Tuesday, May 30, 2006

I Don't Speak Russian

I will be adding "Getting a Russian Visa" to the list of Things I Never Want To Do Again. (Also on this list are "Snowshoeing", "Drinking Jagermeister", and "Hitchhiking in the Rocky Mountains".)

My first trip to the Russian embassy resulted in slight panic as a crowded room full of angry Russians was just a little disconcerting and they kept calling out numbers in Russian. I don't speak Russian. So I just guessed when it was my turn to face the Russian official who I had just watched turn away several people with the exact same forms I was clutching with a fierce "Nyet!" After an hour in this mayhem I was lucky enough to hear, "Okay. I give you visa today." Except that I didn't actually get my visa that day.

Then the TTC was partly to blame for my frustration. My receipt said to pick up the visa from the embassy between 4-5pm yesterday. No subway? No problem. Except that it was 42°C on the day the TTC workers decided they didn't feel like working. I walked 40 minutes there in the 42°C heat only to find the embassy closed and had to walk 40 minutes back. Today you cannot see my feet from the blisters on them (usually on the first sandal day of the summer season I am not trekking in swamp-like conditions). So I return to the embassy today and wait in an unairconditioned room (44°C this afternoon) for an hour and a half and finally got my visa. Doesn't it look all scary and official and Russian?

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Letterman Takes Down Cheney

You may know that I love David Letterman. Well, I love him even more after his interview with Mary Cheney last week. He grilled this pathetic hyprocrite who is trying to push a book you shouldn't buy. You can watch the interview here.

Cheney's answer to everything was "I talk about that in my book." My response would have been, "We're not buying your book, bitch." But Dave's much better response was, "Maybe that's the point. Maybe, I'm wondering if people would rather you had talked about it during the campaign as opposed to after the campaigns waiting to put it in a book. Would it have been more effective to talk about it then?"

D'ya think?

Monday, May 22, 2006

A Laughing Matter

You know that commercial for Westjet's live satellite tv where everyone on board is laughing at a certain show and there's the one guy who can't find it, so the flight attendant slips him the channel number on a napkin, and all is fun and well in Westjet land?

Well, today I'm flying Westjet back to Toronto and that actual commercial comes on my individual tv screen as I'm watching Days Of Our Lives (soap opera on airplane = whole new level of boredom). I find this funny and chuckle aloud and look around to share the joke with any other Westjetters watching the same channel. But no one laughs along with me - all I receive is a swift kick to the back of my very small seat.

Yet you people laughed at the joke told by the flight attendant that ended with the punch line: "You can't have your kayak and eat it too."

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Bathroom Artwork

John has a new piece of work up on his comics website Machine Gum. John writes that the finished, watercoloured version "has been hanging lovingly in a friend's washroom for the past few years."

I admit it - it's my bathroom. But it fits perfectly on the size of the wall and it is very lovingly hung. One of the best birthday gifts I have ever received. And a John Martz original circa 2002? It's going to make me a lot of money one day people.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Heading West

I'm heading out to the West Coast on Thursday for ten days of what I hope will be a relaxing, creative break. My thesis is being left behind in Toronto and my knapsack will be carrying only some clothes, a couple of books, my journal, my camera, my ipod, and my laptop. C'est tout. That person sauntering through the airport terminal and bypassing the luggage hall, probably sipping a latte and still engrossed in her book - that will be me.

For the plane, I'll be catching up on my podcast listening and have also downloaded a couple of cool lectures from the Stanford podcast site. Not to mention the first season of Grey's Anatomy that's sitting on my computer waiting to be watched.

Because I hope to be writing as much as possible, I'm not bringing any fiction to read for this trip. Instead, I have some poetry and some non-fiction to take down to the beach with me. Airstream Land Yacht by Ken Babstock and The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion. The poetry because I've been saving Ken's new collection for a time when I can really take it in and the Didion because it sits only a quarter read on my bookshelf in Victoria. I think I was too close to my own grief to read about Didion's over my Christmas holiday, but now I'm looking forward to the book.

And I'm sure there will be many photographs of the ocean and the garden wildlife taken...and posted here.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

The London Update

My whirlwind five day trip to London was wonderful and I find it amazing how visiting such a vibrant city can make me feel so vibrant. (Minus the jet lag, of course.) Apart from visiting with friends, which is always a treat, highlights were the one play and one art exhibit I managed to squeeze into all my socializing.

Embers, the Christopher Hampton adaptation of Sandor Marai's novel was an enjoyable play, but what made it so engaging was Jeremy Iron's tour de force performance - wow. Even though it was ostensibly a two character play, it was actually a two hour monologue by Irons - and a brilliant one at that.

At the Victoria & Albert Museum is a small exhibit of ten new paintings by Frank Auerbach and Lucian Freud. This is not only the first time these paintings have been shown, but the first time these two artists have been exhibited together. And the point of the exhibit was not to display the affinities between the two but, I suppose, to demonstrate their importance in the realm of British painting as they hang in the same gallery as the rest of the museum's Turners and Constables. The curator of the exhibit explains the exhibition in greater detail.

Just six more weeks until I'm back in London when it will be time for the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition!

Thursday, May 04, 2006

My Computer Has Jet Lag

You'd think I wasn't in the UK long enough to suffer from jet lag upon my return. But alas, I was up at 5am this morning. I took this opportunity to venture down to the cafe on Front Street that makes amazing (and very popular) carrot muffins before they all disappeared. 7:30am and they were all gone - who is going to work this early? Who is snapping up all of the carrot muffins at such an early hour?

It appears that my computer is also suffering from jet lag, because when I turned it on this morning, it will only access about 20% of the web pages I'm trying to get onto. I tried all the not-so-helpful tips provided by Mac forums and still nothing. So my London update will have to wait until either my computer adjusts its body clock, or someone can fix the problem.