Monthly Archives: April 2009

Why I'm Thankful I Live in Ontario

Five words: being off on Good Friday.  All together now — “Sweet”!  Almost monthly long weekends are surely God’s way of smiling down on the awesomeness that is Canada. 

I’ll be attempting to do some serious chillaxin on my day off by playing here, staying here and seeing this.  Oh, and border jumping so I can drop a wad o’cash here (!).  Full post-trip report forthcoming so start getting excited now.  😉

Also, since when did pirates become en vogue again?  Do they wear eye patches and have hooks for hands?  I don’t get it.

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Totally F****d!

Photo courtesy of Strandlighting.com

Photo courtesy of Strandlighting.com

I’ve seen a lot of theatre in my day (wow, how old does that make me sound?). I first saw The King and I at the Music Hall in Houston when I was just a wee tyke. I was absolutely mesmerized watching Yul Brenner sing “Getting to Know You” with the brightly colored costumes and vibrant stage. And the fact that the actors were right there. Right. There. I was hooked.

Seeing The King and I started a love affair with the stage that remains even today. In addition to King, I’ve seen Mamma Mia, The Lion King, We Will Rock You, The Sound of Music, The Phantom of the Opera (in London’s West End), Chicago (Swoon! both the stage and film versions), Les Miserables, 42nd Street, Oklahoma, Rent (on film – that counts, right?), Hairspray (on film – ditto), Cats and Wicked. I loved every one of them, although I don’t really remember Les Mis because I slept through half of it 😉  This weekend, though, I’m fairly certain I saw what may be the single best production upon which I’ve ever laid my eyes. Prior to the invtation to see the show, I’d never even heard of it. It apparently won eight Tony Awards in 2007 (no small task) and has been playing right under my nose in Toronto since March! I just chalk that oversight up to head. in. sand.

spring-awakening4The show is called Spring Awakening and is based on a Frank Wedekind play written in the late 1800’s of the same name. Wedekind’s plays were banned in his lifetime and were considered scandalous for the time as they dealt with such “racy” topics as puberty, sex, sexual freedoms, abuse, and death.  Sounds pretty heavy, but I can assure you that a) the writing is contemporary enough that it’s relevant even today and b) this musical is the most delicious, amazing, tremendous fabulously well-made thing ever conceived! 

The music is written by Duncan Sheik — yes, that  Duncan Sheik.  You remember…the guy from the mid-90’s who you used to sing in the shower but pretended to ignore while you were toking out to Nirvana and trying to be hip rocking the required grunge uniform of flannel shirt and cargo pants.  Well, Duncan pulled the wool over all of our eyes because what he did with Spring Awakening was simply brilliant! 

The Toronto show was at the Canon Theatre (gorgeous) and I was sitting second row dead center, so I got to take in all the “raciness” up close and personally.  I thought it was fantastic seeing such liberating dialogue on stage, but I’m not sure the elderly citizens of Toronto the Good sitting around me were as amused. 

spring-awakening-22The stage décor was so cool, the band was young, dressed in street clothes and sitting on stage, and they also sat a few audience members on stage, too!  Someone please buy me those tickets!  The show is raucous, toe-tapping and prodigious. And the music…THE MUSIC!!  I could not get home fast enough to download the soundtrack; I haven’t stopped listening to it since so if you hear me belting out “Don’t Do Sadness”, you’ll know why. 😉  My favorite numbers are “The Bitch of Living, “I Believe”, “Don’t Do Sadness/Blue Wind”, and my very favorite “Totally F****d”!  Yeah, it’s what you think it is, but you have to see the show to get the significance.  This you should do, post haste if you ask me.  They even sell T-shirts that say “Totally F****d” on the back.  Too much awesome.  I loved it so much that I actually bought tickets to see it a second time before it closes on April 19! 

I’ll stop gushing now.  This show is simply stunning — I cannot say enough excellent things about Spring Awakening.  Sell your car, your house, your left arm, your first born child — whatever you have to sell to in order to buy a ticket.  Just go see it — and quickly!

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Caution: May Inspire Kindness

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Photo courtesy of DailyChallenge.com

A few weeks ago, I started seeing tweets of monolithic proportions with the hash tag #pibTO.  (For my friends who aren’t familiar with either Twitter or hash tag  <gasp> — you know who you are — look it up!).  Pay It Backward Toronto, or #pibTO in Twitter speak, was an event being put on by Daily Challenge, a local social network for do-gooders.  The idea was to show up at Second Cup on Queen and John Streets and buy a drink for the person – wait for it – in line behind you!  The best part?  100% of the proceeds would benefit Sick Kids Hospital.  All kinds of goodness!

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Photo courtesy of DailyChallenge.com

What is Pay It Backward day, you ask?  On an early Wednesday morning in December 2007, a woman (natch) at a Starbucks’ drive-thru in Seattle offered to buy the drink for the customer in line behind her, leaving with it just a simple wish of “happy holidays”.  From this first random act of kindness at 8:00am on Wednesday began a chain of 489 more until 8:00am the next morning.  Stranger after stranger did their part to spread the kindness in the drive-thru and the lobby. Together, they set the unofficial “Pay It Backward” world record of 490 acts of kindness done within a 24 hour period. 

Fast forward to April 4, 2009.  The Daily Challenge team, with help from Toronto’s social media world, decided that our fair city could easily break that record. 

Toronto had torrential downpours the night before the event – as a matter of fact, we broke a 60 year-old rain record — and after the downpour came 70 km/h winds.  I thought no way are people going to go.  But at around 2pm when I finally made it to Second Cup, 244 other people had already shown.  Sweet! The buzz in the air was palpable.  I signed up for my number, got in line, chatted with the people around me, got a medium Earl Grey tea from the very kind person in front of me, bought the very kind person behind me a medium coffee, chatted with my fellow Twits, gave props to the organizers and headed off. 

pay-it-backward-toronto-0062When I happened by about two hours later, the #pibTO line was even longer and everyone was anticipating that the record was about to be broken.  I was at home about 20 minutes later and saw “the” tweet — Toronto had done it!  We had officially crossed the 600 person mark and had broken the world-record for coffee acts of kindness.  Awesome!

I’m so damn proud to have been part of something as cool as Pay It Backward day!  Not only did I get to buy something for a complete stranger – which I realized I’d never actually done before – but got to do something that would greatly benefit an amazing organization like Sick Kids Hospital.   

Everyone knows how much I’m in love with Toronto.  The spirit in this city is absolutely unyielding.  Its oft-mocked moniker of “Toronto the Good” may make some people cringe, but in my opinion, it’s never been more apt than this weekend.  Swoon! 

See the rest of my photos from Pay It Backward Toronto here.

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Dear Universe, Was It Something I Said?

pay-it-backward-toronto-011The last four weeks or so have been very tough on me, both personally and professionally.  Various and sundry things seemed to collide into the perfect storm and I’ve had to deal with a lot of shite at once. Let me just say that moving to, and living in, another country is no easy task.  Add to that owning a home while living in another country, dealing with banks and finances in two countries and two currencies, filing taxes in two countries, finding a new place to live, and other fun “life” stuff, and you have a very stressed-out girl.  For those of you who prefer to stay sane and/or keep all of your hair, I don’t recommend it.  😉 

I’m normally a very active person, and am usually out and about living life, but because I’ve been more fatigued than normal, I’ve been spending more time at home.  Way too much time.  Too much time to surf the web (but, a-hem, not blog, for lack of creative juices), watch copious amounts of reality television, and gain five pounds from my experimentation with becoming a couch-potato.  My mea culpa? For any of you whom I’ve inadvertently email ambushed from the frequent web-surfing or not returned your phone call or made you endure hours of endless whining, let me just say…I’M SORRY!  Seriously.  I am. 

I’m not sure what I said or what I did to deserve this round of bad luck.  I thought things only happened in threes, not eights.  Did I spill salt somewhere?  Did I put an umbrella over my head inside?  Did I unknowingly walk under a ladder?  I know I haven’t broken any mirrors, so what?  What is it?!  Whatever it is, I take it back.  All of it.  

Please, universe, please give me a break sometime soon.  I could really, really, really use it. 

Kthxbai.

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I (finally) Rolled Up My First Rim

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A coffee drinker I am not.  I much prefer tea or, on a really cold winter night, a rich, gooey cup of hot chocolate with marshmellows, natch.  In Canada, though, it’s difficult to avoid the ubiquitous institution known as Tim Horton’s.  Tim Horton’s is basically a coffee and donut shop, although they also serve sandwiches and soups.  There are more than 2,500 Tim Horton’s across Canada and to say that you are always within walking distance of one of their establishments would be a gross understatement.  No matter what time of day or night, there is a line to get coffee.  I personally think that the coffee is spiked with something that has millions of Canadians addicted to the “regular” (one sugar, one cream) or the “double double” (two sugars, two creams).  Because it has permeated the lexicon of Canadians everywhere, “double double” even has an entry in the Canadian Oxford Dictionary.  Seriously.

To their credit, Tim Horton’s does have very clever, creative and community-focused marketing campaigns.  One of their most popular promotions is “Roll Up the Rim to Win” , an annual campaign where buying a medium-sized or larger coffee gives you the chance to “roll up the rim” on one of their cups and win anything from a free donut to a new car.  The promo even has its own website, inclusive of tips on becoming a “master roller”.  “Roll Up the Rim to Win” is such a part of Canadian culture that the main character in the film “One Week”, about which I’ve previously blogged, even rolls up a rim – on film!  

As I’m neither a coffee drinker nor Canadian, I never paid much attention to the promotion, really.  Until now.  I realized that since I’m in my last year of Canadian living, I’d better roll up a rim and check that off my “Canada-to-do” list.  So, I did some thumb exercises, flattened out the rim and rolled that bad boy up.  Check!

Needless to say, I didn’t win anything.  And, I had to endure the nearly-scorched taste that is Tim Horton’s coffee.   But rolling up my first rim sure was cool.  Way cool, really.  

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