Monday, July 30, 2012

The Confectionery - 10

These are the things that I think are great.  So great that I want to sing about them.

I am a sucker for The Olympics, including the Opening Ceremonies.  Any large production that begins with various a capella children's choirs is pretty much tailor-made for me.  Here are 3 of my favourite memes that popped up after the Opening Ceremonies had aired.

For photos with hilarious captions, check out this Macleans article written by Scott Feschuk, author of the Canadian 50 Shades of Eh.  Follow him on twitter for the best Olympics commentary I've seen yet: @scottfeschuk.

While we're on the Opening Ceremony, let's talk a moment about the highlight, shall we?  While I absolutely love that there was a children's literature section (& I had no idea that a hospital was completely funded by the proceeds from Peter Pan, did you?), I found it difficult to swallow.  Spoonful of sugar or not, Voldemort would have SMOKED Mary Poppins in a battle.  The real highlight of the ceremony was Rowan Atkinson's appearance.  When they announced an orchestral performance of Chariots of Fire, I was ready to start crying for the 23rd time since the ceremonies began.  How wrong I was.  

The video isn't on YouTube - we all know how strict the IOC is about these things, but for the time being, you can watch it here.  My son has watched it numerous times now, & spent his Saturday morning watching Mr. Bean clips on YouTube.  Judging by my twitter feed, my son was not the only child enchanted by his performance.  It seems Rowan Atkinson has just gained an entire generation of new fans.


Remember how cool those virtual screens in Minority Report looked?  Tom Cruise could flip, rotate, enlarge, cleanse thetans*, zoom in, discard, & do basically anything with a few flicks of his wrist.  A company called Leap Motion has brought us one step closer to being able to do that. 

To read more, & see an in-depth demonstration by CTO David Holz, go here.
*thetan cleansing only available to Scientologists.

THE most bizarre gift I received for my Birthday this year was this drawing, commissioned by my brother & his wife:

Apparently, they saw this guy's video, & thought "Random internet cat drawing?  That is so Lisa."  They know me so well - they also got me this awesome octopus mug.  It was a strange birthday. 

You can order a cat drawing & look at Steve's gallery here.
While I love the weirdness & randomness of my Game of Thrones cat, specially commissioned just for me, I honestly cannot believe this guy has drawn (as of now) 7545 cat pictures at $10 each.  He has made $75,450.  From cat drawings.  I applaud his entrepreneurial spirit (Mark Cuban is an investor in this!) & I love my silly Game of Thrones cat, but I can't help feeling WTF about it.  Also, it did not escape my son that this cat has a human nose & no whiskers, so he drew this for me & then demanded $10.  Thanks.

Keeping with the Game of Thrones theme, this is just so good.  We're used to seeing Ned Stark on the Iron Throne:

Now we have Tony Stark on The Ironman Throne:

You can order the print from the artist, Eos Victor, here.

Those were my favourite internet sweets of the past week.  Come back next week for more goodies!

Monday, July 23, 2012

The Confectionery - 9

These are the things that I think are great.  So great that I want to sing about them.

Recently, 41 vibrant pianos appeared all over Toronto as part of the Play Me, I'm Yours event.  An art installation encouraging the participation of the community, it is a kick-off to the 3 year countdown to the 2015 Pan Am Games, to be held in Toronto.  The pianos were designed by artists from each of the participating countries; they are beautiful.

Costa Rica

Now, some people might simply appreciate the artistry of each design.  Some may take a seat & play a little something if there's nobody around.  Some might take the opportunity to share their talent & entertain.  But that's not quite enough fun for my friend, Andrew.  Andrew Mitchell played & sang Gavin DeGraw's "Not Over You" on 10 different pianos around the city, then edited the filmed performances together.  In 2 minutes, visit Guatemala, Brazil, Suriname, Aruba, Cuba, Canada, The Bahamas, Haiti, Jamaica & Honduras, courtesy of Andrew!

I roll with talented people, what can I say?  
To learn more about Play Me, I'm Yours & if it's headed to your city next, go here.  To see some great photos of the pianos featured in Toronto, go here.  To learn more about Andrew Mitchell, I will tell you he's awesome, & the only thing that could have made this video MORE awesome is if he had been wearing his rebel/Che Guevara costume from a production we were both in.  I suppose Che singing "Not Over You" at the Cuban piano would have been disturbing, so...good call on the casual look, Andrew.

Written By a Kid is a new series by Geek & Sundry that transforms a story told by a child into a short film.  It's live-action, animated, stop-motion, & FUN.  I love this first installment, starring Joss Whedon as the leader of the "S.Q.U.A.T. Team".  I'm sure the kid was thinking of S.W.A.T., but this is MUCH funnier.  Hilarious & creative & bonus Kids In The Hall cast member & love love love.

Check out other videos (costumes, casting & a "making of") here.

Watch this compilation of times Mr. Wizard is snarky towards the children on his show.  It is amazing.

Ashley is my favourite.

Matt Kantor is a Rush fan who happens to be a chef.  Combining the 2, he recently prepared a 9 course meal inspired by Rush.  From the National Post article by Mike Doherty:

"Kantor’s amuse-bouche was something of a (dry) ice-breaker: a white blob plucked out of a cauldron of liquid nitrogen, to be consumed whole; the freezing substance quickly dissolving into a film of lime-flavoured meringue. The dish was named after the song Limelight, not only because of its ingredients, but also because eating it was a performance — everyone was eager to see the smoke coming out of their fellow diners’ noses."

"The song Red Barchetta, about a joyride in the future when cars have been outlawed, became a deconstructed red bruschetta where a tomato, shiny like a polished racecar, seemed to have burned black-olive rubber through a “dirt road” of breadcrumbs."

To read more details of this very creative meal, like the complex "La Villa Strangiato" dish, read the full article here.

Improv Everywhere is a comedy troupe that began with a Ben Folds Fake prank that I had read about several years ago.  They haven't stopped creating scenes since then - their website boasts of over 100 missions involving tens of thousands of people in on the joke, or "undercover agents".  Their latest scene transformed a family miniature golf outing into a major sports event - complete with fake ESPN coverage, caddies, a gallery, & the actual Claret Cup, just hoisted by the winner of this weekend's British Open, Ernie Els.  The commentary is hilarious: "Max, of course, sponsored by Star Wars", & I love that the champion is greeted by a fake family.  Well done.

Watch more scenes created by Improv Everywhere here.

I saw this shirt at thinkgeek about 9 months ago & immediately had to order it for my niece, who was yet to be born.  Labyrinth was on a steady rotation when my brother & I were young, so his baby had to have this.

What power?

You're reading this blog, so I assume you get the reference, but I see no need to NOT post this awesome clip full of awesomeness so you can have yourself a dance party.

Clearly, I am the nerdiest of Lily's 2 Aunts, as her Aunt Lindsay writes a wonderful blog about normal adult things like home renovating.  The onesie is also available as a women's shirt, & you can buy them both here.  Look how cute it looks on Lily! 

She's working on her Goblin King hair.
So far, I've resisted the urge to toss her 20 feet into the air & wait for a Muppet to catch her.  So far.

Those were my favourite internet sweets of the past week.  Come back next week for more goodies!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Michael Stipe & Mario Batali: BFFs

"His image is uniquely his.  He doesn't look like anyone else, he doesn't behave like anyone else, he doesn't dance like anyone else, he doesn't sing like anyone else. ...His incredible softness as a real person is something that is a constant source of joy for me."
 -Mario Batali on Michael Stipe

"The thing about Mario is that he has such enthusiasm for everything, & I'm really a very, very happy person, & I'm always the glass half-full guy.  I'm like a 6 year old, & Mario is like a 6 year old.  And so that enthusiasm for life & that ability to see beyond the things that are really bad or wrong, & find something good, is really what draws me to him as a a very dear friend."
-Michael Stipe on Mario Batali

I don't know why this friendship seems so unlikely - maybe their starkly opposite appearances, maybe the different paths in life both have taken - but it makes me smile.  I learned about this friendship in a very round-about way.

You can get there from here.

I've written of my love for R.E.M. before, specifically my reaction to their breakup.  I recently devoured this fantastic R.E.M. magazine by the makers of Uncut, a publication from the UK.  My husband gave it to me on my birthday, & I looked forward to reading a retrospective of R.E.M.  Having read countless R.E.M. books & interviews, I certainly didn't expect to learn anything new from it, but there are a lot of new (to me) tidbits here.  For instance, I did not know that the "yeah"s in "Man on the Moon" were a cheeky attempt to surpass the number of "yeah"s in Nirvana's "Smells Like Teen Spirit", did you?  This 148 page magazine delivers an incredibly in-depth look at the 30 year career of one of my favourite bands, with essays on every album, rare photos, & UK interviews I have never seen before.

It's hard to remember pop culture media before the internet was in every home.  No Google search for instant gratification; I had to buy Rolling Stone & SPIN to read interviews.  No YouTube to find Much Music or MTV appearances; I recorded them on VHS tapes & watched them back with fuzzy audio & blurry lines.  That's if I happened to catch it when it was on TV, with no tweets to announce upcoming appearances, tour dates or magazine covers.  I had to physically check the stores, looking for Stipe on the covers.  Hard times, indeed.  I still have a binder full of these well-read articles, complete with reinforcements for the punched holes.  The only UK magazine I had access to was a Q magazine with a cover proclaiming R.E.M. the "best act in the world today", & I only have that because I bought it in London.

I took a souvenir.

One of the interviews in the Uncut R.E.M. magazine is from a 1993 issue of Melody Maker.  Mat Smith's article begins backstage at the MTV Awards where R.E.M. is about to play for the first time in 9 months.  Here is an excerpt from the article, as R.E.M. takes the stage with "Everybody Hurts":

"[Stipe] emphasises the 'Oh, hang on' as if it means so much to him, a cry for a lover not to slip away, a suicide to think again.  A plea for contact when only loneliness and death stare back, haunted and inevitable.  I've never felt such a sense of love and sheer, focused care coming from a rock singer.

As the song builds, within it, a latent, controlled turmoil threatens to bubble over.  All of a sudden, Stipe signals a halt with one hand.  The stiff upper lip is resumed, the song fades, the click track halts, but the sentiments stirred survive in all those present.  Then, a movement to the right, a garbled jangle of electric chaos and we're into some kind of pile-driving, sure-footed funk that James Brown would shoot his wife for.  Then the realisation dawns, this is the funk version of "Drive" that Buck was talking about earlier.

Stipe is suddenly enlivened, exhumed, like a mania has descended on him.  He can't keep still, arms aloft like some cheap '70s go-go dancer.  The transition is absolute.  From sheer desperation to sheer control. ...If you could bottle the grin Peter sneaked [Stipe] at one point, you'd be a millionaire overnight.  All of them are beaming.  My heart is about to burst."

I don't know about you, but as soon as I read that, I had to watch that performance again.  I know I have it taped on a VHS labelled Videos #3 or something, but I don't have to live like a heathen in the early 90s anymore.  The transition to "Drive" begins around the 5:17 mark, & it is seamless.

I'm sure you know what happened next; I became sucked into hours of R.E.M. YouTube videos.  Eventually, I happened upon a documentary on Michael Stipe that I didn't even know existed.  Filmed in 2005, Stipe is featured alongside chef Mario Batali for The Sundance Channel's Iconoclast series.  It is well worth a watch - Michael Stipe eating dinner is more captivating than most things on YouTube.  And that's ignoring the fact that Stipe will always be my #1 celebrity crush (as if you could ever ignore his perfect combo of sweet + sexy, calm + passion, intellect + dry humour, but I digress).  When asked what viewers would find fascinating about him, Stipe says "Maybe that I'm pretty normal" & he is absolutely correct.  Stipe eating dinner, going to the market on a moped, preparing a meal, shopping for gifts, going to a concert as a's like seeing your 3rd grade teacher at the mall for the first time. 

The documentary also reveals that blue is totally Michael's colour.  Enjoy.

"The friendship that Mario & I have is pretty particular & pretty great, & the thing that nobody's really figured out is that it's really because he loves music so much, & I love food so much, & it's just as simple as that."
-Michael Stipe

Monday, July 16, 2012

The Confectionery - 8 - SDCC

These are the things that I think are great.  So great that I want to sing about them.

My favourite things of the week all come courtesy of Comic-Con.  Every year it sounds amazing, & every year I wish I had gone.  One day, I will get there.  It is written.

Not just a mecca for hardcore comic book readers & gamers anymore, there is probably something at Comic-Con for everyone.  If you don't care about The Hobbit (?!?!?), you might like to see a panel with creators & stars of The Walking Dead, Game of Thrones, True Blood, Community, Twilight, or Kevin Smith.  No?  Maybe play the new Tomb Raider game?  Check out the art of Tim Burton?  LEGO?  The Mattel display featuring Greyskull?

Who doesn't like Greyskull?
 If all else fails, there's this:

Hundreds of thousands of fans descend on Comic-Con every year, & it's more mainstream than ever. The media still call Joss Whedon a "cult favourite"...yet he is behind the 3rd biggest movie of all time, co-wrote Toy Story, & has created shows with mass appeal.  We are all embracing our nerdiness like never before, because really, everyone is nerdy about something they love, right?  Whether comic books, film, TV, video games, music, food, sports, science, beer, architecture, the octopus, foreign policy...when you love something, you obsess over it.  The thirst for more knowledge never goes away.

Comic-Con...I will forever want to be there, & here are a few examples of why it is such a shiny shindig.  Before I get started, let's be honest - if you read my Confectionery blogs, you know of my love for Firefly.  So I'll get most of the non-Firefly stuff out of the way first, because there's a lot of Firefly love here.

It's hard to tell if this is Robert Downey Jr. appearing at Comic-Con for Iron Man 3, or Tony Stark appearing at a Stark Expo.  Whichever guy this is, I WANT TO GO TO THERE.

Later, he crashes an Iron Man Costume Contest for kids.  Super cool, super cute.  Watch & imagine how star-struck all those hidden faces must be.

The Hobbit panel previewed 12 minutes of The Hobbit to rave reviews, & also featured an adorable surprise guest, Elijah Wood.  Watching this, I realize I am now in love with Richard Armitage's voice. At 12:13, just try to keep yourself from sighing.

Also, the first LEGO set based on the upcoming Hobbit movies was revealed at Comic-Con.  Unlike the darker Helm's Deep, & Shelob Attacks sets under the Lord of the Rings title, this set features an adorable Bag End, with characters Gandalf, Dwalin, Bombur, Bofur, Balin & Bilbo.

You can see more photos here, including detailed shots of Middle-earth maps on the ground behind the hobbit hole.

San Diego's Petco Park was transformed for Comic-Con into "a ballpark infested with zombies where you will climb, crawl, hide & slide your way to safety".  To add to the realness, the zombie makeup was done by the creative team behind The Walking Dead.  Check it out:

I am a huge fan of both the graphic novels & AMC series, & I can say without a doubt that I would never do this.  I don't do haunted houses - I can't even handle anyone following me up the stairs.  I'm confident that if I had attempted this obstacle course, someone would have found me curled up in a garbage can, sobbing, on the last day.  You do not want me on your zombie apocalypse team, unless you plan to use me as bait.  I can't argue with that logic.

Zachary Levi understands the power of fans.  When his series Chuck was threatened with cancellation in 2009, fans took it upon themselves to not only write letters, but purchase sandwiches in a campaign for Subway sponsorship.  Watch this video of Zachary Levi leading Chuck fans in a mass exodus to a Subway shop to save Chuck.  It worked.

Last year, The Nerd Machine (a company founded by Zachary Levi) launched a separate event in San Diego at the same time Comic-Con was on.  The idea was to host small panels, Q&As, gaming events & parties on a more intimate scale than Comic-Con.  All proceeds go to Operation Smile, & last year $40,000 was raised.  This year it was on track to make $100,000 (no figures have been released as of now).  It is an amazing grass-roots event that this year had fans tweeting about being at a Nerd HQ dance party, sandwiched between Felicia Day & Joss Whedon.  Panels included Dr. Who, Damon Lindelof, Twilight, Joss Whedon, Nathan Fillion, Seth Green, & Zac himself.  Of course, the one I will embed is the wonderful Joss Whedon panel. 

All other panels can be viewed at, & you can read great blogs about the Nerd HQ experience here.

At 3am Friday morning, fans who were camped out overnight to get into the Firefly 10th Anniversary panel were awakened by Joss Whedon.  Joss went down the line to see everyone who was there, taking photos & signing autographs for the people who love Firefly as much as he does.  How can you not love this man? 

You can read an in-depth blog by someone who was there here.

If you've never seen Firefly, maybe you don't understand the big deal around this gathering for a 14 episode series that's been off the air for a decade.  Firefly was treated poorly by FOX - episodes were aired out of order, timeslots were changed abruptly - & it was cancelled after 11 episodes had aired.  The fans rallied & eventually Firefly was resurrected in the form of a movie, Serenity.  Firefly & Serenity continue to have a massive fan base, & if you have yet to watch this phenomenal series, please do so.

The panel itself was both hilarious & touching, & at times deeply emotional.  Much has been said about the love between the cast & crew of Firefly, & it is apparent that this is still true, 10 years later.  Firefly meant a great deal to everyone. The Science Channel will be airing a TV special about this reunion on November 11th.

The entire panel is worth watching, but here are a few highlights:

At the 16:47 mark, Adam Baldwin explains the origins of the infamous Jayne hat, likening it to "a birthday cake in a wasteland".
At the 24:23 mark, watch the hilarious mugging of Nathan Fillion when Joss gets sidetracked before answering "Why was Nathan the perfect captain for the Serenity?", & then watch as he can't contain his emotions when Joss finally answers.
At the 43:10 mark, Nathan delivers a beautiful sentiment about the ending of the show.
At the 47:48 mark, Joss is overcome when asked "What do the fans mean to you?"  Virtually everyone on the panel is in tears along with him as a standing ovation cheers him on.  He finally ends with a touching tribute to the fans & damnit, I'm crying again.

If that's not enough Firefly Comic-Con coverage for you, the post-panel press conference is just as entertaining & moving. Here it is, split into 3 parts.

As Nathan said, "When Firefly died, I thought it was the worst thing that could possibly happen.  And what I realize now, 10 years later, looking out onto this room, is that the worst thing that could have happened is if it had stayed dead.  That it died, is ok."

And as Joss said, "Can everyone tweet that I said that?  I don't want him to have the best."

Those were my favourite internet sweets of the past week.  Come back next week for more goodies!

Monday, July 09, 2012

The Confectionery - 7

These are the things that I think are great.  So great that I want to sing about them.

Meghan Tonjes is a singer who has been posting her videos on YouTube for years.  As she is a woman who is not a size 0, or hyper-sexualized for your viewing pleasure, she gets occasional comments about her size.  This is her response, & it is amazing & inspiring.

"Why does it hurt you if I don't hate myself?"  Love it.

A street artist has painted a bridge in Wuppertal, Germany, so it now looks like it was constructed out of LEGO.  How cool is this?
Is it just me, or would you feel safer driving under a LEGO bridge, too?  To see more photos of the bridge, go here.  To see more art by Megx, go here.

A boy named Zachary recently made a request to the Make a Wish Foundation. Here's what special effects company Spectral Motion had to say about it: "It was Zachary's wish to meet Hellboy and also to become Hellboy. When the Make-A-Wish Foundation contacted Spectral Motion with this request, Mike thought it would be fantastic to have Ron Perlman reprise his role for the day. Ron loved the idea and donned the makeup once more (with the assistance of Lufeng Qu and Eden Elizalde) and also ordered a Hellboy sized meal of burgers, shakes, and fries for Zachary and his family and the entire Spectral crew to enjoy. Later in the day, Zachary was transformed into Hellboy with the assistance of makeup artists Lufeng Qu and Neil Winn."  That's gotta make you smile.

To see more photos, go here.

Geek & Sundry recently posted this song by comedy duo Paul & Storm.  Directed at Game of Thrones author George R. R. Martin, the song is a plea for him to write faster.  His recent span of 6 years between books 4 & 5 has left many fans frustrated...& hungry.  "We need 6-paged descriptions of every last meal."

I love the HBO GoT theme that storms in at the 2:08 mark.   Also, my Mom saw this video before I did.  My Mom is cooler than your Mom.

Set to begin filming in Toronto in the Fall, the Robocop reboot starring Joel Kinnaman is getting lots of buzz.  Now, we get our first look at the updated ED-209 in this teaser, meant to be an ad for OmniCorp.

Read about my first ever viewing of Robocop - last month - here.

I recently saw this photo of latte art featuring the Death Star & Tie-Fighters.  The most artistic thing I can do with my lattes is spoon foam on top - I am now calling that "The Wampa".

After marveling at this, I searched to see if more Star Wars Latte Art existed, & it does!  Or did, since these lattes were presumably very yummy & disappeared shortly after these photos were taken.

Boba Fett

Talented, these baristas are.

Those were my favourite internet sweets of the past week.  Come back next week for more goodies!

Monday, July 02, 2012

The Confectionery - 6

These are the things that I think are great.  So great that I want to sing about them.

Some people have patience.  Some people have a vision.  YouTube user FlippyCat has both, & also a ton of dominoes.  With over 7000 dominoes & 11 hours, he faithfully recreated Van Gogh's famous work of art, Starry Night.  It looks beautiful enough pre-fall, but when all the dominoes have, that's impressive.

He also made a Mona Lisa, back in 2007. 

I thought my brother & I were pretty amazing with our Domino Rally set, but I guess this guy beats us.

How many of these candy bars can you identify in this photo/print by Rachel Been?  I was only stumped by some of the American candy bars that aren't available here in Canada (at least on a widespread basis).  Despite this, I should probably be embarrassed by how many I guessed correctly, yet upon reflection, I seem to feel quite proud. 

You can get the answer/cheat sheet here.

The internet is powered by cute kitten videos, but this one warms my heart like no other.  Don't worry - this Anakin didn't lose his legs in an epic battle on a volcano planet.  This less-mopey Anakin was born without a pelvis or back legs.  He doesn't seem to know this.

Anakin has a facebook page where you can get Anakin updates, & a FAQ page, where you can see his incredible X-Ray.  Go, Ani!

My love for the octopus knows no bounds.  Here are a few reasons why:
They are turbocharged: Cephalopods use jet propulsion to get around.  That's cool.
They are real-life Mystiques: They can change not only the colour & pattern of their skin, but even the texture.  Suck it, chameleons.
They have 3 Hearts: THREE hearts!  So they must be capable of loving me as much as I love them.

They are awesome, & so is one of my Birthday gifts, given to me from my brother & his wife:
Now that I know this exists, I know I'm not the only person who would delight in pretending my black coffee is octopus ink.  And of course I'd be pretending, because they release ink when trying to escape & why would one ever try to escape from me?  I would only want to love it forever & ever & have its likeness tattooed on my shoulder, with tentacles extending down my arm & around my collarbone, but also he is purple.  Not that I've given it much thought.  Buy this awesome mug here for the cephalopod lover in your life.

Yesterday we celebrated Canada Day, & I would be remiss not to mention it.  I wrote a more personal blog yesterday, but today I bring you videos to entertain the masses.  To celebrate our 145th Birthday, Molson has created a version of our National Anthem using their products & packaging.  While not my Canadian beer of choice, you have to love their patriotism.  I don't know what I want more - a beer can hi-hat or didgeridoo.

Also, Canadians are very familiar with this Molson ad from the 1990s, but it just doesn't seem like Canada Day without it:

My favourite piece about our fair nation would be this segment from the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver.  Tom Brokaw delivered a beautiful tribute to the country I love so much.

Not mentioned in this piece was our health care system, which may explain the misinformed Americans who declared this week after the Supreme Court ruling that they were moving to Canada.

In my first Confectionery blog, I posted an a capella arrangement of Gotye's hit Somebody That I Used To Know.  I noted that it was overdone, & we were all sick of the song & every cover it had spawned.  Pentatonix's version was just too good to not share, & the same could be said of this parody, which targets George Lucas' seemingly never-ending quest to change everything we love about the Star Wars films.  As an added bonus for this blog, where I recap Survivor, the parody features Tyson Apostal, from the Tocantins and Heroes vs Villains seasons.
Enjoy this, you will.

This really worked.  Within seconds, a scotch appeared in my hand.  Follow the 3 steps here, & prepare to suddenly be more distinguished than you once were.

Those were my favourite internet sweets of the past week.  Come back next week for more goodies!

Sunday, July 01, 2012

My Canada

Today is the 145th Birthday of Canada.  In my 34 years, I have been fortunate enough to have lived in, or traveled to (or through) 8 of our 10 provinces, & came damn close to making it to one of our 3 territories. 

Both of my parents are from Newfoundland, & I was born in Scarborough, Ontario.  I spent my first few years there, before my family moved to Edmonton, Alberta.  By the time I was 3, I had seen the majestic Rocky Mountains (while wearing a Newfoundland shirt!), & some really short shorts on a guy.

Also, a Mountain Goat.

When I was 5, we moved to the US, where we lived in Pennsylvania & Delaware for the next 5 years.  The clearest memory I have of my early childhood is loudly proclaiming "I'm Canadian" when my Kindergarten teacher would say something like, "As Americans, we..."

The first time I learned that life isn't fair was when I got kicked out of my Grade 1 Spelling Bee.  Not because I spelled something wrong - because I spelled "blaze" with a "zed" & not a "zee".  My teacher insisted "zed" wasn't a real letter & I went home in tears.  I'm still bitter about it.

We moved back to Canada in 1988.  Now, it is well documented that most Canadians live within 100 miles of the US border.  We moved closer to a different border...the border of Manitoba & what is now Nunavet, but at the time was part of the Northwest Territories.

My Father, an engineer, had been transferred to Sundance, Manitoba to work on the Limestone Dam on the Nelson River.  Sundance was north of Gillam, along the Nelson River; it was built for the workers & their families, next to Bird, Reserve Land for the Fox Lake Cree Nation.  It was comprised of trailers, an elementary school (made of trailers), a recreation complex, a small post office, grocer, & not much else.

Snowman building outside of our home.  May, 1988.
The view down our street after we moved into our Double-Wide.  Hells yeah.

Sundance had extreme weather conditions.  It was freezing for 10 months straight, then immediately scorching & overrun with flies for the other 2.  I say "was" because Sundance is now not only a ghost town - there are hardly any traces of it left.  Sundance was meant to last only for the duration of the Dam project; Once it was completed, the town was dismantled.  It's terribly sad, & quite surreal to see that only a footprint of this once lively community still exists. 

Sundance, Manitoba - Google Earth Image

Two very happy years of my life were spent in Sundance, despite the tragedy of my cancelled 10th Birthday Party due to a blizzard (on June 29th).  I had good friends.  I sang in my first choir.  There were forests to explore, with weekly spottings of Arctic Foxes & Ptarmigans.  One day, recess was cancelled because a bear was scratching its back on a tree outside (maybe those forest explorations were ill-advised).  Our class never had a field trip to a zoo; We traveled to Churchill to see Polar Bears in the wild.  I learned more about Canada`s Native history & community in my 2 years there then I did in all my Canadian History classes.  I learned how to make bannock, & tried rabbit stew, & caribou meat.  And the can't even imagine the stars.  I walked with traditional snowshoes, tobogganed at The Pits, & participated in the Bike Rodeo & watched River Raft Races (which I now recognize as a dangerous combination of homemade rafts & beer).

And now it stands still.  I can see the route where I rode my bike faster than I ever had, to escape the onslaught of black flies. I can see the path I took through waist-high snow to go to school.  I can clearly see Park Road & Tamarack Bay, the 2 streets we lived on - I know which lots were ours.  I almost wish this Google Earth image had been taken when Sundance was covered in snow so it wouldn't be quite so heartbreaking.

One thing that makes me happy is this post I found a few weeks back: the Sundance Recreation Centre had been purchased by the Southern Manitoba town of Pilot Mound.  It has since been refurbished & is now home to a hockey arena, curling rink & daycare...not unlike its days in Sundance, where I learned to figure skate & play arcade games.

A small piece of Sundance lives on.

In 1989, we moved from Sundance to a town outside of Toronto, Ontario.  My family has been here ever since.  This province has its own majesty.  Niagara Falls & the surrounding wine country.  Muskoka.  The gorgeous cobblestone streets & Parliament buildings in Ottawa.  Toronto: the enormous city I'm happy to be only 30 minutes away from.  World-class theatre, music, art, sports, food...I am lucky. 

View of the downtown core from a rooftop patio in Toronto...just beautiful.

There is but one other place in this beautiful country where I truly feel like I'm home: Newfoundland.  My parents both hail from this island, so we would make a trip "home" once every 2 or 3 years.  I have many family members living there, in the St. John's area, & in a small bay town, St. Alban's.

Traveling to Newfoundland was always an ordeal - my Mother is no fan of flying, so we would drive through Quebec, New Brunswick, & Nova Scotia, crossing on a ferry.  It took several days, depending on where we were coming from, but it was beautiful.  Stopping in a francophone New Brunswick town, watching the landscape of Nova Scotia as I listened to early R.E.M. on my Sony Walkman, & somehow it fit.  We would inevitably arrive tired, smelly & cranky.  Yet, we were greeted with such warmth & hospitality that I just knew this was my family, even if I hadn't seen them in years.  I think this is the feeling everyone gets from Newfoundlanders - I'm just lucky enough to actually be related.

The long road trips?  They were worth it.

The scenery is stunning, the people & memories, more so.

Happy Birthday, Canada.  My home & native land.