Wednesday, May 30, 2007

On concerts

When we moved to Victoria, Jillian thought I wouldn't be able to hack it. She thought I would go through concert withdrawal. I think her aversion to concerts (which I totally understand, by the way) warped her perception of me and my live music habits. That said, I do love a good show, and I've enjoyed a recent concert fix: we attended the Sasquatch Music Festival last weekend.

Normally I'm not a fan of big concerts, but the line-up for this festival made me sweat. Manu Chao! Bjork! The Arcade Fire! Sarah Silverman (not a band, but whatever)!

The Arcade Fire were my favourite. I sang out loud. Michael too. I danced silly and felt like a super star; it reminded me of that first Hidden Cameras concert I went to with Ananda. I liked The Arcade Fire before, but I didn't love them. Now I love.

Bjork was a powerful yellow starfish on a giant stage. Was it a rave? Maybe. I'm ok with that.

Manu Chao is a punk band, apparently. I didn't know. I was sad when I recognized lyrics to favourite songs: they didn't fit with my memory. Lots of people seemed to like the show though, and it was satisfying to see the team in person.

Sarah Silverman? What happened? You appeared once with a lame joke: you pretended (?) to forget the name of the band you were supposed to introduce; you read Manu Chau off your hand in an exaggerated fashion; you skipped off the stage and never came back. Pitchfork reports you may have been sick. Boo!

Other goodness included catching the last song by Patrick Wolf and keeping warm with the Spoon fans.

During the road trip part of the weekend, there was a lot of talk about favourite concerts (MIA/LCD Soundsystem, Hidden Cameras, Belle & Sebastian/Jonathan Richman) and bands we hope to see one day (Camera Obscura, The Shins, Animal Collective). Combined with the thrill of seeing a good show, those conversations made me thirsty for more! I don't want to move back to Vancouver, but I do hope I make enough money to skip over for shows more often. I don't want to miss Camera Obscura next time around.

Check out the Flickr for photos by Nick.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Down with the old canoe

Sometimes I'm sad that Hollywood took over some of my childhood passions. The Lord of the Rings can't be mentioned without images of Orlando Bloom and Liv Tyler coming to mind. Similarly, the Titanic can't be referenced without acknowledging the 1997 mammoth blockbuster that starred Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet. Although I love Winslet and I'm partial to DiCaprio, I did not like that movie. I didn't like it because it was based on a fictional love story when fiction wasn't necessary. There was plenty of real heart-break to communicate. Also, that song by Celine Dion sucked.

My interest in the Titanic started in grade 8 when we had to read A Night to Remember, and the research hobby spiraled from there. After political science, I've probably read more about the Titanic than any other subject (although don't ask me to regurgitate any details, since this all took place years ago). My grandma also had an interest in the Titanic, and maintained that Down with the Old Canoe was the best book on the subject.I tried reading it when I was younger, but was turned off by the academic tone. It may be time to give it another try.

Last fall CBC Radio advertised the Titanic exhibit that was coming to the Royal BC Museum, and I called my grandma to share the news of our good fortune, without realizing that the exhibit wouldn't be coming until April. Once we found out, we were still excited about it, of course, and had tentative plans to go together.

As many of you know, my grandma passed away in February.

Michael brought me to the exhibit as an early birthday present, and I'm happy to report that it wasn't that good, and I know my grandma would have agreed. I was disappointed by the focus on the remnants from the wreck site. It was mildly interesting to see a plate from the first-class china set; it was specially-made for the Titanic and didn't even make it through one voyage, yet it survived on the bottom of the sea floor for decades; but while the surviving plate may bring to mind the class themes that dominate the Titanic story, it doesn't capture the main draw of the Titanic story: it was a perfect tragedy. Dozens of events lined up to create such a devastating outcome: the crew that was looking for icebergs didn't have binoculars; if the Titanic had hit the berg head on, instead of turning at the last moment, it wouldn't have sunk: if there were enough life boats, no one would have died: if the nearby ship hadn't assumed the emergency flairs were fire works, it would have been able to save hundreds of people. Those are the bits that people want to hear about.

There was one aspect of the exhibit that I did like, even though I found it a bit morbid. When we went in, Michael and I were given male and female boarding passes. They had information about who we were traveling with, our circumstances of travel and what we did for a living. At the end of the exhibit we were able to check lists of the saved and the lost to see if we made it. It was an effective way to illustrate the personal level of tragedy that resulted when the ship when down.

Michael's pass was for Richard George Hocking. He died, but his family all survived. Mine was for Charlotte Annie Tate. I survived with my baby, but my husband died. See what I mean? Fictional stories are not necessary.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Happy Mother's Day, Mom!

I don't have a ton of pictures of me and my mom together, but those of you who know her aren't surprised: she's usually the one behind the camera. This one was taken last summer on Saltspring Island, and although I love it, I now have tentative plans to acquire some additional photos of the two of us. Perhaps when I visit Saskatchewan in June. It won't be mother's day, but it will have to do. The point is, my mom loves photos. Michael and I were taking pictures on my birthday last week, and after he took the photo of me and the cupcakes (which he made!) he said, "There, your mom will be happy with that." Some of the pictures are posted on Flickr; in fact, I started the Flickr account to satisfy her craving for pictures of our trip to Mexico. When you live so far apart it is a nice way to connect, which is why I'm going to try and convince her to set up her own account. Again, a tentative plan for June. I'm not the best computer teacher, but maybe we can do it if we have a few glasses of wine first. Even if I don't succeed it'll be a fun belated Mother's Day gift. What do you say, Mom?

Monday, May 07, 2007

Popcorn clusters

Michael wanted to make popcorn balls last week. His mom used to make them, so we embraced the nostalgic craving and started looking for options. In the end we asked the Internet what we should do, and it told us to make this gingerbread caramel corn recipe. Not a popcorn ball per se, but it does harden into clusters of popcorn, and that's close enough for me.

There is a lot of sweetness in this recipe, but at least we used organic light corn syrup and organic molasses. That means it's actually healthy.

You've all made caramel before. This is exactly the same except you add baking soda at the end, which makes it foamy. I wonder why this ingredient is necessary?

And at least there's no gluten in the recipe. My wheat-free friends and family can enjoy this snack!

One way to curb the sweetness is to limit the coating on the popcorn.

This recipe makes you bake the final mix for an hour, which seems a bit long, but makes the final product extra crunchy. I enjoyed my serving with Michael and Sarah H, an episode of The Office and a glass of milk to cut the sweetness.