shoulder. Some say that Jarry fired off a revolver to warn people of his approach. But it is known for certain that at one point he fixed a large bell from a tramcar onto his bicycle. All the same, Jarry was an athletic, no-nonsense cyclist and enjoyed tearing around the countryside. He criticised those who "thinking themselves poets, slow down en route to contemplate the view".

that's right, all you poets. (insert devious chuckle here.)

In 1897 Jarry and his bicycle moved into some most unusual lodgings. The landlord, feeling that high ceilings were a waste of lettable space, had put in extra floors, dividing each existing floor into two. Being only 5 foot tall Jarry did not scrape his head on the ceiling, unless, perhaps, he had swapped his flat cycling shoes for the ladies' style high-heeled boots which he sometimes wore. Here he lived with his scaled-down furniture, his mountains of books, his owls and his chameleons. A visiting friend remarked on the bicycle which Jarry kept near his bed. "I use it for getting around the room," said Jarry, and he promptly leaped on the saddle and gave a skilled demonstration.

and why is it significant that Alfred Jarry was born 100 years and three weeks before me?

Because this is a Blog. And it is about MEEEE. ME, ME, ME.
Just in case you forgot.

(ME.)

05 April 2007

being a MANAGER.

it occurred to me, only the other day, with no small amount of awe, that i am a MANAGER.
A production MANAGER. Which means that, without even knowing it, for the last almost two years, I have been attending, daily, along with my MANAGING editor partner-in-crime, MANAGERIAL lunches.
And here i was feeling like a non-corporate bum.
Well. Today is therefore officially Completely Dedicated to our upcoming MANAGERIAL lunch, now that we can officially exhale, safe in the knowledge that we have unhanded the next issue of our magazine to the bouteous serfs that prepare it for us, post-layout. Shameless slave-drivers. The lot of us.

instructions for a new toy.


instructions are silly.

TONIGHT!

(What follows is a shamelessly plagiarized announcement.) (I have no excuses for this. Except perhaps that the milk in my tea was off this morning, which didn't bode well for the day, so I thought I'd conserve energy wherever I could)

Toronto is home to some of the best known comics artists in North America. We have an active and vibrant community putting out some of the highest quality comics to be found anywhere. The SpeakEasy ComicsShow features an eclectic mix of Toronto's talented comic book artists- from those who do newspaper strips and political cartoons, to underground comix and mainstream superhero comic books!

The event promises to display an exciting cross-section of the comics communityhere in Toronto, as well as a glimpse into how good comics are made. As the old cliché goes, there really will be something for everyone.

Time & Space: Thursday April 5th, 8pm-Midnight, The Gladstone Hotel, 1214 Queen West Second Floor Lobby
Cover: Pay What You Can ($4.00 Donation Suggested)

This Month's Featured Artists:
Attila Adorjany
Kalman Andrasofszky
John Bride
Willow Dawson
Arthur Dela Cruz
Tom Fowler
Jesse Gayle
John Lang
Jeff Lemire
stef lenk
Francisco Ribas
SketchKrieg!
Diana Tamblyn


Come visit us!

04 April 2007

subject heading (an email that somehow made its way into today's spam box)

You inherited a small dick from your father and there is no way to help it.

It's the personal touch that impressed me.
a] They know my father is defunct
b] they've one-upped my actual (non)-inheritance to a small dick (so that's where that small dick came from),
and
c] they know I am powerless to help it.

Today I feel like the world is looking out for my needs, however meagrely.

01 April 2007

ok i'm going now.

I really am. I'm walking away from the blog. Trawling my ample bosoms behind me.
for now.

sundries of an editorial nature from my little office.

I remember trying to get my head around the concept of nothing as a kid and couldn't. I just didn't get it.

It's dramatic irony, i think i can't take.

(Re: comma use.) Do you like open style?
I don't know it's kind of growing on me...


ah yes, the bourgeouis pronoun error.

Magpie helmets.

I was informed the other day that magpies attack children in Australia in the springtime and so they wear ice cream tubs with eye holes cut out to protect themselves. Tubs they cover in stickers. Excellent.

UnUtterably Busy.

But a moment at least, for a few of my stockpiled bloggables.

on Busking

I ran into my neighbour Fred the other day as I journeyed on the streetcar up to Jane and Finch, and he gave me a lowdown on the politics of busking in this city, which I had NO idea about. I was shocked (or maybe i wasn't) to find out it's practically corporate.
One needs to audition (250 people are chosen), acquire a license (100 licenses given out, a bunch of people are put in a waiting line) schedules are made, and said qualified buskers have a particular station they are allowed to stand at which rotates every three days. There are a few loopholes; if you arrive at a designated busking spot and if it is vacant you can perform there until the performer scheduled arrives; if s/he doesn't, you're in. There are all the typical human foibles: hogging the "sweet" spots, holding places for strategically chosen colleagues, waiting in "line" so if the scheduled busker doesn't show up the sweet spot is yours, etc.
I guess what I find strange about it is the realization of just how much our "public" spaces are commandeered.
I suppose this administration is yet another helpful tactic in that endless struggle to end natural human conflict, but one never hears about this sort of thing in the storybooks.
(No I haven't. But I would, in a pinch, read a storybook about a busker. If one existed.)

my last book-making class

Why Jane and Finch you say? Friday was my last class teaching a book-making workship affiliated with AGYU up yonder. I had this moment of envy; The kids, who had come in with cell-phones and chatter and that buzz of gossipy worry one always has after school (or so I found) were practically transfixed an hour later by the task of sewing pages into a book. I'm sure there was a time when simple things like threading string could override my own worries and become just as valuable an occupation.

my little window-home at Pages

Has been passed on. As of about an hour from now. May the rain hold off until I get everything home. And though those drawings now feel ancient and I'm happy to retire them, it's like handing off the flame or something, I'm back to that little vacuum of "private beneath-the-bed artistry". It's amazing they don't create an art gallery whose rooms house all their art beneath beds. Or in old suitcases or atop armoires. It would be very accurate.

That said, I must to Pages now. However not before I record this:

peregrine vindemiator.

I remain, dear reader(s), despite the relentless pursuit of business, your humble and most obedient blogger.

24 March 2007

THIRTEEN.MINUTES.TWENTY.EIGHT.SECONDS.

Great mother of glee that's right. Beverly and Baldwin to Queen and Roncey.
THIRTEEN MINUTES.
Breaking my record of fifteen minutes six seconds. I imagine this too shall improve once i can stop reminding myself every second "I'm attached to my bike now, be WARY."

I hereby profer a sincere thanks to SW, who helped me install cleats in my shoes, clipless pedals to my bike, and appropriate lingo into my brain, rendering me one with both my beloved velocipede and the cool-conscious echelon i have no doubt inadvertently bumbled into, as i sing the praises for my new STD, ahem, that's SPD pedals.

And even more thanks for the chivalrous restraint he showed upon my almost immediate realization that "installation" wasn't much more than, erm, unscrewing the old pedals and screwing the clipless ones in.

AND for not laughing when I nearly fell over (BUT DIDN'T, take note.) in a nearby parking lot as i got used to them.

So now I embark on a new SPD age, where the only conflict remaining is how my Extremely Fashion Conscious self is going to bear the footwear limitations, seeing as I will now be in need of cleats on a Daily basis.

colour recommendations for false legs.

So i was sitting in my window this morning eating a bagel, as one does, when i saw a man walking in the street below with a fake leg.
(That is, he had a fake leg. He wasn't walking alongside one. That wouldn't happen.)
It was plastic. Blue. A Blue Plastic Leg.
This led me to ponder.
Who decided to make it blue?
Who thought, "ah, we have this clever invention, this prosthetic leg here, now what colour should we make it. Let's say blue!"
Of course, I have only truly been a happy person upon acquiring blue bike tires, so I'm not disagreeing....

back-deck astronomy.

My dear friend Jody came over last night for a bit of dinner and some back-deck astronomy. She is owner of the finest grade telescopes and a wealth of brilliance in the realms of the stars, both the ones she clothes by day (wardrobe for film) and the ones that hover by night (wardrobe for the galaxy).
I do confess a bit of relief that the authorities were not called. It did look like two comfortably-dressed girls had set up what looked not unlike a superior-grade long-distance missile on a back-deck. And had it trained on first the neighbouring planets and then a highly unfortunate pair of curtains in a nearby high-rise.

Anyhow. See below amateurish attempts to archive for eternity. (SO.COOL.)
(Curtains in high-rise were drawn and not worth recording.)

greenCheeseMoon as viewed from my back deck.


Through the Looking Lens.


an accostation (sic) and a new clever project.

It was that time again, and I sent a quick email yesterday to Martin Helmut-Reis, aka Tino, aka Bike Lane Diary Executer and Guru to see if he might furnish us with any new photos for the next issue of Br**ck. He proffered this. Click on a date. Any date. SO cool. People do keep busy, don't they?

done and thank you.

The Coach House gents really are so very accomodating and so this posting shall begin with a thank you to them, for suffering me and my little work-time invasions every time i get it in my head to make another book, as gift or print-run.
It's that bloody great Gluer that I can't work on my own. It really is a Very Large Machine. It's almost amazing that it is so kind to my little books, as Very Large Machines go. Would that the publishing industry (another Very Large Machine) paid the same attentions.

Anyhow, I've left five new copies of perfect-bound One-Night Stands at Pages (and oh, how perfect they are!) , so you may (all) Rush Forth Hencewith (sic) to get one. The rest are reserved for Spring, Book Fairs, gratuitous bribes, etc.

(and yes, the art window is coming down soon. I have no idea what is going on in the grand master scheme of artist scheduling, (and quite frankly, it's a absolute blessing in disguise for book sales) but, as Coco pointed out, perhaps they shall have to rename the shop stef if those now-very-old drawings don't come down.)

23 March 2007

Back to One-Night Stands(a second printing)

So, I've decided to forgo hand binding these books this time around, leaving that kind of Book Art Love to the experts. My second print run (21 copies) is going to be perfect bound, (thank you Coach House, for letting me exploit you so mercilessly, yet again)
Why a second print-run you ask? 'Coz the first one is SOLD OUT!! WOOOHOOO!! None left at Pages. WHO KNEW. So if any of you dear reader(s) are looking for a copy, I will, as of a few hours from now, have some new ones. I think I'll only put a few at Pages this time though, I'm cranking these out one page at a time and let's just say my Dr. Who scarf is at seven feet+ as a result of manning the printer. I'll have knit myself all the way to Pages at this rate.
The rest of the copies I'll sell at April's SpeakEasy show and the Waysgoose Book arts festival in Grimsby, and MoCCA in NY, etc etc etc.

time, the sneaky little bugger.

something has been amiss for the past week, and I can't figure out how i've kept it together. about a week ago, i sent an email to Coco at what i thought was 10.22am, what my trusty computer said was 10.22am, and then she wrote me back from 9.38am on the same day. Now, she's an extraordinary lady, so this was not completely unfounded, as extraordinary things go, but still I found myself baffled. She does tend to live in the past while I go about my modern geeky ways, but somehow I assumed the chasm of our respective nostalgias spanned more than an hour at any given time, if only to keep us from bumping heads in our respective temporal reveries.
Anyhow, we never quite figured it out. We did agree, (I think) that in some aspect of the universe that didn't involve email, we were in sync, and this was wholly satisfactory.
NOW.
This morning, as i bustled about preparing my second print run of One-Night Stands for binding, I felt very competent as I checked my clock, 9.53am, thinking I would be at Coach House in about 20 minutes, which was only about 13 minutes after I had initially planned to be there.
I picked up my cell phone ([audible sigh]Oh the endless gadgets) and it said 8.53am. Hmm. Perhaps I didn't move the clock forward (THREE WEEKS AGO, or whenever it was). No, i remember moving it forward, and thinking, much as I did above, "[audible sigh]Oh, the endless gadgets."
I checked every clock in the house, including my faithful wind-up clock (which I rewound last night with predictable accuracy) 9.53am. And yet, this 8.53 niggled, oh how it niggled. Finally I checked the, ahem, time-honored internet, and lo and behold, according to it I am here right now (as far as I can tell) at 8.58am in the blessed morning. Packed and ready to go, almost a full hour early. I have somehow had an hour of my life returned to me!
And according to this blog, it's only 7.47AM!!!
I DO NOT UNDERSTAND WHAT IS GOING ON.
Too Roo, nonetheless. Nothing a cup of tea and some useless blogging won't fix.

19 March 2007

beyond the 1-mile radius of my sofa.

In an attempt to coerce in the springtime and escape the threat of queenWest-hipster-deadbeatdom i cycled out to Riverdale Farm today (24minutes6seconds4redlights)
I could have sworn they used to have a mini-zoo out there, you know, emus, shaggy wildebeests, two-toed sloths, but I guess I confused it with High Park zoo. **
Or maybe Queen West.
Anyhow. The glut of Strollerbabies (one word) was not remarkably different from the Strollerbabies on Roncesvalles, but the quality of air was refreshing, and I certainly couldn't boast of seeing baby goats up Ronceys way.
Also noteable were the unusual bits of architecture and sundries, which hearken back to what seems like a significantly more interesting time.

retro bicycle mit Implement.

bricKollage.

old-style hipster living.


all this, some stewing over the new comic, AND the Jet Fuel, too. Indeed.

**ed. note: have received two confirmations that the mini zoo still exists. Praise be.

16 March 2007

resetting my bloggy world; a post in portions.

Since my ailment of a week or so ago, it's been a slow climb back up, or so some might think, but really i've been secretly squirrelling away bloggy things that I will now take this opportunity to unleash in a most frivolous manner.

I. my new arm.


One knows one's tattooist is Exemplary when he, mid-tattooing, pauses momentarily to bless a sneezer in the next room. Twice.
(In a non-denominational way, of course.)
THATANDMYARMLOOKINGSOUNBELIEVABLYBLOODYAMAZINGANDINCREDIBLEIT'SADDEDYEARSONTOMYLIFE.
(font size 72)

Bobby Five, ladies and gentlemen.

I will be posting Copious pictures of my bare skin on the internet for your gratification, imminently.

'Coz i'm just that kind of gal.

II. stones and ghosts.


Imagine receiving this little package of love in your mailbox. It is a Good Good Life.

III. is So Amazing.


My new tattoo is So amazing.
More amazing than my bike tires.
(only slightly more amazing than my bike tires.)
(but More amazing nonetheless.)

IV. on the nature of teaching.


As this book-making workshop I'm involved with unfolds, I find myself pondering principles and styles of teaching, all of which is kind of new to me, and makes me realize how much I'm a product of when I was 10. I went to a Montessori school for 9 years, and as a result have a particular take (who knew?!?) on how I relate to kids I'm showing stuff to.
Discussing this with teaching guru SG tonight over amaretto sours (which I've never had before and are Amazing, incidentally.)
(although not Quite as amazing as my new tattoo),
she coined her teaching philosophy in a way I thought was perfect. (I'm paraphrasing the following, hopefully accurately:)

[The ideal scenario as a teacher is to render yourself irrelevant.]

THAT IS. If kids can walk away knowing they have figured something out, knowing they have accomplished something on their own, having learnt something they can claim as theirs, that means they have been taught well. What they think of the teacher as a person is not the object of the class, nor is it the purpose of education.

I was awed and humbled, all at the same time.

V. My underpaid back.


Had another "publishing is built on the backs of underpaid women" conversation last week. I've had alot of these in the last year. The question is whether these jobs truly are irrevocable labours of love or whether that is a collective ruse all us girls gather under to accept the fact that we're doing nothing about being paid quite badly for doing good work.

Of course, these conversations are always followed in my brain by "That's it! I quit!", which is then followed by "It's far too late for me to join the Tour De France, my math/science skills are hopeless, and I burn way too much toast to ever be a chef, etc. etc. etc."
(sigh) And I love books. I do. I love making them, in whatever capacity.
So. What to do?

VI. sigh.


It's Fun being shallow and caring about things like my NewAmazingTattooThatICan'tHelpButThinkHasChangedMyLifeIrrevocably.

VII. something i most obviously could never live without.


I saw a blurb for this in this week's Now, which convinces me that I must go out and get a better-paying job IMMEDIATELY.
What was I ever thinking, and how will I ever be the same without it?

VIII. disclaimer.


The interest expressed in section VII is not to be confused with the genuine interests of stef lenk, who, marked devotion to new tattoos notwithstanding, will never ever EVER condone the acquiring of such FUCKING RIDICULOUS items as a "Clocky".

14 March 2007

15 minutes, 6 seconds.

queen and roncey to beverley and baldwin.

I credit the blue tires.

13 March 2007

New Arm.

This man is a Genius. GENIUS.

12 March 2007

FUBAR re-training module.

Today's lunchtime topic of discussion with dear Coco was apropos of me finally pinpointing the one thing that makes me completely, irrevocably, and pretty much Constantly FUBAR: ambiguity. That is, unfinished communications, stranded messages, stray emails, who went where, what happened then, what will happen next etc etc. This lack of foresight is completely untenable to me. Like, losing-years-of-my-life-stressing-over-it untenable.

Being a dear friend, Coco decided that the best way to be of help was a re-training strategy. You know, little lessons in loving and living with the unknown.

(scenario: Coco arrives for dinner one night and promptly ties stef to a chair and blindfolds her, and then runs around the place banging things.)

stef: "WHAT ARE YOU DOING?!? WHAT'S GOING ON?!?!"
Coco: "You don't know, do you? And you CAN'T know! You Can't. You just have to LIVE WITH IT."

(scenario: stef comes home one evening to find that everything in her house has been hidden.)

stef: "WHERE'S MY OVEN?!?"
Coco: "You don't know, do you? You just have to accept this, stef. Live with the mystery. LIVE with it."

(scenario: stef somehow finds herself sitting amidst many trees in a foreign land.)

stef: "WHERE AM I?!?"
Coco: "You can't know."
stef: "But, who are these guerilla armies advancing towards me through the jungle?"
Coco: "You can't know that either. And you just have to be OKAY with it."
stef: (sigh)

Apophenia of Immeasurable Significance.

And as the credits rolled the other night on the last DVD in season two of my dear Who, I realized, most melancholically, that there was no longer any excuse to be ill.
I sighed and looked at my (wind-up) clock only to see that it had STOPPED. Not two minutes before. No doubt in sync with the Time-Lord himself, who had just sent forty billion daleks and cyber-men into oblivion and closed up a rip in the universe.
Which is more than I managed over the four days of Hell my innards were sopping in. Sigh.

09 March 2007

stomach flu: day three

fever: gone
stomach: extremely woozy but hopeful.
demeanour: NOT PLEASANT.

06 March 2007

five words.

THE.NEW.WHO.SEASON.TWO.

leaving the house is HIGHLY overrated.

the next generation.

first there was despair.
then there was doubt.
then there was elbow grease, shed rubber, and an expectant pair of naked wheels.
now there are 23 c's.
(which strangely, Blogger will not accept as a moniker, unless i put a space between the number and letter. Fascinating)
BLUE 23 c's.
It's like i've shed my training wheels.
For Glorious New Blue-Bike-wheeled sleekdom.

03 March 2007

take me out to the bike show.

Today I am going to the bike show. And I am extraordinarily excited. I've wanted to go for three years now, but haven't had the organizational skills, the wherewithal, or, let's face it, the balls to go before.
Then, a few weeks ago, Scott Waters B.T.B.E (Big Time Bike Enthusiast) mentioned it and i thought "NOW'S MY CHANCE!!". Shan S.P.B.H ia (Seeker of Pink Bike Helmet in absentia) has assured me that if I stay close by Willy E.F.W.E.M.E.Z.C (Exemplary Five-year-old Wearing Even More Exemplary Zelda Cap) I will get loads of free stuff.

Now. Seeing as I am a member of the M.E.S.I.C.R (Much Enthused But Stunningly Ignorant Cyclist Rabble), i find myself in a bit of a state. This is the big time. My "impressive" record of changing flats and brake cables will garner me nothing in this lions' den, but perhaps a derisive snicker, a lollipop, and directions to the ladies' loo. But it's a fact; much like talking to people about television, pop culture, or the daily news, I only know what things look like, not what they are called. And if you think my grave misdemeanours surrounding the subject of clipless pedals are bad, don't even bother asking how long I went without knowing what Seinfeld looks like.

And, in my feeble defense, I draw real good. I could tell you a very great deal about the minutiae of graphite pencils, were the need to arise.

But back to my bikeless lingo. Contemplating possible disguises of this grievous problem i considered a few things. A strategically placed shim on my wedding finger? An allen key dangling from my shoelace?
Then I relented. Like most states of nature, there's nothing to be done for the ignorance, except bask in it.
So, may your sympathies be with me, dear reader(s). And though I imagine a brown leather saddle might still be piteously out of my price range, please, Great Gods of Bicycle Pimping, PLEASE MAY THERE BE BLUE TIRES!!!!

02 March 2007

It's lunch-time and Coco is not here.

Which gives me no recourse except this bloody blog.
So.
Walking home yesterday i saw a man moping along with a giant blue snow-shovel. I thought this a rather clever thing, given the state of the sidewalks, althought he was swinging it around in a way that was also vaguely disconcerting, especially as I tromped by him.
Then this morning, on my way to work, i saw him again, still with the shovel, this time clearing away watery muck as he walked.
I wonder if he thinks that he has to clear a new path through his life every day, just so he can get through it all.

the name Pru.

I'm not allowed to blog about how this name came about, but Sweet Lord. PRU. A nickname. For someone who is not named Prudence, and who lives in Chichester, no less.

01 March 2007

today's banal events of note.

I was told by an author I'm corresponding with for work that I have the most "pleasant emailside manner" ever.
Sigh. Emailside manner.
Such a modern and lovely compliment, and I'm citing it here that I might remember to use it in the future on like-mannered people.

Left my beloved bike and walked home (west-west end) today, 'coz I'm just not that hard-core, and wasn't in the mood to get trapped under something four-wheeled and menacing. PASSED ON FOOT AT DUFFERIN the streetcar that wouldn't pick up passengers at University Ave, where I started my meander. You'd think we know how to handle snow a bit better than all that by now.

And then, in the evening, drilled a hole into my thumb. By accident you understand. But noteable, nonetheless.

28 February 2007

we now return to our regularly scheduled banalities.

Scanning down this blog, i realize i've been going on about cultural outings at great length of late, and sounding like a wanker. (well, to me at least. and i read this blog too, you know.)
So enough of that.
It's time to get back to Real Life, and post some daily banal events that make blogs so...bloggy.
so.

BANAL EVENT NUMBER ONE.
Today i saw a great big man wearing a white bella clava and a camouflage puff-daddy coat (okay, i don't know if it was a puff-daddy coat 'coz i don't know what puff-daddy looks like 'coz i live under a rock, but the coat looked like what i imagine someone named puff-daddy would wear).
Anyhow. Said man, in said bella-clava, with said "puff-daddy" coat, was tearing down the sidewalk in a little automized wheelchair vehicle, that was about half the size of him. He was downright RECKLESS and nearly took down an old lady and an OCAD student, all at once.

And I thought it was funny.

of little use, but so funny.

(as a clarification in hindsight, in light of this bad photo) the two matches =the twin towers.

27 February 2007

the Overcoat and a lamentation.

Went to see the Overcoat tonight, second time (first time was in 2000). SO.GOOD. Like, Gratuitous Weeping Good.

In a nutshell. It's about a dishevelled old man who works relentlessly at an office full of gits, gets a new overcoat, gets drunk and cocky whilst wearing it, loses it to a whore, and finds himself coatless in an insane asylum, until they give him a straightjacket and the curtain falls.
But it's like a Kafka story incarnate, all dark and odd and haunted and bureaucratic and such. And the performers are FUCKING MAGIC.

Instead of attempting to explain its brilliance, I will content myself with a few notes about the production from the program:
• 22 actors play 64 characters in this interpretation of Gogol's bitter and comic tale.
• There are 85 costumes and a two-storey, 20-tonne set, which travels in two 53-foot tractor=trailers on land or in four massive, ocean-going containers across water.

And a few of my own crucial observations:
• The entire play is silent, there are no words, just selections of Shostakovich's Jazz Suites, Piano Concertos etc.
• Props include sewing dummies (!), many bowler hats,(!), one well-set dinner table (!!) wooden drafting tables on wheels (!!!), and a very old kermit-the-frog-like bicycle (thumpa thumpa!!).
• The pieces of furniture move by virtue of actors lurking underneath them and crawling around on stage.
• The main character is the only one who has a name, and his name is The Man.
• The backdrop is a huge wall of fogged out windows that open and close to form everything from a police station, an apartment building with a trollope leaning out the window, the offices, etc etc. And there is a huge rolling staircase. And rolls of blueprints. And ladies dressed dapperly.
• A man in a bowler hat cycles across the stage twice (twice!!!) during the production.

If i could ever make an illustrated book the way that play is constructed, I would consider myself a Very Clever Person Indeed. Actually i'd LOSEMYMIND.

Other than that, today I lamented the fact that I have no idea what it's like to be 60. And there is nothing I can do about it.

pursuant to the evening with the Shameless Dames

There was an act in Friday evening's burlesque show where the three ladies frittered around the man with leather pants, who was holding up a giant egg. A giant egg.
And Coco exclaimed, "Paris!" and I thought, sigh, no it isn't, would that it was, but the burlesque makes us feel that much closer, doesn't it.
And then she said "I'm sure of it, Paris!" and I turned, thinking the red wine had obviously gone to her head. And then she explained the story of the Judgement of Paris, which had obviously been modernized in this act with an egg for an apple.
Of Course! She confirmed it with a quick googling the next day, and the reminder that one really should never go to a burlesque show without a clever and literary sort in tow.

a quick addendum to the pastys situation: I was given a fuzzy white heart by a very handsome stranger last night, and when I got home and stuck it to the wall next to my door I suddenly remarked to myself that of course! it is sticky on the other side! And that, i think, qualifies most admirably.

Ladies and gentlemen, I am now one pasty shy of being a Better person.

24 February 2007

februarys.

Talking to 231079 last week, who was feeling blue about the passing of time, I pulled out a couple of old journals to try to divine what i was up to this time seven years ago. Given that most of my journals are a messy pile of unidentifiable meanderings and complaints, i was happy to discover that even though early 2000 was one of the most melancholic periods of my life, a short trip to nyc in february notes indicate an anomalous month of respite from the mire.
And also filled with the usual flippant ponderings:

Then, this morning, I happened upon another February snippit, this time from 1996, (good gods, i was alive in 1996!):

the place: Thornton's chocolate shop; Covent Garden; London (an establishment that had the wherewithal to employ me)
the time: approaching Valentine's Day

the characters: stef and Jasmine, purveyor of fine chocolates, busily preparing for the VD onslaught
a momple (not even googlable, alas, a momple was a strange fuzzy puppet on strings, very long legs, head and body fused, if i remember correctly, big googley eyes, constantly at the mercy of a puppeteer)
Jules, a remarkably humorous momple-seller actually in the employ of Hamley's to wander through Covent Garden endearing his fuzzy companions to the rabble.

Jules came into the shop today with his furry momple creatures....We were icing up Valentines Day hearts. I did some doozies: "I love you but you're boring*", "Oh, Mon Cheri", "now available (for a limited time only)", "thump thump", etc. Jules insisted we take a few of his own suggestions: "my wife got the house, car, and the kid, this is all I've got left" on an iced heart with a crack down the middle, and a heart with "for you" on one side and "for my wife" on the other. After wandering around trying to sell our shop and his momples to our customers, professing his true love for Jasmine and reading our hearts, he continued with his pithy suggestions, quoting Yeats and a few well chosen words in persian. He returned about 15 minutes later, betook himself to behind our counter and iced his own chocolate heart, "luv ya til the bomb drops, baby" and then took his momple creatures and left.

* (thank you, Beautiful South)

oh Burlesque.

We went to see the Shameless Dames last night, and it was SO great. I have hereby decided that if I owned a pair of pastys, or "booby tassles", as 562001 called them, I would very likely be a better person.
Given the weather these days and my occasional attacks of modesty, I would also very likely wear them on my ears.

22 February 2007

Remarkably age-ed.

My cahoot Willow and I started an AGYU bookmaking workshop for teens yesterday. It went swimmingly. I had a moment when I realized that students will tell you what they want to learn if you ask enough questions, which i love. It must be all my montessori coming through, but I'm a huge fan of the open table/conversation method of teaching, or what little I know about it. Anyhow everyone seemed revved by the end of the class, so I have a feeling some great stuff is gonna come out of this course, all 'round.

My favourite moment in the class; Whilst showing the kids Shan's hipster bingo gameboard:

q: "So, what does the word hipster mean to you guys?"
(vacant stares and quiet)
q: "Hmm. Are you familiar with the term at all?"
a: "uh, yeah, like, BACK IN THE DAY!"

Time does move on, doesn't it.

20 February 2007

"a season with the borrowers."

Today, looking for some sundry credit or other to assuage a concerned reader, I was referred to an old issue of Brick, dating Summer 2004.
Perched atop the table of contents was a reproduction of a sticky note with the handwriting of an 11 year old on it, and the following text: Dear Borrower, I have not seen you, but I want to meet you. if I do I will not tell anyone without your permission. Agreed or not agreed. Love, Sara
I was, (surprising ABSOLUTELY no one) Intrigued. I turned to the relevant section of the magazine, and was promptly and completely abducted into reading an interview between Ira Glass, Lawrence Weschler, and his seventeen-year old daughter, who wrote the note when she was eleven.
At the age of eleven, Sara was convinced that there exist a race of tiny people called the Borrowers (based on the books, of course), that "borrow" things around the house, trinkets and such. It seems that when her father (Lawrence Weschler) read stories to her at night, they would have imaginary conversations with the illustrations in the book, (father and daughter) and somehow, Sara got the idea that she might write the Borrowers a note as well.
This she did, on a postie left in a small corner of the house.
She waited expectantly for WEEKS, getting more and more devastated that there was no answer to her letter.
Finally, her father, seeing all of this and having NO idea what to do to remedy the situation, turned the postie over and wrote a reply.
The enthusiastic response was Unprecedented, and over the next couple of months turned into a Rampant correspondence, between this little girl and the imaginary "Borrowers". When she discovered they were moving house, both daughter and (as a result) father were traumatized. What was to be done? The only solution was to move the Borrowers along with them. Father carefully placed all the trinkets collected over the last couple of months, left for the Borrowers, at strategic places along the route to their new home, pointing out that since the Borrowers were so very tiny, it would take them several days to make the transition. Daughter thought this most rational, and approved wholeheartedly.
The situation snowballed, in a word, and then one day, completely unwarranted, Sara confronted her dad and asked: "Did you write those letters?!?" He was just mortified, had no idea what to do, said the answer wasn't that simple, to which Sara said, "Yes, the answer is that simple, did you write those letters?"
"Yes" he said, and both of them burst into tears.
There was a moment where no one knew how the problem would resolve itself.
Then Sara said "Daddy, don't you realize? You ruined everything! Because there are Borrowers, and you were taking the letters before they were able to get them!"

I am very very very lucky to work in a place where the occasional spontaneous tear of joy and overwhelmement is not greeted with horror and a letter terminating my employment.

the little old lady in woolie underthings

called our office again today. Poor old dear. Coco is sure it was her.
This time she was asking for sock stretchers.
When she hung up, we were quite flummoxed at how she managed to call the same wrong number twice. Someone had the clever idea that we should call the number she thought she was calling when she reached us, and before a second had passed, Coco had dialed the number, and most assertively and confidently asked the person on the other end if they sold wool underwear.
The gentleman said no.
But he seemed non-plussed by the question, like it was a matter of course, said Coco when queried. Who knew.

Intoxication

I do believe this poetry challenge a clever idea, and one much better suited to multiple participants, so I hope you will continue it Robert, and as a new blogger beware than many will lurk, few will comment, and then Many will comment (via blog or email), and then you will have a full-time job on your hands. But a noble one, as the endeavour has proven so far.
In honor of poetry in general, I will leave the subject with this, courtesy of Mister Baudelaire, mastermind of the craft.

One must be for ever drunken: that is the sole question of importance. If you would not feel the horrible burden of Time that bruises your shoulders and bends you to the earth, you must be drunken without cease. But how? With wine, with poetry, with virtue, with what you please. But be drunken. And if sometimes, on the steps of a palace, on the green grass by a moat, or in the dull loneliness of your chamber, you should waken up, your intoxication already lessened or gone, ask of the wind, of the wave, of the star, of the bird, of the timepiece; ask of all that flees, all that sighs, all that revolves, all that sings, all that speaks, ask of these the hour; and wind and wave and star and bird and time-piece will answer you: "It is the hour to be drunken! Lest you be the martyred slaves of Time, intoxicate yourselves, be drunken without cease! With wine, with poetry, with virtue, or with what you will.
--Charles Baudelaire (translated of course)

18 February 2007

real life.

987056 and I took two dogs for a very long walk through High Park this evening. I wore three pairs of socks and a remarkably warm coat in anticipation of the pilgrimage (a kind of foresight I'm rarely in posession of).
We sat on the hill and watched the sun go down behind the trees and sipped spiced hot chocolate from very small cups.
It was all very quiet. And I've never been so content on a Sunday.

onwards.

poem #3: no. (cute edits, though)
poem #4: no.

And with that, I'm going to have to graciously bow out of the challenge.
So early, it's true. My attention span is a fickle thing, easily grasped and just as easily swayed.
Poetry evaluation just doesn't match my time-wasting mantra, where this blog is concerned.

It's a very clever idea though, and I do thank you for thinking of me, Robert.
I would propose that you continue posting your poetic discoveries on your blog and open up the challenge to all readers, many of whom will have much more entertaining criticism than I on the subject.

In light of all this and in conclusion, I do retract my statement of two years (or whenever) ago. It's not that I don't like poetry, i like the poetry that I like.
Thank you for an eye-opening experience.

17 February 2007

with regards to poetry: an attempt to save face.

Resumé by Dorothy Parker

Razors pain you;
Rivers are damp;
Acids stain you;
And drugs cause cramp.
Guns aren't lawful;
Nooses give;
Gas smells awful;
You might as well live.

and some poetry.

So, I've been challenged by this gentleman, my stilt-walking teacher of years ago, to read 100 poems and see if they won't force me to retract some flip comment I made a blog ago about not liking poetry. In a nutshell, for the ones I do like, I give $1 to my favourite charity, for the ones I don't, he'll cough it up for the same. A philanthropic endeavour, to be sure!
Pondering it further though, I have to say I'm going to have to minimize the project. Any review I could give of the poems I have been sent so far would have me outed for an Absolute Wanker, given that I have Plath, Pound, Roald Dahl, Ginsberg sitting in my inbox to name but a few. All of whom I have read (and enjoyed) much prose by, so WHO ON EARTH would I be to decry their poetry!?!
I will, for those who have not read his comment in the initial posting, re-iterate what dear "clicclic" (072666) wrote, who has known me forever, and has put it both charmingly and accurately: "...I always thought of you more as someone who simply hates bad poets (which are epidemic!) rather than one who dislikes poetry. it seems in the 21st century that artists and poets have been largely trained by artists and poets; the new breed have learned how to 'affect' art and affect poetry just enough to get noticed (it looks & smells like a poem, therefore...). Previously it was people of very diverse backgrounds coming to the table and using common tools/mediums to unify and describe their experiences; suddenly one can understand the positions of both the WW II Field Marshall and the decadent Aesthete."

It's true. I'm going to add to it though. Us art sorts are a self-absorbed lot. I'm no exception. I wouldn't be able to do what I do without a bit of critical selectivity as to what touches me (ahem) and what leaves me cold. Lots of poetry leaves me cold. It's not bad because it does so. But to pledge allegiance to it all Just-because-it's-poetry-and-i'm-an-arty-sort-so-really-I-should-love-it seems just as silly.

Ok, enough. Here is the link to Robert's blog on the subject, since he is doing much research in coming up with these samples of the fairest art our language has to offer:http://bobsyblog.blogspot.com/
Funny bloggy world. How odd to read an acquaintance's account of my "communicativeness" (such a kind word for it), and I'm beginning to think I should be paying Darren O'Donnell royalties for all the traffic that seems to unwittingly end up in my small corner of blog world due to that infamous debate of so long ago.

ANYHOW.

The first poem. From what I understand, these poems will appear on Robert's blog, I am long-winded enough without posting them here. You can click on the title for the link, though.

Lady Lazarus by Sylvia Plath.

Surprisingly, I wasn't that fond of this one. i Adore Sylvia Plath, that is no secret, I named a series of paintings after her oven, but I found this poem was too wordy. (shrug) SUBJECTIVE, remember. I'm NOT saying it's bad. I'm just saying, on the whole *I* didn't like it. There were a couple of stanzas that Struck me (the way I imagine the whole thing should, for me to quake in my boots and announce "I've just been poetically struck!", but it was only a few stanzas that did it.
...
I've just read it again to be sure. I just think it could have been alot shorter, and blown my mind with the gems, instead of nestling them in unnecessary wordy details.

Prose is for details.

The second poem: The River Merchant's Wife: a Letter by Ezra Pound.

(sigh) Now I have a feeling this is going to turn my blog into some sort of constant public apology, but this poem didn't appeal to me either. Again, I think it is well-written, for that I'll happily set my $1 aside, but I wasn't really drawn in by it. Sorry.

JUST TO BE ASOLUTELY SURE IT'S CLEAR: MY OPINION OF THESE POEMS IS NOT, AND NEVER WILL BE, A STATEMENT OF THEIR QUALITY. I am not a poet or an expert on poetry, and I am in NO position to evaluate or judge critically. I am, however, as close as it gets to an expert on myself, and I seem these days to have some sort of grasp on what I like and don't like, which I'm assuming is what this is about, if I understand correctly.

Lest you think I'm utterly apathetic to the english language, see quote cited two posts down from Lullabyes for little criminals, one of the books I'm reading right now.
Now That threw me across the room (or the laundromat, rather) this morning.

gravely disturbed.

i'd like to say that i'm still rather traumatized from my viewing of Notes of a Scandal and it's four days later. At first I was disappointed that the film didn't have Patrick Marber's caustic wit and stripped dialogue from Closer, and I was trying to figure out why the producers bothered getting him to write this screenplay, if he wasn't going to write in his own style. Closer was DIALOGUE according to its strictest definition, while ...Scandal was characters talking for the sake of the audience, your run-of-the-mill "and then she said this so (the audience) would know about this" kind of deal.
As i've been thinking about it though, I realized that even without his trademark writing style, he's a master at re-creating this hollowed-out horror of what it's like to be a human being alone with one's own thoughts and misunderstandings, even when one is surrounded by others. Which is, of course, exactly what the film seems to be about.
That said, I get it, and I would like the film to go away now.

lullabyes for little criminals

If you want to get a child to love you, then you should just go and hide in the closet for three or four hours. They get down on their knees and pray for you to return. That child will turn you into God. Lonely children probably wrote the Bible.

--Heather O'Neill

14 February 2007

of peripateticizing, popcorn, and theatre for the end of the world

This is a sub-headed post. Bear with me. It's been a Very Full Day.

PERIPATETICIZING.
So. Feeling lamentable about it, I left my beloved Dervish lurking in my hallway this morning, given the unsympathetic state of the roads, and set out toward the busstop on foot. I only felt a momentary lurch of horror at the pile of people waiting there before deciding I would at least walk to the next stop, given the absence of any sign of a streetcar.
And then, dear reader(s), I was at Dovercourt. (I live in the very west of the west end of town)
Given that Coco lives in proximity to where I was, I gave her a ring, and asked if she wouldn't like to accompany me, as I decided "why stop now?" was the developing order of the day. She, being suitably extravagant by nature, especially on overly snowy mornings, decided a bit of brekkie was in order before we continued our pilgrimage. And so it was. We then continued onwards, stopping in several glorious stores (including the Paper Place AND Type, OH TYPE) to warm our toes during the trek.

(OUR V-DAY DECISION IN FAVOUR OF LETTERS OF INTRODUCTION)
We did make one solid significant decision on our chatty meandering: that letters of introduction should be...erm...re-introduced into the societal norm. You know, those clever things that once allowed new citizens entry to a work post, a new circle of friends, introduction to otherwise strangers by an indirect acquaintance.
We decided, however, that this practise should be extended to relationships. When one is on the cusp of exiting a relationship, one should be able to procur a letter of introduction from the break-upee for bringing to the next relationship. The same of course for those beginning a relationship. (Of any sort, really.) This would give both parties in the next chapter some idea of what they should and can expect from the corresponding suitor.
It seems to me it would make the practise of suiting (sic), breaking-up, and moving on easier, more respectable, and force people to uphold their good character once the initial excitement has waned.

POPCORN.
Arriving at work, we decided it was lunchtime. And soon after that we decided it was movie-time (lest you think this happens regularly in my work-life, it DOES NOT, but it was V-day, afterall), and we went to see Notes of a Scandal (perfectly suited to the day, if in name only)
I was Extremely Excited because the screenplay is written by one Patrick Marber, who was the mastermind of stripped-bare genius writing in the film Closer (based on his play of the same name) Not since Mike Leigh's Naked(an all-time favourite) had I seen dialogue SO accurate, so simple, so clear, and so intense, and was looking forward to more of the same.
WELL.
It seems he was adapting someone else's book, so the minimalism I had anticipated writing-wise was not to be had, but Intensity, YIKES. For those of you who don't know, I apologize in advance for giving some of the plot away, but it is, in a nutshell, about an intensely lonely woman who thinks she has discovered a lover in one of her work colleagues, and spends the whole film fabricating their relationship inside her head, whilst basically blackmailing said woman with a secret that could lose her her job. And the object of her affections, who sees this woman's solitary life, has No idea how her own sympathies and kindness are being misconstrued, and is led through this bizarre series of manipulative relations with the woman to keep this one mistake of hers a secret. The key to it being so intense is that there is no taking sides with either character, they are both intensely human, they are both doing their best, and they are both causing each other immeasurable pain and/or difficulty.

Anyhow. The film had the solitary ponderer in me want to call everyone I know and double-check with them that everything is in order despite my occasionally overabundant enthusiasms. And conversely, to give every person i am indifferent to and/or not excited about in my life Whatfor.

Of course, I will probably do neither. I haven't the testicular fortitude for the latter, nor the inclination towards disappointment with the former.
But I ponder it, I do.

THEATRE FOR THE END OF THE WORLD.
Ended the evening at the opening for Mammalian Diving Reflex's "Diplomatic Immunities: The End", which is, as indicated, the last of this project, erm...I think. It was great and I recommend it, it's playing at Buddies 'til 25th February.
I feel like, given my thoughts on their last show (one blog removed from this), I should take a moment to string a few well-intentioned ones here. There were things I liked better about it than Suicide Site Guide to the City It had the usual Mammalian "audience participation factor" which is insightful and definitely thought provoking.
But. For those in the audience familiar with the shows (which was alot of the house tonight, I think), the strategy tends to result in a pre-theatre introspection for attendees, (that is, how daring do i feel today, am i up for being asked personal questions by the performers or would I rather hover in the back and just observe, and if so, will I be allowed to, or dragged into a spotlight to talk about my thoughts on anarchy, God, and/or my covert sexual preferences) It was kind of a relief to have Darren share the question periods with all the performers, who are less confrontational in demeanour, without being any less pointed. The video footage of all the strangers/street people they interviewed was AMAZING, Especially the kids, who were asked their thoughts on the end of the world, the best way to die, and what music they wanted to hear, (possibilities included We will rock you, We are the champions, and a couple of other gems I can't for the life of me think of right now.)
Anyhow. I'm no reviewer, but I do say "Go see it". Perhaps not on a day when you are feeling particularly jovial, as was I, since the subject matter is weighty, and there isn't much in the way of optimism. But it's thoughtful. And thoughtful is good.

And so, to bed, and a happy V day and anti-V-day to all!

13 February 2007

the Absolute, Utterly, Very Best thing about snow

is having a bay window in which to perch and watch it fall. Honest to Gods GLEE. Double Plus Glee, even.

12 February 2007

poetically challenged!

I received a phone call this evening from the gentleman who taught me to walk on stilts some years ago (of course I did. oh funny bloggy life.), saying that he has been successfully wasting his valuable time reading this blog for a bit now (well, thank Gods someone else is wasting their time, tho' I imagine it's nowhere near as much time as I have been wasting writing it.)
ANYHOW. He was re-directed the other day to my old blog of 2005, where I stated at some point my general dislike for poetry, (excepting, of course, some remarkable and life changing authors (ee cummings, Stephen Crane, Lewis Carroll, etc.).)
So why did he call, dear readers?
To propose a CHALLENGE.
He is going to send me 100 poems over the next while.
I am to read them.
For each one I like I am to donate $1 to my favourite charity, and for each one I dislike, he will donate $1 to my favourite charity.
Goodness. I'm not sure I even have a favourite charity.
I'm not very charitable.
(Except when I'm far too charitable, but that's a different issue altogether)
Small furry animals are of course the first things that pop to mind, but I think Volcano Theatre would well win out as the most apt choice, if for no other reason than their staging of Varieté so many years ago, which made me LOSE MY MIND. (Varieté being "a vaudeville show inspired by the music of Argentinian/German composer, Mauricio Kagel, featuring dance, acrobatics, contortion, burlesque, clowning, magic and the text of Griffin Award winning poet Heather McHugh. Conducted by Robin Engleman.")

So. We shall see how this unfurls.

For the moment, though, I feel a short explanation of my antagonism to the poetic medium is in order.
How is it possible that an artsy minion such as myself, who works at a literary journal and a poetry-publishing indie press, dislikes poetry?
sigh. well, i don't strictly speaking. I am an ardent fan of all things written, and poetry has its place there.
BUT. I have the same misgivings about poetry that I have for contemporary art; why, for the most part, I prefer (ahem) naked italian angels on ceilings, and creepy etchings of spanish wars and monsters (Dear Goya) to nails stuck in the wall with titles like the state of my soul and such.
I just feel like so much poetry (and so much contemporary art) doesn't allow their audience in. So many poets (and artists) get cheeky, thinking they can outwit their readers with their clever ambiguity. (NOT ALL, mind you, NOT ALL, and I hope you will understand I am NOT advocating the composition or publication of literary pablum)
I read poems from here and there that do throw me across the proverbial room, but I respect people who use language to clarify themselves, rather than hide themselves.
Unless they are playing about, which is rampantly obvious, and rampantly enjoyable to read as well.
Art, in my small mind, should be beautiful or useful, but not baffling. Unless baffling, to the individual experiencing it, is useful. In which case I am fully in favour of that too.

11 February 2007

of shearing, archivism, and artsy nonsense.

I will attempt not to beleaguer my reader(s) over the next couple of months with tedious details of my book(let)-making process/fixation. If my last blog was any indication, it really did get taxing, re-reading this constant running tally of my navel-gazing progress.
But I will assail you with sundry discoveries along the way. That is, of course, the nature of blogs, chock-full of unimportant but (to me, anyhow) highly amusing drivel.

My next little book(let) begins with a haircut, and so I spent some of today searching for the photographic record of my historic shearing of almost a year(!) ago. Ah photos. Besides a feverish and only slightly regretful nostalgia for my old locks, I also found a few other photographic gems of times-gone-by sundry art ventures. (click on photos to see them full-size)

Reference photo (2006) taken by my fellow dreaded friend Shan, just before my shearing, for her slide viewer/book project Four Failed Proposals for a World that Won't Hurt

Mid-way through shearing (2006); "Possible use for severed dreadlock #12: an inpermiable disguise."

Film still from a fire movie (2002) shot on Toronto Island, where I came prepared with all manner of fire toys imaginable, two bottles of kerosene, and NO MATCHES. So Very Clever. (in the end, a stranger named Leo doing an artist residency at Gibraltar Point saved us with fire and an impromptu bottle of wine, bless him)

Photo project (2003? 2004?) involving many suitcases, old carbon copies, white face paint and lingerie. (Note dreadlocks from 1998,(the second incarnation), in baggie on bottom right. Sigh.)

Pillowman production still (1999), banana (ahem) cocked and ready.

And this, although not an "art" project perse, was taken only a few weeks ago, inside one of the opulent water closets at the Royal York Hotel. Graffitti. In the Royal York. It seems someone was tucked away in the loo, doing the math to figure out someone else's age. Or their own. This, my dears, is how the other half lives.

excerpted from Harper's Weekly

...Japanese Health Minister Hakuo Yanagisawa apologized for calling women "birth-giving machines," hospital staff in Yekaterinburg, Russia, were gagging crying babies, and in Cambodia a Briton named Bowel Anpaul was arrested on charges of pedophilia. Rubber genitals were stolen from the set of the new "Hannibal" movie, an Argentine soccer fan who asked for a tattoo of his team's logo received instead a tattoo of a large penis, and a Chinese man whose genitals were eaten by a dog when he was a child was said to be happy with a new penis built from his chest muscles and hip bones....

ah, news.

and at 3.30am

with dinner and dessert finished, wine bottle empty, teapot drained, knitting tucked away, and Coco heading off into the evening, i thought, Yes. Friends. The Most Lovely Invention EVER.
And then I found myself wondering, most selfishly, what would happen if Montreal went the same way as New Orleans, come June. (sigh)

(unwitting) courtesy of Stephen Crane, late at night.

if there is a witness to my little life
to my tiny throes and struggles
he sees a fool;
and it is not fine for gods to menace fools.


--The Black Riders

10 February 2007

35 MINUTES.

Roncesvalles to Scarborough.
I'm Very pleased.
I thought to myself, yes, Victoria Park, I know where that is, that's easterly, isn't it. The beaches or something. No problem, it's a lovely evening.(cycle cycle cycle)
And then I reached a very large rather regal looking building with what seemed like Absolutely nothing beyond it, and the "Scarborough" sign, and I realized i'd reached THE VERY EDGE OF THE WORLD. And in 35 minutes no less. Who KNEW?!?

08 February 2007

not that I'm procrastinating by posting COUNTLESS ridiculous stories or anything...

But my bog is busted. It happened about an hour ago. I heard the sound of running water, and went in to find the tank part wouldn't stop filling. An overly ambitious toilet. Who thought it possible.

(This reminds me, inconsequentially, of the tea bag 072666 and I found on our winter vacation in Cornwall in '99. To quote the dear fellow upon its discovery: "Look! It's the most ambitious tea bag in the world! And now, I shall BREW THE SEA!"

But back to my crapper. There was quite a kerfuffle. Javi came over and showed me how to turn off the tap, and told me I have a broken floater. Then Fred, my other upstairs neighbour and a notoriously handy sort, was trying to tell me how to fix it. I officially decided, though, that I will not extend my DIY aspirations to the arena of plumbing. I WILL not.
I finally managed to get ahold of my superintendent, who, bless her, told me the location of a secret key to her home that I might use her washroom, should there be any need, until it all gets fixed tomorrow.

I have to confess, I am feeling very coddled about the whole crisis, at the end of it all.
Glorious neighbours and blasted old buildings. (heheh) Honest to bog.

a bicycle christening.

Ok.
I have, over the last week, consulted acquaintances, loved ones, colleagues and strangers, both devout cyclists and the bikeless rabble, and have at last come to a decision.

DB Ampersand.

This moniker is not mine, alas, it is the brain child of one Scott Waters, fellow Reverent Cyclist, and a clever sort to boot.

(Actually, cyclist is a bit of an understatement. Cycling machine as I discovered earlier this year, when I foolishly thought I might match his speed on a pilgrimage up to York University. We were off to see the beloved Shannon Gerard deliver her masters thesis on autobiographical comics.) It was quite the journey. We ended up being a bit early, so took a shortcut through a park (or something) with a river. Though arriving at said river, it ended up the ruddy thing had flooded with the rains of the night before. Not wanting to backtrack, we ended up taking off our shoes and portaging the bikes across.
That's right. PORTAGED. BIKE PORTAGING. I had Totally forgotten about that 'til just now. Glee!!!

Of course, I can't throw to save my life, and one of my boots ended up IN the river before we made it across, and Gods only know what Shan's adjudicators thought, as I took it off upon our arrival so that my sock could dry while they determined the course of the rest of Shan's academic life.
But I digress.

DB Ampersand.
The Perfect name for my bicycle.

DB stands of course for Drop Bars, which are by far the most excitement my bicycle has had since getting stolen and then re-appropriated in 2005.

The D will serve a dual purpose though, standing also for Dervish, which refers (only modestly, you understand) to the constant state (so help me Gods) of my brain.

And the & part (as pointed out by Mister Waters) allows me to leave my options open.

Dervish B. Ampersand.
(slurp) christened with a cup of tea at 7.19pm, this Thursday eve in February, 2007.

i have Absolutely no idea who said this to me.

Found scribbled on the back of a bike tire tube box snippit, whilst going through sundry papers today:
I was very distressed when my grandmother named her cat "cukey"

06 February 2007

And it begins again. PART THREE.

Got half the day off from work and managed to be thrilled, despite my consternated wallet.
Went to the ref mit story outline and officially began pictures research for my third book(let). 3 hours sorting through 30 odd picture files, including such categories as London-Camden, flowers-poisonous, and implements-garden, Honestly, it's a Fascinating life, this.
I amassed 173 borrowables in the end, and the reference collection lady was very tolerant, duly stuffing them in five separate envelopes so that I could actually sign them all out. I left the library completely high on this IMMENSE Rush of excitement about it all.
100% Adrenaline.
And so, dear reader(s), it (re)Begins.

Other highlights of the day include a sighting of cookie monster mittens (on an adult), a copy of "the emperor's new clothes" in a (different adult's) bike basket, being fortuitously present for a TPL lecture by George (Yay!!!) Walker about the revered nature of the book, unexpected gustatory victory in my carelessly packed lunch, the discovery and purchase of sea monkeys for bk's birthday, misplacing my ring in this EXCEEDINGLY cold weather, biking across town, and then discovering said ring tucked into my trouser leg which I had rolled up in order to bike, and, last but not least, arriving home to stunningly red kitchen walls, freshly painted last night and then promptly forgotten about upon leaving the house this morning in a haze of pre-grant mailing anxiety.

Non-highlights include pre-grant mailing anxiety, followed quickly by LOSING MY NERVE in front of (IN FRONT OF) the mailbox in the mailing of said bloody application.
Yes, Mere moments away from letting it go, I brought the blasted thing back home with me.
GODDAMMIT.
Only tea and bikkies can save me now.
And a smack in the head should I not relent at least by Thursday, once I've addressed my newest round of anxieties over it.

steflenkbogsagain.

or that's what I thought I read in the browser window just now.

Anyhow. The office phone rang today, and after a short conversation, Coco hung up the phone looking quite distressed.
"What?" I asked. "WHAT?!?"
"I just picked up the phone to the oldest lady in the world at the other end. And do you know what she asked me?" said Coco.
"No, Coco, I don't." I said, which seemed the only correct answer, given the circumstance.
"She asked ..."
"What??? What did she ask?!?!"
She asked.....'do you have ladies underwear... in wool?' "The poor thing! She must be chilly today!"

Goodness. The poor old dear. Imagine the chafing.

In other "news", I spent much of my day trying to re-create this: þ, for a poem we are publishing in our next issue. An icelandic thorn, by name, it is a latin ligature pronounced "th", but is in fact just a P with an ascender, and really a very lovely symbol to boot. It led me through an astounding maze of olde english, mathematical symbols, and countless other typographical ephemera. Of course my computer wouldn't cooperate, and frustration reached fever pitch when I read that the thorn is sometimes used as an emoticon, (:-Þ) to represent a face with a tongue sticking out.
Of course, Here I am casting about with the academics and the typographers for old english ligatures while all the youngins are sticking their proverbial (thorny) tongues out at me. And believe me, the irony is not lost on me that creating a thorn on this blog took about .231 seconds, while creating a printable one in our house font took...much longer.

05 February 2007

of eyelashes and bike couriers

I have just had a nearly fatal collision with another bike courier this morning.
Ok, actually we missed each other by a couple of feet but both burst out laughing since we both had the same bikes and were identically attired in 20 feet of sundry woolies and full body ear-muffs, looking not unlike pomeranians on (exceedingly stylish) wheels.
And as I trooped up the steps of the regal George Brown house to our little office, eyelashes (eyelashes!) defrosting, I thought, yes, indeed, I really really love winter. Love it.

04 February 2007

On the naming of bicycles and tea with Woogie, (the wise and dreamy guardian of the lavender sheep) in the first colour of the rainbow

Out on a skating expedition last night, I was asked my bicycle's name. I abashedly admitted that I have yet to come up with one (the naming of a bicycle is a task not to be treated lightly, and I have yet to feel adequately up to the task.) When I returned the query to my questioner, his answer was "Mathilda Junkbottom" A Fantastic name, I thought admiringly, while my brain niggled...why does that sound so immensely familiar. Why why. Finally I asked, from whence came such a remarkable moniker. His reply: Doctor Snuggles.

DOCTOR SNUGGLES.

Well. I nearly lost (what little is left of) my mind.
Doctor Snuggles is only THESINGLEMOSTFANTASTICGREATESTKIDSSHOWEEEEEVVERERRRINVENTEDBYMANKINDONTHISPLANET.
(second only to the muppets of course).
I have not seen it since I was about 7 or something, but have just spent one Ridiculously Happy Sunday morning plumbing the depths of the internet for bits of Snuggles' nostalgia. *sigh* oh my Goodness. Doctor Snuggles.



Doctor Snuggles, a bespectacled inventor, complete with pinstripe trousers and duck-headed umbrella pogo stick, lives with Miss Nettles his stiff and formidable, but well-meaning housekeeper (stiff and formidable, indeed!), Dennis the badger and Nobby mouse, and of course Mathilda Junkbottom the robot built from junk to perform various useful and enigmatic roles. They spent each show (done in the 80s[?]) running around the forest and such, doing good deeds, flying to space in Snuggles' home-made rocket Dreamy Boom-Boom to have tea with WOOGIE (WOOGIE!!!!) the freckled camel,
(the wise and dreamy guardian of the lavender sheep) in the first colour of the rainbow, and doing their utmost to foil the dastardly deeds of one Professor Emerald, the malevolent power crazed magician and Doctor Snuggles’ archenemy. (descriptions courtesy of the Doctor Snuggles website)

Sigh. I include a few more characters for your (possible) edification, dear reader(s):

Madame Dumpitoo, Miss Nettles' pipe-smoking consort,
Winnie Vinegar Bottle, the witch who lives in salt and pepper mountains
Charlie Rat, Willie's fox's pea-brained serf

And an Abundant and Vociferous encouragement to visit youtube where a benevolent chaply sort named Sebastien has posted the episode of "the Remarkable Fidgety River", where big square blocks of the sea have gone missing and the river has retreated to a cave in mortal fear, until Snuggles comes to the rescue. Written by one Douglas Adams. DOUGLAS ADAMS!!!
Sweet Toenails of Tartarus. Could there be any greater thing to have graced our boob tubes, EVER???

all hail tiny gems.

Came upon this during the course of my editorial-y duties on Friday:

"He moved at a speed that allowed him to replace loss.”
MO

Truly Wonderful.

31 January 2007

a long forgotten gift.

I, along with my good friend and excellent comic-book artist/partner in crime Willow Dawson will be teaching a book-making workshop affiliated with AGYU starting in two weeks time. In an attempt to gather some samples to show students, I asked my mum if she could lend me some of the sundry gifts I'd made her over the years, of a bookish nature. She brought some unexpected treasures, that I'd completely forgotten I'd made. These excerpts are from a scrapbook on the revered nature of journaling that I made her in 2000, complete with fragments of stories I wrote when I was 8 (including the infamous "The Adventures of Super Pickle" and "The Hair Grower"), as well as my very first report card at the age of 6. I was particularly enamored, in a navel-gazely kind of a way, with this latter document, which (of course) begins: "Stefanie is a very verbal child...."
(click on pages to see them in full detail)




Licensed at Last!

I have AT LAST, well, yesterday, received my official motorcycle M2 license in the mail, a mere days before I would have had to troop out and get another temporary one. I look, suitably I suppose, and not surprising at all, like a terribly overweight jail convict. Upon examining the contents of the envelope, I also found the following, which I sincerely hope they send to all new drivers, and not just those getting motorcycle licenses.

(Click on pic for detailed view of the Ministry of Transportation's benevolent campaign)

the UCCS; a most civilized event of a Saturday eve.

I haven't the witty wherewithal to post fully on this, for the moment, but I had the privilege of joining (via my pseudo-caricature Pippa Ellsworth Marigold, Esquirée) a Upper Canada Chap Society party celebrating the return of their founder, one Ozcar Wildeflower III, on Saturday night. Held at the Library bar at the Royal York Hotel, the revelry was over 23 personages strong, all of them decked out in full regalia, indulging in G &T's, Pimms, and, ahem...plenty of cucumbers.
Check out correspondence leading to the event as well as the event itself here. Alas, there are no photos of my costumed self, due to the fact that I was behind my camera, but I'm hoping fervently that some other members will post their own photos of the event in the near future. We shall see.
I will say though, that it is one of the first times in an AGE that I walked into a room full of strangers and was able to hold my own (COMFORTABLY) in a conversation, with nary a concern over my ignorance of the latest on television, newspaper or tabloid. Bliss and Glee!

29 January 2007

yeah, swell.

So.
To any of my reader(s) who got spammed not once, but THREE times today, my Profuse apologies.
I still don't know how/what happened (trying to work it out right now) but, despite running test messages in all three instances, somehow the emails got sent out with only my subscribe/unsubscribe details in them. And though I am quite soliticious when it comes to whether or not people actually want to be on my list, I really don't need it reaffirmed three times, nor do I think people want to reaffirm it.

Anyhow.
My original intention, after a long arduous think about it, was to forward a message that got forwarded to me.
Yes, one of those. That we all already get too many of, that put me through ethical trauma everytime I get them, 'coz I really would rather use my list for what it was originally intended, namely, to let people know what I'm up to, that they might come say hi, buy a book, pat my shoulder if they feel so inclined. I don't know that I feel alright carpet bombing people (a great many of whom i barely know) with my politics.

But here it is below, then, Goddammit, if only to end the ruddy thing.

(And yes, I hereby guarantee that I will no longer forward messages of ANY sort to my mailing list. Senders be warned. I love you, I care about this stuff, but I'm officially traumatized about the whole forwarding messages fiasco.)

Please pass this around. It's a French initiative that is just arriving in North America: The 1st of February 2007. Participate in the biggest mobilization of Citizens Against Global Warming! The Alliance for the Planet [a group of environmental associations] is calling on all citizens to create 5 minutes of electrical rest for the planet. http://www.lalliance.fr

People all over the world should turn off their lights and electrical appliances on the first of February 2007, between 1:55 pm and 2:00 pm in New York, 18:55 for London, and 19:55 for Paris, Bruxelles, and Italy. 1:55pm in Ottawa, 10.:55am on the Pacific Coast of North America. This is not just about saving 5 minutes worth of electricity; this is about getting the attention of the media, politicians, and ourselves. Five minutes of electrical down time for the planet: this does not take long, and costs nothing, and will show all political leaders that global warming is an issue that needs to come first and foremost in political debate. Why February 1? This is the day when the new UN report on global climate change will come out in Paris. This event affects us all, involves us all, and provides an occasion to show how important an issue global warming is to us. If we all participate, this action can have real media and political weight. Please circulate this call to your utmost ability to your network.