Monthly Archives: April 2012

Aww Fuck NO!

If I saw this beast flying around IRL I would only be able to assume that hell had cracked open at its deepest core, expelling all malevolent demons to rape and pillage mankind. I would make haste to the closet apocalyptic weaponry shop and stock the fuck up. Then, most likely I would hide.

Sarah disagrees, she thinks that this flying fox looks relatively harmless and is almost kind of… cute. PUT DOWN THE CRACK PIPE MS. CYNTHIA! Whether he is, “simply enjoying his banana…”, or NOT… he needs to flap back into whatever nightmare he came from. Small bats, no problem, but this fucker is alarmingly and unpleasantly ginormous. Like Starship Troopers big; I mean clearly the military feels the need to get involved here. You know how some people say if you fell from a tall building you would die ‘several times’ before hitting the ground? This is the animal equivalent.

Visit cracked.com for 18 other images you won’t believe are not Photoshopped.

– Sylvia “Big-Bats-No-Bueno” Stout.

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Shirtcocking

Over brunch this morning at the Drake, while sipping our much needed Caesars and mowing our Benedicts, we discussed with great hilarity the phenomenon known as shirtcocking. I have actually experienced a shirtcocker in the flesh, unfortunately for me, many years ago while riding the very busy 501 across town. Quel sue-prise.

The streetcar was stalled at Leslie, and from my seat in the back I could hear a commotion taking place at the ‘cockpit’. (Pun most definitely intended.) A man — I want to recall him as being homeless although it is entirely possible he was just your run of the mill weirdo — was trying to pay his fare to the driver who was demanding the man exit the car immediately. “You can’t ride the streetcar like that, sir, please step off.” At first I didn’t even bother investigating; as not much is worthy of such an effort on the wretched albeit at times entertaining 501.

My attention only piqued when the man refused the driver’s demands for immediate departure, and began vehemently defending his right to ride the streetcar as he was. I could only see part of him from where I was seated so I leaned sideways in my seat and had a gander. My first thought was, “What the fuck is the hold up here, he seems fine to me.” However,  as my eyes scanned the vagrant from head to toe, I realized abruptly what the issue was. He was wearing a collared shirt, perhaps even a jacket, but that was all. No pants, no underwear, and apparently little regard for the societal requirement that at all times when in public, we wear at least one of these things, if not both. This man was getting his shirtcock on.

The thing about shirtcocking, is that is catches you off guard; startles you abruptly into looking directly at a man’s bits with little to no prior warning. Blatant public nudity would be more forgiving because at least your brain can immediately register the offense, but with shirtcocking you almost feel like the asshole with your pants caught around your ankles. I am interested to know who else would agree with this, but a penis and balls out and about without context is a bizarre and oftentimes unsettling sight.

Of course at the time I had no such name for this shirtcockery. It was Sarah who brought to our attention that the term had some early linkage to the Burning Man festival. Burning Man welcomes individuals from all walks of life, and freedom through self expression is encouraged in every form. Except one. While at Burning Man, thou shalt not shirtcock.

Seth Stevenson wrote an article about Burning Man for slate.com that you should read here. The following excerpt highlights the ardently frowned upon act of shirtcocking at the festival:

“There was, however, one form of nudity that everyone seemed to agree had no place within the Burning Man community. This is the type of nudity known as “shirtcocking.” Shirtcocking is when a man wears a top but is naked from the waist down. I have also heard this look referred to as “the toddler,” or “Porky Pigging.”

For reasons that are hard to fully explain—if you’ve witnessed the phenomenon you know this is true—shirtcocking is disquieting to the observer’s soul. Visually disturbing to an extreme degree. People at Burning Man are so averse to shirtcocking that I saw several posted signs vehemently denouncing the practice. And yet there were shirtcockers.”

So maybe the man trying to board the TTC that fateful day was neither a homeless man, nor a garden variety weirdo, but a harmless shirtcocking exile from Black Rock City.  In any case, this observer’s soul was disquieted.

Rock out with your cock… in,

Syl.

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Doom Squad

Sometimes, when I wander up the pathways of my mind, I remember …

Running on a pine needle carpet, among the trees, warpaint on my face. Sitting round a fire, lying back and staring at the Milky Way. Strange rituals, talismans, codes written on birch bark and unravelled. Symbols scratched into the dirt. Meaning in the forest. Intention in the lake. Soul in the stones. A heartbeat in the earth …

Hear it?? Listen!

Listen!

Listen!

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Music Makes the People Come Together, Yeah!!

I was chatting with one of my wives this afternoon, and she mentioned this thing called the International Mixtape Project. It’s kind of like a chain letter, except cool instead of annoying: you sign up on their website, pay a $10 fee to cover their admin costs (fair, I suppose), and submit your address. Each month, a random member’s address is sent to you, and  you mail them a mixtape or CD.  You, in turn, receive one from another random member. (Please note that if anyone actually sends me a tape, I’ll be pissed. I got rid of my Walkman when I was twelve and how the fuck will I get the songs onto my computer?? Damn hipsters.)

With 1200 members in thirty countries, I expect the musical tastes of the IMP to be relatively broad. It sounds like a great way to gain exposure to new and different artists, and share something with a stranger who could be thousands of miles away. The IMP is yet another manifestation of our generation’s desire to connect … amirite? I love that it makes use of snail mail. Receiving an email containing a .zip file full of mp3’s is just, I’m sorry, not interested. But a real thing, a physical package that necessitates the checking of my mailbox? Now that‘s exciting.

So I just signed up. I’ll let you know how it goes.

Love, Sarah

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Acqua Alta

The summer I was sixteen, I traveled to Italy to attend a study abroad program for a month. The college was located in the quaint and picturesque town of Lanciano on the Adriatic coast in the Abruzzo region, about four hours east of Rome. It was my first major trip, and the only one I had made overseas up to that point in my life. I fell in love with everything. The scenery, the landscapes, the rolling farmlands and little villages built upon cliff-sides just teeming  with history and beauty. The narrow cobblestone streets, the stacked apartments with their perpetually open windows, flower boxes and laundry lines offering a smattering of vibrancy to the golden, sun-drenched architecture. Drinking Italian reds and smoking cigars at sidewalk cafes at the age of sixteen also lent a certain charm.

My very favourite part of the experience was the trip we made to Venice. Venice is a city unlike any I have ever seen; a backdrop to the magical settings we read about in literature. OH… the pure romance of it all is enough to stun a person into speechlessness. I will forever remember what it feels like to roam the streets of Venice at dusk.

One thing I didn’t experience while I was visiting the sinking city however, was the flooding. Ms. Cynthia with her penchant for finding awesome things we love to look at, suggested we post these. Acqua Alta is the term used in Venice to describe this phenomenon, caused by exceptional tide peaks common in the northern Adriatic sea during the months between autumn and spring. As the pictures below highlight, the citizens and travelers of Venice have simply learned to adapt. Call me crazy, but I would love to purchase a coupla pairs of gum rubbers, toss ole’ Sarah upon my back, and travel over to experience this myself, before the whole city turns Atlantis.

Let’s get wet!

-Sylvia.

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All that Glitters

Last night we hosted a small and somewhat impromptu gathering, at where we drank some wine, scarfed poutines, and unleashed our inner magpies; playing around with delicate clasps, rings, fasteners, beads, crystals, abalone shells, feathers, and essentially every other item known for its enticing jewel-beauty.

Sometimes I have these bursts of inspiration in the DIY arena of life, but often due to my shameful lack of patience, and utter inability to properly follow instructions, (my ‘recipes’ are barely edible, dream on Ikea nightstand), I abandon ship half way through most projects. Or I wind up making something completely useless and preposterous: Click here for an illustration. Interestingly, this is not the case when I use my imagination to create something, ONLY when I am following someone else’s design.

Last night’s creations, featured last in the line of photos below, are completely imperfect, but I kind of can’t wait to wear them for that very reason.

Mme. Stout.

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Red Wigglers

Sounds dirty… and it is! Dirt is dirty by it’s very nature after all.

The dirt (super-nutrient rich soil, really) in question, is that produced by my brand spankin’ new Dumptown Worm Condo. I purchased this inventive recycled ice cream container turned composter, at the Mutts & Co. travelling market this weekend past. Dumptown, an ongoing urban ‘garbage’ reclamation project started by Mel Sinclair and Warren Ounjian, proves that one person’s trash can most certainly be another person’s treasure. These two next level, enviro-entrpeneurs create new uses for old things. They turn pop bottles into mini mountable herb gardens, old windows into desks and picture frames, milk crates into hanging shelves, and dog hair sheddings into paintbrushes… Rubbish to rubies! Refreshing in a world that seemingly values ‘newness’ and needless wasting.

The Worm Condo is fabricated from three reused commercial sized ice cream containers, and fits comfortably under my kitchen sink. Due to it’s size, it can not feasibly act as a stand alone method for composting, and I will continue to make good use of my green bin in conjunction with my little red wigglers, but I love that this option is relatively odourless and produces the, “gold standard of natural fertilizers” for my new garden.

The worm condo houses a generous smattering of red wigglers, shredded news paper, and kitchen scraps. It employs the stacking system of two hole poked containers resting in a third solid container, as to make easy the process of separating  the wormies from their castings (poop!!!). Once separated, the worm castings can be mixed in with existing soils as a form of nutrient enrichment; you can even soak it in water to “make an energizing fertilizer tea that you pour over crops”.

Now for some Oligochaetology: Red wigglers (aka, panfish worms, trout worms, tiger worms, and red Californian earth worms) are commonly used for vermicomposting due to their adaptability to decaying organic material. These worms like to eat vegan scrappings, so no fats, diary, meat, or related table scraps, but feeding them a crushed egg shell (or a Tums) once a month will provide them with the calcium they need to procreate. They thrive in small spaces, in close proximity to other wigglers, and they prefer warmth and darkness. Sounds like my kind of worm!

I am both excited and intrigued to make use of my new worm condo. I will post pictures in a couple of months when I plant something with the first batch of castings. Stay tuned for any worm related mishaps (Gary is coming over this week), although I hope that doesn’t happen, because it would mean my precious new friends aren’t happy and thriving. In the meantime, check out Dumptown’s tumblr for some reclaimed rubbish eye-candy. Great stuff!

– Sylvia and her Wigglaz.

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Avalanches – Since I Left You

Happy Sunday Afternoon! I love this song, this group, this album SO MUCH. I don’t know how I went all this time — like, my whole life until ten minutes ago — without seeing the video. What creative geniuses. Make another album …. please? …. someday? ………..

I’ll wait.

Love, Sarah

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DAMN NATURE YOU GARY!

I was pleasantly surprised to hear from a bright and chipper Gary this morning; early enough that I was led to believe he only crushed a sixer last night, leaving the remaining twofour for another occasion.

I was telling him about this worm bin composter I am planning on purchasing from the Muttonhead Market, and it came out that Gary doesn’t like worms, he thinks they’re “gross”. Pretty atypical for Gary, I must say. In any event, following our conversation, Gary stepped it up and found this nasty-ass centipede video to scar me with, and by proxy, you too. However, let it be known, that for all of his hatred for these obscenely legged beasts, Gary would shed and eat his own skin in a heartbeat if nature allowed it…

Welcome to the Jungle Bitches!

 

 

 

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Photog Dad = Cute Overload

An adorable little monkey named Merrin came to us with a post request, and one that I am happy to fulfill.

Jason Lee is a photographer with a sense of humour and an outside the box mentality about creativity. When his mother was diagnosed with cancer, he couldn’t always take his two (simply edible) little girls to visit her, so he created these images using his own ideas, and theirs, to keep her abreast of their day to day activities. Please read the full story here, and in the meantime I have shared some of my faves.

ThanksMerrinMonkeyShines!

-SS.

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Kids These Days

Re: budget cuts affecting the fate of the High Park Zoo.

I just saw this over at Torontoist.com and had to pass it on. What a hilarious kid. As much as I’m sure the child’s parent or caregiver probably had a hand in the creative direction of this piece, I’d love to think it’s 100% the work of a little human with her eyes and ears wide open.

Here‘s the original article. Hope you have a relly great day.

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Mutts & Co.

Our dear friends and proprietors of Muttonhead Collective, a unique and enviro-friendly fashion label hailing out of Toronto, are hosting yet another pop-up shoppe and this time are aptly naming it a ‘traveling market’. Who doesn’t love the impermanence, intrigue, and mystery of venues that travel? Think circuses, freak-shows, and carnivals: There is always something to see, eat, drink, point at, and in this case – most certainly to purchase!

On the agenda this time around:

Wednesday- Raw food cooking demo by foodie Gillian Young (5-7)
Thursday – Craft Brewing 101 + Beer tasting (5-7)
Friday – Urban Gardening installation (all day)
Saturday/Sunday – Maverick (from Crown Shaving Co.) is providing gentlemanly shaves + cuts 50% off (11-5)

Check out the poster below for more details, take a wander on over to College at Crawford to get yer magpie on and show your support for local designers, artists, and entrepreneurs. Fun on a hotdawg bun!

– Syl.

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Levon’s Last Waltz

Oh, god. Just read that Levon Helm is “in the final stages of his battle with cancer.” This is such a loss for the whole world of music. I’m especially crushed because he played here in Toronto fairly recently, and for some stupid reason (read: work), I didn’t go see him. At least I have The Last Waltz to remember him by. If you don’t know, this is Martin Scorsese’s love letter to The Band, documenting their final live performance. The Band invited some friends to play with them that night: friends like Bob Dylan, Emmylou Harris, Van Morrison, Eric Clapton, Muddy Waters … needless to say the performances are extraordinary.

I’ve watched this film many times and I never fail to shed a tear or three at the sound of Joni Mitchell’s mermaid voice as she harmonizes with an inordinately coked-out Neil Young on “Helpless.” I dare you to remain dry-eyed:

And here’s The Band doing Up On Cripple Creek. This — handsome, earthy, kinetic, and having the time of his life — is how I will always remember Levon:

Levon, I really do love you. Thanks for everything. I wish you peace and contentment on your journey.

SC

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Time for Tavel!

Tonight marks the first of our many many dinners on the deck … that we intend to have, in the future. Now that we live in the same building, Syl and I share ownership of a large, secret deck, and a barbeque. Granted, we didn’t get things going till after nine tonight, which meant that we ended up eating inside instead of out. But dinner was still delicious! We shared a bottle of Tavel, which is an appellation in southern France that produces rose exclusively. It was dry and refreshingly acidic, and it tasted like strawberries. I don’t know what we were thinking when we only got one bottle.

We grilled some chicken and slathered it in Sweet Baby Ray’s barbeque sauce. Have you ever tried this shit? It is absolutely outrageous. I got hooked on it while living in the States, and then to my chagrin, was unable to find it in stores back home. But they’ve started selling it here and it is unequivocally the breast, ever. Please eat some.

I created a new dish tonight. I like to call it Poor Man’s Burrata. I poured olive oil over cottage cheese, salt and peppered the bejesus out of it, and finished it off with halved heirloom cherry tomatoes and fresh torn basil leaves. I can report that it did at least a half decent job of satisfying us, with our champagne taste and very very beer budgets.

Also on the table sits a beautiful bouquet of flowers that Syl brought me! Sigh … she’s so amazing.

Now we are laaaaaaid back, with full beers and full tummies, listening to early Bob Marley. Tomorrow night we’re going to check out Reggae Tuesday at the Orbit Room … anyone been?? We can’t wait.

 

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Where do you fit in?

Pffff… Mathematicians!?… whatever! Shit Tier represent! The parties are great, the fellow friends even better…

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Vomitous

What is up with puking? The act of barfing must be one of the most (momentarily) unpleasant side effects of being a human.Wikipedia describes vomiting in the following way: “Vomiting (known medically as emesis and informally as throwing up and by a number of other terms) is the forceful expulsion of the contents of one’s stomach through the mouth and sometimes the nose.” SOMETIMES THE NOSE!!?? Fuck. Things are pretty fucking dire if puke is coming through your nostrils. You can’t clean that mess up with a toothbrush and toothpaste, that’s for damn sure.

Some people claim not to mind vomiting; we have all heard ‘those people’ posit that tossing cookies is not the worst thing in the world; “Ohhhhh!! But it is wayyyyyy worse to avoid it, you feel so much better when you just get rid of what ever is ailing your guts!” No. Disagree. I mean okay… yes theoretically, I have had those pukes where it happens and I do feel much better in the time following. Those rare few that take very little from your overall well being and  only manage to slow you down for a brief period of time, (“because you have strong stomach”, “a strong will to continue”, etc),  BUT – what about with the flu? How about then? You feel awful, your temperature is elevated, your normally well functioning body can’t decide whether it is really hot or really cold, you shake through incessant boughts of chills and nausea only to ultimately concede to that watery feeling on the back of your tongue. You rush to the closest vestibule (or lean over the edge of the bed, if it is THAT bad), and wretch and gag until you puke up that evenings meal, or acid laden bile, only to lay sweaty and broken, shaken and disturbed, on the cool washroom floor to await your next puke, which is coming down the pipe at you faster than what seems reasonable.You never feel better, only slightly less malaised until you just feel horrible again.

Drinking alcoholic bevies to a point where your stomach responds with an, “unh-uh, no fucking way, my blood is polluted, I can’t fight this battle alone, expel… EXPEL!”, is also terribly unpleasant; not as bad as flu-pukes, but bad nonetheless. You have the spins (the devil created the spins FYI), one foot resting on the floor, watery mouth, you are a hot mess really. You pray at the alter of the porcelin god, or the garbage can on the road, or the road, or all over your freshly washed sheets, in space,  brush your teeth, and then fall into bed, now able to at least burn the evenings libations off to headache status.

All in all I absolutely loathe and deplore throwing up. Throwing up due to the flu (or some equally body taxing ailment like food poisoning) is the worst, but throwing up sober or drunk suck, in equal measure,  balls of a gross and abnormal size.

There are different ‘types’ of pukers. There are the aforementioned non-fussers that don’t seem much bothered by this nightmarish act, and then there are people like me. I will put that shit off. I will try to meditate through it before I will concede to it. I will sip water, pace around, purposefully inhale and exhale, try to focus on something stable, so on and so forth, before I will even consider taking out the trash.

The physiological elements associated with barfing are actually quite fascinating. You should read this wiki article, so at least the next time you puke you will know exactly what is going on inside your vessel. For example: Did you know that the increased salivation production we all experience right before we vomit is the parasympathetic nervous system’s way of protecting the enamel on our teeth? Okay, I had some idea this was the case, but still.

So… What kind of puker are you?

– Sylvia.

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They’re both hungry…

A Cherokee Legend:

An old Cherokee is teaching his grandson about life. “A fight is going on inside me,” he said to the boy.

“It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One is evil – he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.” He continued, “The other is good – he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. The same fight is going on inside you – and inside every other person, too.”

The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, “Which wolf will win?”

The old Cherokee simply replied, “The one you feed.”

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Darling Shel

I can remember my mother reading me The Giving Tree, by Shel Silverstein, when I was very very young. As I grew, I discovered other incredible books by the same author, like The Missing Piece and A Light in the Attic. Do you remember these magical tales? There was something so appealing, so weird and confusing yet wonderfully warm, about the worlds Shel created with his words. He transfixed me, along with countless other kids my age. Grownups, too, I’ve learned, since becoming one myself.

My favourite of all Shel’s books (and yes, we are very much on a first-name basis), was Where the Sidewalk Ends. I was given a copy by a dear family friend at Christmas of 1994, which I fortunately still have. It’s amazing anything at all from my childhood has survived the chaos of my teenage years, the many moves to and from university, the summers away, and the impulsive lending to which I am so prone. But, magically, here it still sits on my bookshelf, providing laughs and inspiration for Sylvia and I. Oh, and our names, too!

See?


(click to enlarge)

As a kid, I was fascinated by Shel, and a little afraid of him, too. The author photo on the back jacket of Sidewalk shows him seated with his legs stretched out towards the camera, feet bare and a guitar in hand, an intense and inscrutable look on his face. Who was this swarthy bearded man who wouldn’t smile while having his picture taken? Where did all of those ideas and people and places and things come from? How could he tell a story that made me laugh, and cry, and learn things, with such simple words and pictures? I never understood how these things were possible but I loved the magician who made them so.

I cried when Shel Silverstein died. His work lives in that certain room in my heart, the one we probably all have, the one that’s full of memory and longing and warmth. And any kids I happen to make in the future will be sure to meet my old friend Shel.

Sarah

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Platoons Soon?

Since I live in a city with transit options (501, what up??) — and I blow all my money on taking taxis to expensive restaurants where I get drunk before going out to see live music — I don’t have a car. I drive so rarely, in fact, that I lost my driver’s license for about six months, and the only reason I noticed it was gone was because this one time I went to the El Mocambo and they asked me for ID (yeee!), and they didn’t want to accept my health card. So I was like, “Sir, I’m 25 and it’s my friend’s CD release party and would you puhleeease examine this here piece of government-issued photo ID and let me IN THE DAMN DOOR I’M MISSING IT!!!” Totally worked. Then, during that heat wave we had in March, I pulled out a spring jacket and found my license in the pocket. Hurray!

But anyways, I can in fact drive, and this past weekend when we went away, I did so. On the trip back we of course hit some nasty traffic, and I started thinking about three things. They’re the same three things I think about every time I’m in traffic, and I think they could be fairly universal.

1. “As long as the traffic going in the other direction is worse than what I’m stuck in, it’s all okay.”

2. “Imagine I had a hovercar or something with rocket launchers … then I could just blast right up and over these other cars and fly to the place just in front of the traffic jam, land, and continue driving on the road.”

3. This. “Why can’t we all just accelerate at the same rate at the same time??” Are these Platoons, aka Automated Highway Systems, the way of the future? They may not be as ideal as hovercrafts, or the spontaneous ability to sprout wings and fly, but I would definitely give ’em a try.

I will leave you with this interesting article about the longest traffic jams in history. And here I thought the DVP during rush hour represented the thirteenth level of hell, but a traffic jam lasting 12 MOTHERFUCKING DAYS in Beijing!!?? No Bueno.

– SC.

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