Monthly Archives: July 2009

An Open Letter to Toronto Bike Thieves

Dear Asshat,

This is the fourth time within the span of a year you have felt the need to fuck shit up.

Please cease and desist.

Last winter, you felt the need to remove my bike entirely. It was a shitty bike. You could not see the blue for all the rust. It was at least ten years old, but looked significantly older, and not in a cool vintage way. The gears didn’t work. The breaks didn’t work. The seat was most uncomfortable. It was the Courtney Love of bikes. The lock you broke to steal my bike was worth more than my bike. It did, however, have a an exquisite hippo bell.

Come spring I splurged and bought myself a new bike. It is by no means a “good bike”. It rolls, stops, changes gears and looks real pretty, but is vapid and fatuous. Riding it is like riding an elephant: Super-cool looking, but more work than other options.

By May, dear Asshat, you found the time to appropriate my rear light into your pocket. What you will do with that light I do not know. It doesn’t clip anywhere but the holder on my bike. Perhaps someone stole your light, and you are out for revenge? Perhaps you just like to hold it close and watch its pulsing red beams. Does it sooth you into sleep? Does it remind you of the flash of the police car lights that have no doubt picked you up in the past? I hope it does. I hope the warm red glow brings you saccharine dreams of honeysuckles and dulcimers.

Last week, I left my poor bike unused, locked on the street. I felt bad, but I could not ride due to a meeting my knee had with the pavement last Saturday. Every morning I’d walk by, giving my bike a reassuring pat on the seat, or straighten him up when he fell a little lopsided. But one evening on my way home, Asshat, my friend, you had left your mark. This time it looks as though you did a terrible parking job, swiping my bike and dragging it with your car. Alas! My Kyptonite lock! What will give first? Your car? My bike? The pole? My lock? I will never know, but I do know this: I parked facing north, with my chain in tact and my bike unscathed. Unfortunately upon my return from work, my bike was facing south, chain dangled limply on the sidewalk like the arm of a dead baby, and the entire right side of my bike scratched to shreds, similar to what I imagine Brad Pitt’s back to look like after a rough and ready tumble with Angie. Except, unlike Brad (or maybe exactly like Brad), my bike is less sexy now. Thanks Asshat. Nobody likes a prom queen with scars.

And now, when I think I’m in the clear, you strike again, Asshat. This morning I leave my apartment, and there my bike sits: Raped, naked, ashamed. You have gone too far this time. You have despoiled my bike by removing its seat. Its beautiful, cushy, saddle. The saddle that would bounce me like a kitten when I rolled over potholes and speed bumps. The Lazyboy of saddles. That saddle made my ass feel like the Princess when the jackass Prince finally removed the pea. That saddle, oh that saddle! Why did you take my saddle? Was it for your girlfriend? It has embroidered flowers on it, so I’d think it was a little too feminine for your macho charms. She’ll like it. It’s a great seat. Maybe she’ll finally ask you to move in with her, and out of your mommy’s basement. Now you can lay on your girlfriend’s couch all day playing Grand Theft Auto, wiping your orange stained cheesey fingers on her carpet, spilling Labatt 50 down your greasy undershirt. Days go by, you on the couch, your too-good-for-you girlfriend riding her shitty bike, with brand new cushy seat, to work so she can pay your bills. Until one day, you let her dog eat the chocolate McCain cake you pulled out of the freezer. The poor dog won’t stop barfing, and you’re too drunk to care. You just throw tea towels and t-shirts over the rancid vomit, and call your girlfriend. She speeds home, ass exceptionally comfortable despite her anxious mood, and finds you on the couch, beer in hand, piles of vomit surrounding her cherished dog, and a half eaten McCain cake that clearly has never seen a  fork or knife. She screams at you, throws the cake at your head, picks up her dog and takes the shivering, shaking pile of fur to the vet. You “man the fort”. She returns home without the dog, and finally, months too late, throws you and all your shit out in a fit of rage, tears streaming down her ashen cheeks.

So, you know what Asshat? I’m glad you stole my bike seat. Your girlfriend deserves it.

But in the future, stay the fuck away from my bike.

Faithfully yours,

maggie

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Sick, Sick, Sick

Finally, after a week of hanging around with my coughing, hoarking friend Emily, I caught her cold. That, or the Gods of Swine Flu did not like me mocking their fancy new virus. So, I’m taking a sick day.

Normally I drag myself into work, sneeze and snivel all over my keyboard, and then wince my way home again. Wash, rinse, repeat. Around day three my boss, eyes creased with disgust, sends me home. So far my new tactic, not going to work the day I get sick, is working out rather well.

I slept in, read my national geographic, I even made a trip to Steven’s Variety for gingerale. Now I’m watching the awesomeness that is daytime television!

It’s fat people day on Oprah. Kristie Alley was on, lamenting her weight gain in an hilarious fashion. Oprah asked her about all her fitness equipment that she kept in her living/dining room. And Kristie retorted with how she turned it into a dining room, cos you know, she hasn’t had enough dinner parties. Oh Kristie! Now there’s this guy on who weighed 1100 pounds. The side of his house had to be removed and he was lifted out with a forklift and delivered to a hospital.

I would like that to NOT happen to me.

And now Dr. Phil is on. He’s teaching wayward teens that error of their ways by introducing them to death row murderers at San Quenton. Fabulous!

Tonight, I plan on lying in bed with my laptop, watching the Film Noir films I rented from Queen Video.

Best sick day ever. I’m feeling better already!

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Places I’ve Been Part Two: Belgium, neuken in de keuken!

Ah Belgium, my sweet love.
A girl’s dreams come true.

Everyone always seems forget about Belgium, maybe because it’s so small, maybe because France and Germany get all the action, who knows! But I remembered Belgium. Land of chocolate, land of beer, land of diamonds. Three excellent reasons to get up off the couch and book your tickets immediately to my favourite Flemish country.

Brussles
I arrived in Brussels by train, via Paris, on a chilly autumn eve, checked into the hostel, and immediately made friends with a cute English boy on his gap year. We had one goal: try as many Belgian beers as possible. We succeeded. Like good little tourists, we found a bar in the Grand Place, and ordered beer after beer:

Kwak, Judas, Palm, Morte Subite (Kreik and Frambois), Floris Ninkenberry, Timmerman’s, Bellvue, Hummel Bier, Kaiser, Delerium Tremens, Juliper, Westmalle, Hoegarden, Leffe (dark and blonde), Chouffe, Molleke… to name a few!

The Grand Place is a large market square surrounded by beautiful old gilded buildings. Some of these buildings were once guild halls, but now they are all privately owned, or museums, or fancy bars and restaurants and shops. Like every European town square, the marketplace is seeped with history, and political upheavals ending in defenestration. I spent most of my time wandering aimlessly around Brussels, waffle in hand, taking in the stunning architecture, the occasional hilarious tourist stop (Manneken Pis – a fountain shaped as a little boy peeing, that is often dresses up in various hilarious outfits), and hitting up the more notable chocolate shops (Neuhaus, Leonidas, Mary’s and Marcolini). I came home with 2.5kg of Belgian chocolates. I shared none. I am not ashamed. At all.

Bruges
It’s like a fairy tale! A winding canal, cobblestones, beautiful buildings, sprawling cafes, more waffles and beer, boob shaped chocolate. Very romantic.

My favourite part of Bruges was the lovely and peaceful Begijnhof. A Begijnhof was a  religious movement of sorts, physically manifested as a square of pretty whitewashed cottages, and a garden filled with poplar trees. They sprung up as mini-villiages, to separate themselves as distinct from the current form of Christianity. They were (and still are) inhabited by nuns, but not of the traditional variety. These nuns would make the vows of obedience and chastity, but not of poverty, and they were allowed to get up and leave, breaking their vows, whenever they pleased. They’re my kind of nuns.

Ghent

It had a castle, and I do love me my castles! I also met a nice Quebec girl. She was an au pair for some family in Germany and on her holidays. She was very nice, but had a weird musty smell to her. It was probably the oversized Himalayan knit sweater she wore. We both befriended two Flemish kids who were in Ghent for the Ghent Film Fest. I didn’t like Ghent much, but mostly cos I was shouted at by some nun for taking photos in a church, which I wasn’t. But she didn’t believe me and said God would punish me for my crimes. And I was all, “Look lady! God’s omniscient right? So God KNOWS it wasn’t me so quit being a jerk!”

Except that last part only happened in my mind. Instead I sheepishly left the church, further incriminating myself, because everyone was looking at me like I was the spawn of Satan.

Antwerp
Oh Antwerp! So much fun. My favourite Belgian city by leaps and bounds! It has a beautiful giant cathedral, the best hot chocolate I’ve ever had, and the most amazing hostel I’ve ever stayed in.

The hostel was called Den Heksenketel which is the Flemish for “The Witch’s Cauldron”. And as we all know, I do love my witch kitsch. The hostel shares the same building as a folk bar with quite the beer selection, and is run by an affable elder man named Raf. Raf is the personification of all the gypsy lore I’ve ever read or imagined. His face is etched with wisdom and stories, he has a magical air about him, he played Leonard Cohen records and was having a saucy love affair with a bicurious, blonde fashionista.

At the hostel I met my four new BFFs, Dylan and Liz from Australia, Wesley from Belgium and Susanne from The Netherlands. Wesley and Susanne had been living at the hostel for several weeks by the time Dylan, Liz and I arrived. We all instantly bonded over several cheap beers and the film 300. The next night the five of us, Raf, his blonde, and a few others sat at the large table enjoying the vast beer selection of the bar. Raf kindly bought Liz and I a few beers. We ended up playing some “traditional Belgian” game of pass-the-mint-using-your-mouth to the person next to you… What?

The next night Susanne’s excessively good looking ex, Florian, stopped by the hostel for Liz and I to ogle, but he refused to take a trip to Antwerp’s rather depressing red light district. Wesley and I were somehow separated from Liz, Susanne and Dylan, so he showed me around town that night. We searched for the infamous bicky burger, but I when we found one, I didn’t quite like the looks of it. It also happened to be the Belgian equivalent of rush week, so we ran into several students covered in pig’s blood and beer. We returned to the hostel quite late. Brimming with drunken PG13 sexual tension, we stumbled up the spiral staircase/death trap to our rooms. I was leaving the next morning for Amsterdam, with Liz and Dylan, so Wesley took this final opportunity to kiss me goodnight, but not before grabbing me round the waist and whispering in my ear: “This is how we say goodnight in Belgium” .

Not gonna lie, definitely one of the better lines I’ve had the pleasure of receiving.

Oh Belgium. Such good times.

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It was twenty years ago today…

Last night in the theatre, while waiting for Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince to start, my friends and I were discussing The Beatles and our favourite songs. Sharing facts and legends we’ve learned throughout our lives. This conversation started because it turns out that Cat’s boyfriend doesn’t like The Beatles (wtf, I know). So she’s making up a mix tape of sorts with her 10 favourite Beatles songs and a little story to go with each of them to learn him up real good. This is a grand idea.

So today, after calling my Dad and shotgunning his complete Beatles vinyl collection (and CD, just in case), I have set off to do just that. Pick 10 Beatles songs I love, and explain why. I’m having trouble already, so far I have 27 short-listed. And that took a lot of work. I just love too much, I guess.

So, instead, today I’m just going to focus on my favourite Beatles album.

As a result of a vaguely recent refresher crash course in music appreciation, I remembered that creating a good album is a work of art. There is a distinct difference between a good album and a collection of good songs that happen to be on an album.  And in this day of playlists, shuffles and singles, I often forget that I am quite fond of (understatement of the year) listening to an album in full, and appreciating its intricate beauty (it’s ok, I’m gagging a little too), and unconsciously memorising how one song melds seamlessly into another. A good album not only has great songs, but tells a story, that flows, and it’s a story you can and want to listen to over and over again. Each song builds on its predecessor and compliments its successor. And with this in mind The Beatles, as it happens, have released one of my favourite albums of all time:

Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band – 1967


Anyone who knows me, and this album, would nod their head knowingly when I say this album is one of my favourites. I was introduced to this album when I was 5 or 6 years old. Old enough to have figured out how to get at it, pop it into my Dad’s CD player (I wasn’t allowed near the vinyl, and with good reason) and press GO; but young enough that there are orange juice spills, peanut butter and porridge plastered into the cracked case and liner notes. I discovered this album purely due to the cover art. The colourful outfits and plethora of people adorning the front of the CD had me hypnotised as a child, and holy shit, did I go off the deep end when I learned there were more brightly coloured pages inside! My head must have exploded with happiness with each turn! And to think I couldn’t even read yet.

Of course the artwork for that album deserves a whole discussion of its own, as it’s probably one of the greatest, most famous and parodied pieces of album cover art ever. So off you go, read up on wikipedia and we can discuss the OPP shout out and the “Paul is dead hoax” later!

But for now I will reminisce sitting on my Dad’s zebra chair, listening to that album so often, while flipping through the CD booklet in time with the songs, that even he tired of it and would plug in a pair of headphones and plonk them on my head. Unfortunately for my family the headphones did not block out the sound of me singing along at the top of my little lungs to Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds. I would just sit there all day listening, occasionally getting up to bop around to When I’m Sixty-Four. Sometimes my Dad was so tired of hearing it he would hide it on me. Understandable really.

As with the album art, you can go ahead wikipedia or allmusic exactly why this album is amazing, there is no need for me to go into the technicalities as to why this album is one of the greatest ever. I could wax lyrical all day about the concept, the flow of the songs, the imagery, the framing, the experimentation, the writing,  the future influences, and the musical doors it opened. But the main reason why I think it’s truly amazing is purely sentimental: It reminds me of being a kid, and just enjoying things without thinking too deeply about them. Looking at pretty colours and listening to melodic sounds. And each time I listen to Sgt. Pepper, it just gets better and better.

Now, don’t even get me started on how spectacular an album Abbey Road is…

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Harry Potter and the… uh Philosophy Student?

In honour of the 5th Harry Potter film, Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince, (which I will be seeing tonight at 12:01!!!) I’m prepared to make another confession: A lot of my big decisions in life have been based on Harry Potter. You may think, “Pfft how is that even possible?”

Oh, it is my friends. And here is how:

Big Decision #1: British Boarding School? YES PLEASE!

It was the 1999/2000 school year (so the first two Harry Potters had been published, the third was on its way) and I was stuck in grade 10 at The Linden School, a terrible (for reasons which I won’t get into now) all-girls “women-centred” school in a Toronto alley. By November 1999 I rarely went into school, and did most of my school work at home, showing up to hand things in, or write exams, if I had to. If I was in school, I would be hiding out in the dark room, or crying under desks. You know how it is.

In spite of this anti academic behaviour I still managed to do fairly well (80-something percent average). I knew I just had to stick out the school year and I would be far far away, probably at North Toronto Collegiate Institute, taking exciting subjects like Spanish, Latin and Urban Geography. I could smell my locker already!

Sometime in January my Dad received a letter from his old boarding school. It was celebrating its 400th birthday! He was invited to get down and boogie in style with his old school friends and the Queen of England’s sister! Unfortunately he couldn’t make it, but he and my Mother came up with the bright idea that maybe, just maybe, I’d want to go and finish up high school at this English boarding school. I remember standing in the front hallway on my way to school (probably around noonish…) and both my parents turned to me and said “We have a serious question for you, Maggie. What do you think about going to Aldenham? Your father’s old boarding school in England?” I literally blinked twice and with thoughts of Dumbledore in my head I said “YES!!!”. They both looked at me, faces tinged with horrified surprise, before making me promise I’d “actually think about it for a day or so”.

So all day I hung out with my friends discussing how I was going to be JUST LIKE HARRY POTTER, except sadly without the magic and cloaks and stuff. Then I got home and called all my friends, and discussed how awesome Hogwarts, I mean Aldenham was going to be.

I applied, and having a father and grand-father precede me as students, I was accepted with open arms and a 50% bursary! After finishing up exams in June at Linden, my parents and I trudged off to England to visit the school, just to be 100% sure I wanted to go. I met the headmaster, my house master and some fellow pupils. I was set!

And come September 2000 I begun my A-Levels at a boarding school just outside of London, England. It was everything I wanted it to be, and then some!

Big Decision #2: UBC vs University of Durham

In my final year of NEWTS, I mean, A-Levels, I applied to McGill, University of Toronto and UBC. Easy.

But when applying for universities in the UK, I had absolutley no idea which were good or bad. I applied for Reading cos it sounded funny. Oxford Brooks cos I figured if I failed EVERYTHING I’d still get in. Exeter because it was on the coast. Bristol because it sounded fancy (which it was).

It was entirely by luck I applied for Durham, and even luckier that when I went up for their “open weekend”, Harry Potter was being filmed there on location. My fate was sealed the moment I saw Ron, Harry and Harmione, fully cloaked and wanded, trundle around the Castle and Cathedral grounds. My thought process went as follows: “I can LIVE in a castle?!?! A CASTLE THAT HARRY POTTER WAS FILMED IN!?!?! Sign me up!” So I applied for Philosophy and Politics, pulled the marks and went. Luckily Durham is an excellent university, though notably known alongside Bristol and St Andrews as full of Oxford and Cambridge rejects.

Now I can say: “Yeah that’s right, the courtyard and entrance to Dumbledore’s office is where I went to university”.

Way better than: “Yeah I have a BA Honours in Philosophy and Politics”.

Big Decision #3: I dated Harry Potter, for serious.

Well not really, but I swear to you he looks just like him, though more from my imagination inspired from the book, than a Daniel Radcliff look-a-like. But seriously, you look at him, you think “where’s the scar”? I can’t say I dated him for those two years because he looked like Harry Potter, but it certainly added to his charm.

Those are my three rather big life changing decisions that I made pretty much entirely based on my love for the Harry Potter stories. Judge me as you will, just know that it worked out incredibly well.

Harry Potter FTW.

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Lazy Sunbathers: nxne round-up, two weeks too late!

So, I was gonna do a snappy round up of all the awesome and craptastic bands I saw throughout NXNE, but I went on holiday instead. This round up is coming a wee bit late. But good bands were seen, and in the two weeks I didn’t write this I did actually manage to get some semblance of a tan, so yeah.

Also, just so alls y’all know, NXNE by bicycle is the best way to go my friends. My timing has never been more perfect. I managed to arrive seconds before each band’s first song. Usually I hit the festival  on foot, and I’m lucky if I get to the next venue in time for the third song. So bike people, it’s good times. You may even be lucky enough for some drunk dude to stumble out of the Brunnie and say “That’s a nice bike baby, but you look more fun to ride!” Grand.

My NXNE Schedule went a little something like this.

Thursday:

Arizona @ the Boat

They were fun. They had some good stage banter, and big curly dude-hair. The songs weren’t particularily memorable, but I stayed for their entire set.

The Details @ The Riv

They were really good. From Winnipeg, and you could hear that Weakerthans twang in them.

Kittens Ablaze @ The Riv

Thursday’s highlite for sure. I liked them! They’re from New York and include a saucy little cellist! So I bought their cd. I will also be marrying their guitarist.

Les Handclaps @ The Boat

French and funny. What they lacked in musicality they made up for in pure dance dance enthusiasm.

Friday:

Nothing of note. I didn’t get in to see the band I wanted to (Matt and Kim). So it went downhill from there. Though I did meet up with some friends at the Rivoli, the bands playing there made me die inside a little bit. Lamesauce.

Saturday:

BEST NIGHT by far! I dragged my friend and ex-roomie Dave out, and every band we saw was awesome!

Will Currie and the Country French @ The Reverb

Super fun! That band has many people in it. Including the token girl, who didn’t really do so much. And I am a little in love with their drummer, my new husband (I just think he’s cute as a button!). Dave bought their album, and in true music publisher fashion, I stole it and ripped it on to my ipod, then returned it. Good stuff.

By Divine Right @ Whippersnapper

Who doesn’t wanna be back in the 90’s?!?!? Exactly!

C’mon @ Lee’s

C’mon was the best hands down. They rocked so hard, my face actually melted right off. Seriously it is still in a sticky puddle on the floor of Lee’s Palace. Dude looked like ZZ Top, the bassist was his hot wife, and the drummer was relentless. Amazing. Seriously. Best Show EVER.

Hot Panda @ The Horseshoe

I saw Hot panda 2 years ago at Sneaky Dee’s, and they kinda sucked. They looked and sounded like spotty little kids. But having said that, they have improved quite substantially over those two years, and sound good these days. Yay x 100 for them!

The Lovely Feathers @ The Horseshoe

I was mostly distracted by my unquenching desire for ice cream. So I don’t really rememebr much. Also, Dave and I were hella tired, so we headed home, well to Dominion for some 3am grocery shopping. Toilet paper, toothpaste, Rainbow Chip cookies: the grocery list of champions!

And thus ended what I can piece together of NXNE.

A good time was had by all!

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