Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Cranky Book Reviewer Presents: Holiday Music

(Yes, yes, the CBR now does music, too. I am a one-stop cranky person.)

Pet peeves: artists that release one or two really, really good, well-written or arranged Christmas songs and then decide to release a whole album, by filling the rest of it with trock.*

A prime example is the Barenaked Ladies' Barenaked for the Holidays. They have an absolutely gorgeous, unique mashup of "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen/We Three Kings", with Sarah McLachlan. And one or two cute original songs. And a few very low-effort carols with no fancy arrangements or anything even vaguely special about them. And -- the worst! -- a few fillers of someone playing carols on the old Casio, complete with auto-drums and everything. Terrible.

Enter the Best Holiday Album by One Artist in Recent Years and/or Possibly Ever: Sarah McLachlan's Wintersong. It's a beautiful, beautiful compilation of traditional carols re-mixed (for example, she gives "What Child is This?" a new melody) as well as some of my favourite "contemporary" winter songs, like Joni Mitchell's "River" and Gordon Lightfoot's "Song For a Winter's Night", which is the most haunting version I've ever heard. She gets an A+ for originality and all-around awesomeness.

And Merry Christmas, every one.

*Terrible, Rotten, Overly-Crappy Kitch.

Friday, 16 December 2011

Chances are...

So, walking to work this morning, I selected my "Keep It Down" playlist, and put it on shuffle, even though I sort of wanted to hear the first two songs most. (Background: it's a mix of 42 laid-back songs and is delightful.)

The first song to come on was "Alive" by Edwin, which was the first song on the playlist!!!

What are the freaking chances of that?

(1 in 42)

Ok, not crazy/out-there, but still impressive.

But wait!

The next song was "Angie" by the Rolling Stones. Which is the second song on my playlist.


Now, people who are good with stats (anyone remember the Destiny Dice?) would say that it's STILL just 1 in 42, but the way I calculate it (hey, MIT, why don't you return my calls?), to play those two songs in that order, the chances are 1 in 1764.

That's pretty freaking awesome.

And then I thought, there's a better chance that maybe I didn't push "shuffle" after all (1 in 2) and perhaps my awe at life, the universe and everything is really because I'm not very bright and/or coordinated in the morning (1 in 2).

The next song came on, by Blue Rodeo.

Oh well, I thought. There goes the incredible what-are-the-odds moment, as the third song on my playlist is "Bad Timing" by Blue Rodeo (is anyone judging me yet?). Which means that there aren't crazy-huge odds. There are only toe fingers.

But wait! It wasn't "Bad Timing"! It was "Five Days in May"!

So, I stand by my 1 in 1764... which is a powerful square number, being 42 x 42... which makes me think there is some meaning to this life after all...

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Iced: File that one under "Experience"

Much like, say, having a baby or having a second baby, a lot of things out there sound like they'd be really fun, or a really good idea, or totally awesome, but then end up being really, really not awesome at all. In fact, almost everything bad that has happened to me (see above) has started out as a good idea at the time.

This is one of those things.

My coworker, Matt, told me about a "game" that he and his buddies play, in which you hide bottles of Smirnoff Ice. If you come across one of these hidden bottles, you must get down on one knee and chug it, immediately. He said that, the last time they went camping, by the end of the weekend, they were all huddled around the campfire, traumatized, afraid to move in case they found another one.

Don't ask me where the "taking a knee" comes from, but it totally adds to the cachet of this game. Which sounded like the Best Game Ever. And which we have agreed to call "Icing" or "Getting Iced".

I even brought some Ices to work (clinking all the way), and, with the help of my supervisor, planted one in a top-secret briefcase (the kind that comes with a key, but no handcuffs, alas), and set up my coworker to open it. He refused to drink it at work (something about getting fired), but proclaimed us the coolest office on the planet.*

SO, I told my Mystique cottage cohorts about it, and we all agreed that it would be super fun! What a great game! We'd each bring tons of Smirnoff Ice to the cottage weekend in July, hide them about, and let the hilarity ensue!

Fast forward to last weekend, in which I finally Iced Matt for real. It was a quasi-elegant Christmas soiree at my boss's house, and we were all drinking a wee bit (I'd only had 2 1/2 glasses of wine, honest). We tricked Matt into grabbing something out of my bag... and lo and behold, it was a nicely-chilled Ice. I must say that he rose to the occasion, took a knee, and chugged it forthwith. It was quite impressive, really.

Until it was time to go home. Chris and I had our coats on, saying our goodbyes, and Matt handed my bag back. He said, "Are you sure it's yours? Does it have your stuff in it?"

Yup, an Ice. Down I went. And ... sipped it embarrassingly, with my pinky in the air. I can't even chug water (probably due to an overactive epiglottis**) so I did what I could. I made it through about a third of that sucker, pausing way too briefly between each dainty sip, before I was rescued - due to pity or disgust I don't know, but it was the worst third of a drink I have ever drank. It was TERRIBLE. It is NOT a fun game.

Five minutes later, I felt like I had done 6 shots. I babbled to Chris the whole way home, and forgot to drink water before I went to bed. The next morning, I was dry-mouthed, slightly nauseous, and headachey.

But I vow, and I vow it publicly: this is not over. It is NOT a fun game, but it's a game I intend to win.

* Still have them. My snack drawer clinks suspiciously, but I keep them just in case.

** I've never had it professionally tested (by an epiglottiologist, of course), but I wonder if an official diagnosis would count as a disability? "I am epiglottically challenged".

Thursday, 1 December 2011

Thirty Days (too many) Hath Movember

What. A. Month.

How many days can one go without kissing the man one is married to, even if he resides in the same house and he sleeps in the same bed and one sees him every day?

Thirty, if he's sporting a mustache. Especially one that looks like this:


It's not even an ironic mustache anymore. It was cropped to military standards the day after the original (and ridiculous) photos were taken, and it just looked like a Very Serious Mustache, and made Chris look Very Serious all the time. Which is no fun.

Often he would say things, and I would respond with, "That's just The Mustache talking. You don't really mean that." And he would say, "No, I really mean it." And I would say, "Quiet, Mustache. I want to talk to Chris now."

All this to say that Movember has been very challenging on all sides. It must be hard to live with someone who won't kiss you and mocks your manly upper lip at every possible opportunity, even though she thinks she's funny...

But huzzah! To everyone's delight (except for Vaughn's; he thought it was a grand mustache), it was shaved off this morning, and Chris looks like my Handsome Prince again.

Prostate cancer received a nifty donation, of course. Aside from that, lettuce forget this ever happened... for the next eleven months or so.