Here’s how I fared on my 2012 goals in July!
Kulture – Concerts
On Canada Day, Rom and I went for a stroll at Fisherman’s Wharf in the hot sun, on a weathered boardwalk over the dune grass. You could buy fish fresh off the boat, or local strawberries, or 15 kinds of homemade fudge; and an earnest singer-songwriter attempted to woo the crowd. Later we took in the fireworks over the harbour, and the fog did not roll in, so we could see them! Bonus! The band Mother Mother were invited to town to put on a free concert, and later on, USS (Ubiquitous Synergy Seeker) put on an even better show. Yay for free rock concerts selected by city employees who actually know what’s cool!
The following weekend, Rom and I spent two nights at the Spread the Metal Festival. Last month I joked that it might sell only 800 tickets. I overestimated by four-fold! The sales were so poor, I am amazed they didn’t cancel it. We watched 6 bands play to an almost-empty room. The headliners were Kataclysm, Cryptopsy, and Morbid Angel, however, I liked Fallen Joy best. We always like to check the progress of our local stoner metal band Black Moor too, although every time we see them, they seem to have lost more brain cells.
- Concert Goal: 1 per month
- July concert progress: 3 nights, 8 bands.
- Year to date status: 6 shows in 7 months
Tonight we are going to see Slash in concert. For our city’s birthday next weekend, the musically savvy city employees are bringing in Wintersleep for a free show. And happily, two rock festivals are coming up later this year, so we bought all-access passes to both Summersonic in September and the Halifax Pop Explosion in October. Our musical life is looking up!
Kulture: Museum Visit
We made a visit to a local museum to see an exhibit of movie costumes. There were lots from Star Wars, Star Trek, Batman and Indiana Jones. Even as a former theatre student, I am still fascinated by how costumes and props can be made cheaply and still look so impressive to the audience.
Kulture: Tall Ships / Parade of Sail
Being a coastal city, the Tall Ships circuit visits us every couple of years, so we can view and board beautiful sailing ships, and watch them parade around the harbour. We spent one evening admiring the ships moored at the harbour-front, and watched them sail out in procession the next day – once again in the hot sun. Definitely one of the perks of being a Maritimer!
Kulture: Pride Parade
Our city holds its LGBT Pride Week and Parade in late July, a smart decision because our June weather is usually dismal. (Most cities commemorate around June 28, the anniversary of the Stonewall Riots). Our Pride Parade is super family-friendly and everyone takes their kids out for the celebration. This year, I marched with the library staff – it was the first year the public library entered the Parade. Our group was situated between the Adopt-a-Greyhound folks and Neptune Theatre’s float. We were definitely upstaged by the elegant dogs! The Pride Parade is one of my favourite events of the whole year because it makes our city’s inclusiveness so visible. I really missed having our kid, Link, with us because it was a major family occasion for us each year, but Link got to celebrate in Toronto this June. Oh, and we enjoyed the day in the hot sun – three sunny days this month for three huge outdoor festivals – what are the chances of that? (I’ll tell you: in our rainy city, the chances of that happening are infinitesimally small!)
Another antidote to the series of Alien movies I watched last month. I love tales of restrained women who prevail. I wonder why? (hint) Beatrix Potter was a naturalist, a significant preservationist, an illustrator, an author, and a code maker extraordinaire. Despite growing up in a wealthy, liberal Unitarian family, and being an heiress to boot, she astounded everyone by becoming a woman of independent means. All this and a love story, too!
Rise of the Planet of the Apes
I liked the last remake (2001), but I found the animal abuse in this movie really hard to watch! This film is a back-story for upcoming series titles. There is a good performance by James Franco, and convincing and credible performances by individual chimps and other primates (using “performance capture” technology). The film also explores ethical issues around animals and medical technology. It’s not a spoiler to tell you that the apes became vengeful as a result of their treatment by humans.
Verdict: Recommended for the special effects and movie technologies only
Bienvenue Chez les Ch’tis (Welcome to the Sticks)
This French comedy seemed very simplistic at first, and I didn’t like the humour, but I stuck with it and it was very heart-warming! A family man is in danger of losing his job, and is punished for his unethical job-keeping attempts by being posted to a remote northern town. He sets off, solo, to his miserable fate. Much to his surprise, his wife is so sympathetic to his situation that his marriage actually improves. He then has to maintain the illusion that he hates his job and new life, despite becoming happier and happier in les ch’tis.
The Other F Word
How do grown-up, anti-authority punk rockers fare as dads? Surprisingly well. The other F word is Fatherhood! Features Jim Lindberg of Pennywise, Tim McIlroth of Rise Against, Mark Hoppus of Blink 182, Fat Mike from NOFX, Flea from RHCP, and honourary punk Tony Hawk. There are three themes going on: how they stay “punk rock” while dealing with everyday life with children, how they cope with leaving their families behind when they go on tour, and, touchingly, how every one of them wants to be a good parent and overcome the legacies of their own absent fathers.
The Class (Entre Les Murs)
If there’s one thing I love, it’s a teacher movie. This fictional peek into an inner-city school in Paris is not a copy of The Freedom Writers. It is slow-moving and contains lengthy scenes of classroom instruction. But you gradually get to know the kids and see the effects of the teacher’s approach.
Verdict: Lukewarm recommendation
- Movie Goal: 4 movies per month
- Movies Watched: 5 this month
- Goal Status: Exceeded
Still reading lots, although half of this month’s books were browsable:
- Foiled – by Jane Yolen (graphic novel)
- 10,001 Ways to Live Large on a Small Budget – by Wise Bread (based on the blog)
- A Homemade Life – by Molly Wizenberg (based on her blog Orangette)
- Atomic Ranch: Mid-Century Interiors – by Michelle Gringeri-Brown and Jim Brown (home deco/restoration)
- A Monster Calls – by Patrick Ness (Young Adult)
- The Book of Lost Things – by John Connolly (adult fairy tale/horror)
- The Reinvention of Love – by Helen Humphreys
- Cinderella Ate My Daughter – by Peggy Orenstein
Reviews have already been posted.
Kulture & Food: Restaurants
Once again we didn’t go to any restaurants on our wish-list. In fact, we were attending the metal festival almost next door to one of the restaurants, and chose not to go because they have only one vegetarian dish on the menu. I think my new goal will be to discover the most vegetarian-friendly restaurants in the city. We accidentally hit on one that night – we ate at the Italian Market, which is cafeteria-style and had oodles of veggie options! I had a mushroom and spinach strata (layered in a stack of crepes). Yummy! My only other restaurant meal this month was a big take-out samosa, my fast food of choice.
My new goal will be to visit and report on one local restaurant each month that offers several vegetarian options. If I could find 12 in a year and then cycle through them again, I’d be very happy.
This month I continued baking despite the heat. I still need to eat! I made bread, muffins and cookies. Rom doesn’t usually bake, but this month he made cornbread and oat scones and even tried his hand at crumpets, which were a great success; although he would say they were a “faff” to make. I hadn’t made anything good for work lunches in ages, so I made some gingered carrot soup. I really need to step up my lunch making. This coming week I am going to scrounge some ingredients for Greek salad. Shouldn’t be too much trouble finding cucumbers and tomatoes!
This month I tried pretending that a driving examiner was sitting next to me, so I would be inspired to drive better. But I kept giggling, thinking about the creepy driving instructor in the movie Happy-Go-Lucky. I think it was a successful technique, although no one drives that well all the time.
On a positive note, my new car is getting good gas mileage. Covering the same commuting distance as before, I now only have to fill the tank 3 times a month instead of 4, so that is a saving of 25%!
I made some progress on decluttering this month. I fixed my file cabinet which had a drawer running off the rails, and that enabled me to get up to date on filing. At work, I also finished a big filing/reorganizing project and even created a searchable index for it. (That is what we librarians do). I also spent a couple of days making book decisions. I had about 100 books sitting in my office awaiting their fate: accept this donation for the library? Offer to another branch of the library? Discard this damaged book? Order a new copy? Send for repair? So I would say my office is now 90% decluttered.
I still say that yard work is my biggest decluttering project. This month I spent 9 hours weeding and trimming shrubs, and mowed the lawn three times. We finally had rain, so everything is rebounding nicely.
Magic the Gathering
I have had a reprieve. Rom plays guitar and he has become obsessed with guitars again. In addition to playing, he is reading all kinds of books on the history of the electric guitar. So now I know all about the 1952 Gibson Les Paul Goldtop, the difference between a trapeze bridge and a Tune-o-Matic bridge, and what a soapbar pickup looks like. As a rock music fan, and having even taken guitar lessons for 6 months “once upon a time,” I am actually quite conversant in guitar-speak, so this is working out well!