shanmonster: (Tiger claw)
"Why Ancient Greece Was Awful": This was the title of a lecture I recently attended, hosted by a historical association. As a classics civilization major in university, the topic intrigued me. The lecturer introduced himself and announced that the topics he'd be covering included coarse language and sexual themes. A mother and child excused themselves. Another woman followed shortly afterward. The lecturer looked crestfallen. I attempted to assuage him. "I'm not afraid of a few swears," I said, "and I'm a classics graduate." He didn't look soothed.

He had a nervous tic where he slapped the sides of his legs simultaneously. This he did so regularly that he looked like he was trying to fly away. He put me to mind of Bubo from the original Clash of the Titans movie. It was distracting and annoying, but I wanted to hear what he had to say.

He opened by asking us to name some of the things that were great about ancient Greece.

"Olive oil," I said. Other people chimed in. "Democracy." "The Olympics." "Theatre." "Acoustics." "Art." "Marble."

He looked startled. "Yes," he said. "All of those things are great. You are doing much better than I would."

This perplexed me. How could someone lecturing on the ancient Greeks not be able to list a few positive traits about ancient Greece? Then he told us his area of expertise wasn't ancient Greece at all, but early modern English theatre (ie. Shakespeare and his contemporaries). He said he didn't actually know much about the time period aside from what he'd learned in a seminar on Athens. Now I was thoroughly boggled. Why would he be talking about something he admitted to knowing little about? This was especially bizarre considering there was a decent chance that at least half of the people in his audience had a solid education in ancient Greek history. We were at a historical conference, after all.

He told us he'd read some plays by Euripedes, who had written extensively on the disenfranchised people of ancient Greece. Now, if he'd stuck to the points of views of these characters from the plays of Euripedes, he may have had a thesis. But instead, we were subjected to what would essentially be an unplotted, unthought-out rant like you might expect to read in YouTube comments.

He said that the ancient Greeks didn't refer to their country as Greece at all, but he didn't bother telling his audience what they did refer to themselves as: Hellenes. He posited that it was acceptable to judge this culture by our current culture's standards. He then made many objectionable, if not outright incorrect, points:
  • People who study ancient Greece are unusual in that they all consider ancient Greece to be the pinnacle of human existence, and they all believe the ancient Greeks could do no wrong. As a classics graduate, I honestly have never come across anyone who believes everything in ancient Greece was sunshine and roses. I mean, c'mon! They poisoned poor Socrates!

  • The ancient Greeks had no sense of morality. I think it's pretty safe to presume the speaker has never heard of arete. And there are all sorts of moral virtues which crop up again and again in Greek writings: hospitality, loyalty, honour, glory, justice, wisdom, revenge on the battlefield, the importance of family, and temperance are some classic (heh) examples.

  • The only ideal for men was to be a hyperaggressive, violent, rapist (such as Herakles or Zeus). This notwithstanding the high esteem with which the Greek philosophers, orators, and Homer were held. To be able to recite The Iliad and The Odyssey by heart was proof of great standing.

  • The ancient Greeks were into slavery more than other cultures. Uhh....

  • Slavery no longer exists in western culture. Several indignant people called him on this. He backed down somewhat, amending his statement by saying, "Ok, there are no legal forms of slavery in Western culture now." I immediately said, "Prison labour." He flapped his hands on his legs a few times, then pretended I'd said nothing at all.

  • The ancient Greeks were all child molesters. While pederasty was widely accepted, in Athens, consent was more important than age. That being said, the Athenians did believe there was such a thing as too young, and too young to give consent. (More here).

  • The advent of Christianity stopped pedophilia. There was a widespread "Uhhhhh...." emitted by the audience at this point. His arms flapped and flapped and he flew away to his next point without elucidation.

  • The way women were treated in ancient Greece had no counterpart. Although the ancient Greeks were pretty darned misogynistic, they were certainly not alone in this regard.

  • No Greek women were allowed to have jobs. At least in Rome, women could be prostitutes Roman women could do a lot more than that, but that's beside the point. But if we use that as a baseline, well, there were plenty of female sex workers in ancient Greece, including pornai and hetairai. It has been posited that the hetairai, along with being independent workers who could potentially save up enough to own property, were also intellectual elites. Highly-educated, they held their own in symposia alongside foremost Greek philosophers.

  • Women were never portrayed as dominant or equal to men. Medea kicked Jason's ass, and the Amazons were a force to contend with.

    14th-century depiction of riding Aristotle

  • Aside from in Sparta, no women had property. The hetaira Phryne was said to be so rich that she offered to fund the rebuilding of the walls of Thebes.

  • Women were completely uneducated, and there were no women writers. I immediately burst out with "Lesbos. Sappho." He flapped his hands on his pants a couple of times and just soldiered on.

  • No Greek women had positions of authority. The words of the Delphic Oracle could make or break a powerful man. And despite ruling in Egypt, Cleopatra was Greek.

    Elizabeth Taylor as Cleopatra

  • Greek women held no power in the home. "What about Penelope in The Odyssey?" I asked. She wouldn't have been able to hold off her suitors if she'd had absolutely no power. He slapped his legs again. "I've never read The Odyssey," he said.

  • The ancient Greeks were more racist than any other culture. They definitely didn't hold a monopoly on xenophobia.

  • That the ancient Greeks had no real religion. The Hellenes had religions out their wazoos. I don't even know where to begin, so here's an encyclopaedia entry on the topic: Ancient History Encylopedia: Greek Religion.

  • The world became a much better place thanks to Christianity. This is a whole kettle of fish I didn't bother jumping into. There was a religious history graduate in the audience who tore him a new one in this regard, plus another audience member who called him on his obvious biases.

  • That if Christianity hadn't replaced the beliefs of the ancient Greeks, Norse religions would have certainly become the religion of western civilization. Considering the inroads made by Mongols throughout Europe, I think they stood a decent chance of disseminating their religious beliefs. Not to mention there were plenty of other religions amongst indigenous peoples which could have become more influential.

  • The culture of the ancient Greeks has absolutely no bearing on current religion/culture/etc. in the western world. Even Jesus Christ's name is Greek. Aside from that, we still have the Olympics, the Hippocratic oath, feta cheese and souvlaki, a rather lot of words, tragedy, comedy, iambic pentameter, and the concept of history. And on the negative side of influences, well, misogyny is a Greek word, and it sure does still exist.

I graduated with my classics degree way back in 1994. I could have given a better talk on the downsides of Greek history without even brushing up. Heck, I'll betcha almost everyone in that classroom could have. So why on earth didn't he talk about early English theatre instead? Then again, English drama was my other major. I just might have caught him talking another steaming pile of shit there, too.
shanmonster: (Tiger claw)
- Course was solid, over all. Challenging hills, and a good length.
- Australian back crawl was a great obstacle. The hill leading to it was an obstacle itself. Though I have good, strong legs, I had to work them hard to make it through this one. Challenging, and the risk factor was not too high for those who had to really struggle to do it.
- The long, uphill tubes were another challenge. I imagined I was Bishop in Alien as I crept/slid my way through them. Lots of upper body strength necessary to make it through this one. Definitely not for the claustrophobic or those with great big butts. I could see a large person getting good and wedged. I found it a tight squeeze.
- The long, twisting, uneven trail through the forest. This was my favourite part. The downside is the trail is narrow and it was a bottleneck point because there were few places where people could squeeze to the side to allow faster runners to pass. That being said, I found my way and sprinted through the woods, while the vast majority appeared to take it at a snail's pace.
- There was a fire pit close to the finish line where racers could get warmed up.

- We arrived in plenty of time for my 11 am heat, but the parking lot was full. We were told by the attendant to drive all the way back to Best Buy and park in that parking lot. Shuttles were leaving from there regularly. I thought this was weird. The parking lot at Best Buy is not huge, so overflow from Bad Ass Dash would surely take all their customer parking spaces. Still, we drove back and parked there. There were about ten of us waiting, in all. A couple of the guys had been there at least 15 minutes and had seen no shuttles. We waited at least a half hour and no shuttles came. Finally, one of the women drove us back to the site, because she didn't want her kids to miss their run or to see their Dad run. When we got back to the site, parking was available, but at $20. Emails told us parking was $10. Not cool. And no, shuttles were not being sent to Best Buy, but to a parking lot somewhere a few blocks behind Best Buy. We'd all been given incorrect information.
- The registration line was horrendously long, and being shunted into a building through a narrow doorway. We waited well over an hour to get my racing kit. They needed a LOT more people processing contestants.
- Several obstacles were removed by the time I ran. Some had no one there, and no explanation of what to do, so no one did them. One of the water stations had no water by the time I got there. Good thing it wasn't a hot day.
- I saw no places where people could shower or get hosed off.
- Post-race snacks included a giant tray of loose crackers. Uhh, everyone is COVERED in mud. No one wants to reach into crackers when covered in mud. This was a strange and bad choice for food.

I realize there's an element of danger in these races, but this is the first time I felt so paranoid of injury at an event. For this, I give this set of cons its own section.
- Pontoon bridge obstacle. This was problematic for a couple of reasons. First of all, it was the absolute worst bottleneck point in the entire race. I'm fairly sure I was stuck in line for this obstacle for a solid half hour. The reason there was such a bottleneck is because it was extremely unlikely anyone could do this obstacle quickly, and only two people could go at one time. Floating plastic cubes were tethered together in a very unstable bridge across a stream of unknown depth. I'm not sure even one person made it across on their feet. The chances of smashing your head off a pontoon while falling were high. The water appeared to be deep, and was so muddy that the bottom could not be seen. If anyone went under, no one would be able to see where they were. As I came up on my turn, I turned to a couple of the volunteers and asked, "How deep is the water?" They laughed and said, "Oh, 6 feet. No, thirty feet!" I said, "I ask because my asthma is bothering me, I cannot float, and water pressure on my chest often makes my asthma flare up suddenly."

That's when they realized I was asking for a damned good reason. But they still didn't know how deep it was.

I looked at it again, and figured I could probably belly creep my way across, and if I fell, I had to fall to the left where I could see a rope I could pull myself with if necessary. Even belly creeping was difficult. I made it. Just.

I don't think there was a life guard posted at this obstacle where there was a serious risk of drowning if someone fell off and bumped their head.
- Scaling wall with a rope. This sort of obstacle is normally one of my favourites. A rope hangs from the top of a tall wall. You grab the rope and walk up the side of the wall. The other side can be descended in a similar fashion. So I thought, "I've got this," and I walked on up the wall, piece of cake. On the other side, I slid my body down a bit, got a firm grab on the rope, and ... THE ROPE WAS NOT ATTACHED TO THE TOP. There was a lot of slack on that rope. I went into a straight fall down the wall, scraping the shit out of my elbow and giving my first-ever scream of terror at an obstacle race. Fortunately, I'm tall and hit the ground before the rope caught up suddenly. I kept my knees soft and landed ok. However, I heard someone else dislocated their shoulder on this obstacle. I'm not surprised. Someone shorter than me would've been caught up suddenly on that rope. Jebus.
- Mixed grouping of adults with children. For some bizarre reason, the 7-13 year old contestants had a shared course with the competitive adults. This was terribly dangerous, in my opinion. On some of the obstacles, a 200-lb adult falling, losing their grip, or losing control could result in pretty devastating injuries to another adult, let alone a 50-lb kid. The absolute worst was at the...
- Slip and Slide. When I saw kids were going down the same high speed slip and slide obstacle event as adults, I stopped and said, "ARE YOU SHITTING ME?" Of course, people weren't exactly taking turns and making sure the area was clear before jumping on. I moved to the side furthest away from the most kids and sat on my ass. At first, I didn't slide too well, but then the speed came from nowhere. It was like I'd been shot from a cannon. When I realized I'd lost all control, I immediately laid down on my back, arched my back up, and raised my head in an attempt to slow my speed, increase stability, and minimize damage to myself. I shot past the end of the tarps and kept going full speed for a good 30' or so. This was the second time I've screamed at an obstacle. There were people whizzing past me at high velocity. It was like a firing range where the guns are shooting out bullets made of soft muscle and breakable bones. [ profile] knightky had been watching this obstacle. He saw numerous injuries, some from people wiping out, but even more terrifying, some from people hitting big rocks at the end of the tarp.

I don't know what the injury tally would be at this event, but it had to have been high.

I saw a few people in slings. But worst of all, at the end of the race, I saw a pallid, dead-looking man being rushed to an ambulance on a gurney while paramedics administered CPR on the run. Someone else saw someone being rushed away on a gurney with an oxygen mask. I don't know what happened to them. Maybe a heart attack, which could happen at any time, really. But maybe they were lost in the mud water? I don't know.

I won't be doing this race again. The clusterfuck of the beginning was bad enough, but the unnecessarily dangerous obstacles are the clincher.

I sure hope those men are ok.

[Bottom of slip and slide]
shanmonster: (Purple mohawk)
If you're not familiar with Oscar Wilde's story of Salome, here's my quick and dirty spoiler:

Spoiled rotten princess becomes infatuated with a Christian prophet who spouts of bunch of yo momma jokes. Prophet spurns her and she has a conniption. Princess's stepfather, a powerful tetrarch, has the hots for the princess, and she takes advantage of this to get the prophet's head served to her on a silver platter. She makes out with the head.

I attended the Canadian Opera Company's performance of Strauss's opera last night. This performance was directed by Atom Egoyan. My opinions are mixed. Parts of the opera are brilliant. Parts of it are so lacking in subtlety that it was like being repetitively hammered with overt symbolism and visual puns. I get that at the climax, Salome gets Joachaan's head. But was it necessarily to neatly bookend the piece with the captain of the guard getting head at the beginning? Really? Especially considering his obsessive infatuation with Salome, why the heck was he having hanky panky with that other woman, anyhow? It just doesn't make any sense at all.

I understand that the director was trying to show the motivations of Salome, why she turned into a bloodthirsty necrophile. But I think that the depictions of her abuse were heavy-handed and out of place with the rest of the story. The dance of the seven veils scene was a weird montage of images of sylph-like innocence and ballerinas in a forest mixed with a nifty, disorienting shadow play of a gang rape. No, I get that the tetrarch wanted to bang Salome. But her consensuality is the major crux of the whole sordid tale. If the tetrarch didn't care about her consent in the first place, the story just wouldn't work. If he didn't require her consent, he'd never have made that deal with her. He just would've raped her whenever he pleased and Joachaan would've continued languishing in the dungeon.

Overall, blocking was solid, but there were a few times when it just didn't work for those of us sitting in the nosebleed section. Screen projections just weren't viewable, and when actors were at the back of the stage, I couldn't see their heads.

Inexplicably, the captain of the guard wore a suit which was way too big for him. I don't know what's up with that.

Other than these things, I think the show was brilliant. The orchestra was magnificent. I loved the simple colour symbolism of the show. White, black, and red clothing and props were used to excellent effect. I don't have the program, so I don't know who played which part, but the stand-out roles were of the Tetrarch (amazing stage presence and a wonderful voice) and Salome herself (some excellent physical theatre, and she can hit high notes and hold them even when she's doubled up or crumpled upon the stage). The climactic scene of Salome with the head of Joachaan was excellently presented, and the blood on the white dress worked well to tie in the problematic earlier scene of the sexual assault.
shanmonster: (Dance Monkey Dance!)
It's been a hectic couple of weeks filled with dance.

First of all, I attended a workshop with Daniel Lepkoff. For the first time in all my years of dance training, I quit the workshop early and asked for a partial refund. The workshop was called Making and Seeing Dance, and I was under the mistaken impression it would be about creating dance from improvisation. Instead, it was an extremely slow-paced class that appeared to focus more upon meditation than dance. I learned a rolling technique that is somewhat interesting, but I think that's the only thing I took away from two and a half days of workshop. On the third day before 12:30, we managed to do two exercises. One was basically us moving very slowly for five minutes. The other was us going somewhere for 30 minutes and keeping perfectly still.

Although I can understand the value of stillness in dance, as an audience member, I would never want to watch a dancer remain motionless for half an hour. If I want to see stillness, I'll go to a figure drawing class.

And so I left.

That same weekend hosted the Ontario Regional Contact Improv Jam. I am very new to contact improv, having only tried it once before. That time, I left early because I was nauseated and thought I was coming down with a flu. It ends up that no, I wasn't ill. I was nauseated because of all the rolling and basically had motion sickness. After doing the whirling workshop with Ziya Azazi a while back, I seem to have overcome motion sickness due to dance. I participated in workshops/classes all weekend without even once becoming dizzy or nauseated.

[Contact Improv dancers]

I found the contact dance training very interesting. I enjoyed the improvisation and the organic nature of the dance. I like how one move will flow into another without forethought, based on the sensation of the moment. I learned how to do basic lifts, and was also lifted many times throughout the weekend. Friday night introduced me to different contact techniques, so not just rotating around one axis of contact, but using that contact for sloughing and brushing in order to change levels.

On Saturday, I attended a contact dance for newbies class, and picked up a lot more basics. In the afternoon, I worked one on one with a variety of experienced dancers and got more valuable feedback. On Sunday, I did a workshop on authentic movement and contact dance. While I still couldn't tell you what "authentic movement" is (I thought everything I was moving was pretty real), I was able to put into words a basic concept I'd never really considered before:
How you move is very much a part of who you are.
This is something I think I've pretty much always known, but never defined. I mean, any time I've played a character, whether on stage or at a larp, they've all had different ways of moving. And I've always noted the different ways people walk. But while I was doing the exercises at that last workshop, I worked with my eyes closed with a few different people, and noted how incredibly differently each person moves. One woman very obviously had a strong yoga background, and her movements flowed like asanas. One man had a kickboxing background, and his movements were sharp, precise, and almost violent. My own movements were fluid, because of my own dance background.

I didn't participate in the large jams going on, because I am much more interested in dance for performance rather than as pure experience. I personally think couples and triplets look more interesting than a big mash of dozens of people. I'd love to have one or two people to practice with so we could develop a performance piece.

Then came the training I've been most looking forward to all year: the workshop with Louise LeCavalier, who is one of my all-time favourite dancers. I learned a couple of things over my two days with her:
  • I'm in much better shape than I thought.
  • I still suck at choreography

Louise is much tinier than I had imagined. I think she might be only a smidgen over five feet tall, which makes it even more impressive how she tosses her dance partners around. She is also much friendlier than I imagined. She is a really sweet, friendly, and thoughtful person. Though she was teaching about 60 people each day, she knew each of us by name and offered individual feedback, praise, and corrections.

We started each day by running laps: running forward, backward, sideways. She was strict about our running technique, ensuring we ran in a relaxed fashion, and paid close attention to our breathing techniques. We started with inhaling through our noses on four steps, and exhaling through our mouths for four steps. As we got hotter, we inhaled on a three count and exhaled on a two count. Afterwards, we did some intense cardio training with more drills (done twice):

  • Run forward four steps, spin and run backward four steps, then touch the floor to our side before doing a grapevine at speed in the other direction and touching the floor. Repeat for one minute.
  • Chassé at speed one way, touch the floor, and chassé to the other side and touch the floor. Repeat for one minute.
  • Running in place with knees high for four counts, then leaping up high leading with left arm, leading with right, then with both arms. Repeat for one minute.
  • Balance on one foot with other leg held high behind us, bending forward at the hip and swinging arms at speed for four counts, then switching to other foot. Repeat for one minute

Afterward, we did a few more running drills, a pile of burpees, and then went through a series of boxing drills. We worked on jabs, rights, uppercuts, and hooks. This was familiar territory for me, although the stances are quite different from what I'm used to in my own martial arts training. Although the stances may make sense from a strictly boxing perspective, I couldn't help but think they'd be disastrous for any situation in which you might get kicked. In any case, it was interesting. I don't think most of the dancers in the workshop had martial arts backgrounds, but they picked up the basics quickly.

The last part of the workshop was devoted to a piece of choreography by Edouard Lock. It was unlike any other dance I'd ever studied before with its tiny, precise hand gestures and leaps. I got pretty lost, and could only really remember the gross movements. I followed along as best I could, but everything was so tiny and fast that I could only just keep up.

It's easy to see how all the boxing and cardio drills fit into her dancing. Although we weren't punching, the movements had the same feel and flavour, and there were elements of the bob and weave in the short choreography we practiced.

On the second day, many of the other students (most much younger than me, and all very fit) were moaning and groaning in pain from delayed onset muscle soreness. I was pleased to discover I was only a little sore through my lats from the uppercuts, but otherwise, I was just fine. I couldn't help but feel a bit smug. Huzzah for being in great shape!

That being said, I still had to take a huff off my asthma puffer during the cardio section on day two.

Louise is really inspiring, and I wish I could train with her regularly. Despite being worked very hard, and me sweating more than I have in years, I didn't leave the classes exhausted. I left exhilarated.

And here we are, all frizzy and sweaty at the end of the workshop:

[Louise LeCavalier and me]

Tomorrow I start my third session of contemporary dance with Kymberley Feltham. I'm looking forward to it.
shanmonster: (Default)
Over the weekend, I did a whirlwind workshop with Ziya Azazi on whirling. Yes, I spent hours studying how to spin and spin, in a fashion somewhat similar to that of the Sufi dervishes. But unlike the dervishes, I did my spinning in a non stationary way, and not for the glory of Allah.

Day one was difficult due to environmental issues. Toronto was very cold, and the dance studio we were using was similarly frigid. We could see our breath, drafts of subzero air floated down from a window that wouldn't shut tight, and the very hard floor felt like a curling rink. Considering the "warm up" consisted of relaxation and flexibility work on the floor, we were in a sad state. My muscles, already tight and seized up from being out in the cold, were not about to loosen up in this environment. And indeed, I did get a Charlie horse.

After a while, the heat did kick in, and the room was a striation of blasting hot air and trickling icy drafts. Dancing in there was like having menopause, with all its hot and cold flashes.

I feel sorry for anyone who has to train at the OIP Studios on a regular basis.

With warm patches of floor finally showing up, we could finally relax into our work. We went through a thorough stretching warmup which gradually evolved into rolling movements. We tumbled about on the floor, sometimes logrolling, and sometimes end over end in somersaults. The movements got taller. We came to our feet and spiraled around the room, our reference points constantly changing. Sometimes we looked up. Sometimes we were face down on the floor, but we didn't stop moving in a spiral fashion.

I began to feel queasy. I continued moving, but not nearly as quickly. My upset stomach was becoming harder and harder to ignore. And the constant vacillation between broiling hot air and icy air was not helping. But I persevered.

One of the reasons I chose to take this workshop is because I have a problem with turning. Barrel turns, in particular, make me almost instantly dizzy. I thought that doing this workshop would shed some insight on this problem.

It did. It also revealed an even bigger problem: extreme nausea.

The session ended with upright whirling. I started spinning widdershins, and once I found a steady fast pace, I managed not to feel overly nauseated. It didn't feel like I was spinning, but that the world around me was. At first, I had to focus on my own hand as a stationary reference point, but after a while, I was able to use my thousand yard stare instead. I spun for about ten minutes, and then it was time for me to go.

The next day, we started again with the same warmup, but this time in the vastly superior studios of the Children's Dance Theatre. The floors were warm, not too hard, and the room was uniformly heated.

But for whatever reason, I felt even more stiff than I had the day before. My muscles were much slower to relax, and when we began the tumbling exercises, I felt queasy right away. I spoke with Ziya about this problem, and he told me it was my mind's way of rebelling against something it found uncomfortable. He said it was sending signals for me to stop what I was doing, because it did not understand, and that the only way to counteract this was to keep on going. And that if I did throw up, it was no big deal. That I should just get right back into it, and eventually my brain would realize this blackmailing attempt would not work, and it would give up on trying it.

He told us to use all our senses: sight, hearing, smell, taste, touch... He never mentioned vestibular sense, and that was the one causing the most grief. But I kept plugging along, feeling sicker and sicker, getting frustrated with myself for not being above this nausea. I mean, when I was a little girl, I used to spin and spin until I felt dizzy and fell down giggling and high. So how come now it just made me want to puke?

And then we started our upright whirling again. I started spinning, hoping for the nausea-free sensation I'd experienced the day before. But I had no such luck. I began to feel increasingly sick. I slowed my spinning down until I was tottering in a slow, wobbly circle. And then I stopped. Ziya came over and stroked my arms, telling me it was ok, and to think of smells and tastes instead of dizziness. I imagined fresh pineapple, with its tart acidity. It helped a little bit. But then he mentioned chicken curry, and my guts said Oh Hell No! And off I bolted to the bathroom to puke.

A couple of minutes later, I came back, determined to keep spinning. Ziya had brought out dervish-style skirts for us to wear. I put one on and began to spin. The skirt caught the air and bloomed about me like a huge flower. I kept spinning, but then I realized the skirt was a bit too long for me, and was getting wrapped up in my legs. Ziya came back over and said he'd fix it for me. I stopped spinning altogether. This was a mistake. All of a sudden, I was galloping to the bathroom again, the skirts all gathered up in my arms. I barely made it in time, and the rest of my breakfast left my system.

I went back, and we took a break and talked for about a half hour. And then I decided to spin one last time.

And this time it worked. My nausea was completely gone. The whirl of colours was not upsetting. I was inside a kaleidoscope. I could smell fresh air from the ventilation. I could feel the bursts of air from the skirts of the dancers spinning around me. It felt wonderful. My smile began to bloom like those skirts. I began to experiment with the spins, moving my arms as I whirled, dancing patterns with my hips, my fingers, and my chest. I let my focus go in to the tip of my nose, then out to the other dancers and the walls. I kept whirling and looked up to the ceiling, and down to the floor. I tilted my head to the side.

Ziya began whirling, too, and spun patterns around us and between us. I felt like part of a giant whirling fractal. I began to move around the room, lifting and lowering my arms in patterns so as not to crash into the other spinners. All was joy.

I did it.

I watch Ziya perform on Friday. I'm really looking forward to it. He is a lovely man and an inspiring teacher.
shanmonster: (Dance Monkey Dance!)
Although I appreciate the concept of "Canadianizing" the tale, the performance seemed more like an uninspiring game of charades than a ballet. I do not fault the dancers, as they were following direction. But the sort of folksy dancing done on stage is far more fun to do than it is to watch. It is more like memorized movement than dance, to me. I was a bit horrified to see a clogging interpretation of the Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairies. Although I think folk dance can be entertaining for an audience, I think the chosen choreography fell short of that. I enjoyed the ballet done toward the end of the first act, but it was too little, too late, and my companion and I left during intermission.

Black Swan

Dec. 21st, 2010 01:47 am
shanmonster: (Dance Monkey Dance!)
... is so good and so fucking creepy I could just swoon.

I was kept off-balance throughout the whole movie. The story is excellent. The acting is excellent. I could do without the shaky camera, but in this instance, it really does make sense.

I need to get the DVD.

Thank you for there being a truly awesome dance movie.


Dec. 20th, 2010 01:16 pm
shanmonster: (Liothu'a)
I had a wonderful weekend. I hung out with [ profile] knightky and we made fleur de sel toffee, went skating, watched a horrible movie (Mutant, which is amusing if only for its blatant and very silly sexism), and watched Walking Dead. He also retrieved my digital camera from the repair place, and I'm looking forward to getting back into photography. I must first locate the camera cable. Where the hell did it go?

I watched Tron last night, which is a neon-lit turd of a movie. I think it is supposed to have a deep spiritual message of some sort, but it sure as hell doesn't. The first part is a blatant rip-off of the Star Wars franchise. The rest is pseudo-spiritual hoohaw with occasional chase scenes involving uncomfortable-looking rides that fart digital rainbows. Over all, it is very much a movie of style over substance, and it made me wish I were watching The Big Lebowski, instead.

I couldn't help but shake my head that the protagonist's big altruistic kick was to release the mega-corporation's new OS to the public for free on the internet. While that was a laudable act within the movie, I'm amused at the thought of how Disney execs will react to free torrents of their cash cow being all over the intarwebs.

Now it's back to the grind, and so I'm steeling myself for a day of proofreading and an evening of exercise. The night will be wrapped up by a viewing of Black Swan, which looks to be the first good dance movie in forever. I don't know what it is about dance movies, but they are pretty much universally dreadful.
shanmonster: (Default)
My dance performance on Saturday night went over very well. I'm looking forward to seeing video footage so I can critique myself mercilessly. Now I'm working on familiarizing myself with the music for my next performance in November, and figuring out what the heck to do with it. It's extremely different from anything I've ever performed to before, and rhythm and melody don't really enter into the equation. Also, I only have 60 seconds. Tricky, tricky, tricky....

[In the green room]

Tickets are available now. 60x60 will be a really unique show. Please come check it out.

I spent yesterday with [ profile] knightky, and walked his damned legs right off him. Poor guy. But we did get to see the Terra Cotta warriors exhibit at the ROM, which was interesting, but, I have to admit, a little disappointing. The pieces they showed were remarkable, but I didn't get the sense of scope I was hoping for. There were only a half dozen or so of the soldiers, and a couple of the horses. I felt far more overwhelmed by the huge lineups to see the things than I did by the artifacts themselves. I will, however, admit to being taken aback by the collection of ancient Chinese dildos. These were ostensibly only used by women, because apparently, Chinese men had no use for such things back then. Pfft.

Later, we found a playground sized for adults on a back street behind the Toronto public library, and had lots of fun playing on the springy seesaw. I love those things! There should be more playgrounds like that everywhere. I know we're not the only grown-ups who like playing on such things.

In the evening, I went to see Gary Numan. Nash the Slash opened for him. I was under the impression I was the only one in the audience who didn't like him. He had his face wrapped all in bandages, just like thirty years ago. And he wore a white tuxedo with a white top hat. It is definitely a unique schtick, but I just cannot get into his music. I didn't really like him when I was a kid, either. Ah well. At least I could sing along with his closing song, "Teenage Wasteland." I overheard someone in the audience positing that he could very well be a member of The Residents. Yes, I suppose so.

It was a much older audience than I'm used to seeing at shows. I'd say 2/3 of the audience was my age and older. There was no mosh pit. Hehehehe....

Gary was awesome. His band was really good, too. The first half of his show was all early stuff. Although I'm fonder of his later music, I gained a fresh appreciation for his older compositions when I got to see/hear them live. The audience nearly lost their minds when he started playing "Cars" and "Down in the Park."

He did a three-song encore, ending with A Prayer for the Unborn, which is about the saddest song ever, and not the sort of thing I want to cheer all frenzied-like for.

I feel a pretty strong connection with a lot of his lyrics. I think he perhaps shares the darker part of my brains.

Link time.

Equus: This is playing in Toronto next month. It's one of my favourite plays, so I'd really like to see it. Wanna come with me?

Shopping for Zombies: This is not the store I would have figured would do this....

Bacon Lube Taste Test: It's bacony.

adieu canaille: NSFW because of roto-boobies. Surreal fembot-type stuff, with burlesque spinning action (thanks, [ profile] balthcat).

Student Hides Rick Astley's Song In College Paper: I used to write secret messages like this all the time, but I have never attempted rickrolling like that.

Crocodile on plane kills 19 passengers: I feel bad for laughing. Really, I do. But motherfuckin' crocs on a plane!

Republicans Oppose Franken on Rape Legislation: When the reputation of big business is considered legally more valuable than egregious human rights violations. Disgusting.

Transcending the Material: Knitted skeleton (thanks, [ profile] longpig and [ profile] elanya)!

Meat Beat

Sep. 29th, 2010 10:34 am
shanmonster: (Default)
So people have been talking about how original Lady Gaga has been with her meat dress. I watched an interview with her, and although I think she's darned good at being a spectacle, I really don't see any depth in the artistic statement she claimed for the dress.
"Well, it is certainly no disrespect to anyone that is vegan or vegetarian. As you know, I am the most judgment-free human being on the earth. However, it has many interpretations but for me this evening. If we don't stand up for what we believe in and if we don't fight for our rights pretty soon we're going to have as much rights as the meat on our own bones. And, I am not a piece of meat."
The rights of the meat on our bones? Really?

I just don't see any depth in any of her work, really. She is a product of the superficiality of pop culture. I think that as long as people realize that, it's ok. I enjoy watching her videos. I think they're hilarious.

Now, let's take a tour through meat as fashion, shall we? )
shanmonster: (On the stairs)
After a strange party the night before with people of questionable sobriety (me being one of those questionable people), I woke up and made my way to the CN Tower. Although I've gazed at Toronto's Sky Penis many times, I've never actually gone for a ride up its urethra. On Saturday, up I went.

The elevator goes about 15 mph. That's pretty fast. It's about the same speed that my sphincter puckers firmly shut while I watch the ground disappear beneath me. My ears popped the same way as they would if I were riding in an airplane. From my vantage point in Charlie's great glass elevator, I watched the ground race away from me until the throngs of tourists went from irritating to inconsequential.

I went to the 360 Restaurant, which is a rotating restaurant in the bulging head of the sky penis. The most interesting thing about this restaurant is the rotating view. In the time it took us to eat our meals, the restaurant completed about one and a half revolutions, showing us a fantastic view of the city, Lake Ontario, and the hideous CN rail yard. The least interesting thing was the carpet, so I won't talk about that.

[Amelia and I]

The food was very pricey, and fell far short of my expectations. I had made the incorrect assumption that because the meals were very expensive, that they would match in quality the equally expensive meal I'd eaten at Verses in Kitchener last month. The food, although not bad, by any stretch of the imagination, was also not great. It struck me as being no tastier than something I might purchase at a mid-priced family restaurant. Still, the food was rather pretty.

First course: Tomatoes, feta, and arugula salad with some sort of balsamic vinegar and oil. Meh.


Second course: Breast of capon stuffed with mushrooms and served with au jus and mashed sweet potatoes. It was ok, but no better than anything I've eaten at a mid-priced restaurant.

[Just ok]

Third course: Dark and white chocolate mousse tower with fraiche creme anglais and fresh fruit. The creme and the blackberries were the best part, but still nowhere close to being the most delicious dessert I've ever had. The presentation was clever, I guess. If you use your imagination, you can see how this is supposed to represent the tower I was in at the time.

[Phallic food]

The coffee, however, was the worst coffee I've ever had in a restaurant. I did not take its picture.

After eating, I then went an walked on the glass floor, and experienced a bizarre physiological response to the whole thing. My legs went all wobbly, and I felt my guts suck right up inside my body as I looked almost a mile down beneath my feet. So I laid down and had my picture taken.

[Felt creepier than this looks]

Afterwards, when we finally left the intensely overcrowded observation deck, I went downtown and got accosted by a hot chick peddling Bruno merchandise. She tried to get me into her van, but I escaped this succubus. And now I'm home.


How was your weekend?
shanmonster: (Dance Monkey Dance!)
April 19, St.-Stephen-in-the-Fields Church, Toronto

I have to admit, when I first heard the concept for Inversion: Rewind show, I was dubious. I thought people would quickly sicken of hearing Beats Antique's "Trinkit" more than a half-dozen times in less than two hours. But then I saw the radically different interpretations, and I was won over. It was an incredible show, filled with stellar performances in a wide array of styles. No two interpretations were even slightly similar. Accents in the song which demanded I place special emphasis on them in my dance were completely ignored by other dancers who found their own key points. I danced with poi. One troupe danced with hats. Another dancer with an umbrella. Another with a puppet and a huge paper hoop skirt. One with a chair and spider-like hand movements. We were all different, and we somehow made the song different. After the show, I heard many people say they hadn't even realized we were using the same music until well into the second act.

And it wasn't just the dancers who were great, and who made this my all-time favourite belly dance gig.
  • It was the venue. St.-Stephen-in-the-Fields church is a gorgeous space. Although I am a distinctly irreligious person, the stained glass, impressive pipe organ, and soaring arches provided a warm ambience and intimate venue.
  • It was the acoustics. The vaulted ceilings and size of the room made the sound resonate in the warmest fashion.
  • It was the costuming. Great care had been taken with what the dancers were wearing. Outfits were well-matched with performance pieces, and in the instance of Maryfer's crazy hoop skirt, integral to the dance.
  • It was the audience. In performance, I personally find a form of symbiosis. If either the performer or audience doesn't do their job, the performance loses something. At Inversion: Rewind, both audience and performers did their job beautifully. Even when I was under the blinding spotlights, when I couldn't see the people filling the seats, I knew they were there. I could feel their spellbound attention directed at me, and I soaked it up greedily, pulling it into myself and directing it right back out at them in the form of my dance. And when I stood backstage and watched the other performances, I could see the same thing was happening with the other dancers. The audience was jubilant and exuberant with the joyous performances, and hushed and reverent with the more reflective dances.

And as for my own performance? This is my third time dancing at one of Audra's events, and the previous two times, I felt off. The first time, I was dancing on a badly sprained ankle. The second time, I just wasn't connecting with my music in a way that felt natural to me. This time around, I'm ok with what I did. "Trinkit" is admittedly not my favourite piece to dance to, and after almost two hundred listenings of the song (no exaggeration. My iTunes says I listened to it 178 times, and that's not including the times I listed to it on my iPod), I'll be perfectly fine with never hearing it again for a few years. It's not the most ideal song for me to spin poi to, but the glitchiness of the tune let me hit a few beats to maximum effect (gotta love that double kick change near the end).

In contrast, I only listened to my other song a couple dozen times at most, and it was far less challenging for me, even if the dance I did to it was far more complex. I chose "Orca" by Wintersleep at the eleventh hour, and beyond a bit of visualizing in my chair to the song, didn't practice to the piece at all. But I didn't need to. I've been thinking about this song for over a year. The song speaks to me, tells me to dance to it in a very particular fashion, and does so in no uncertain terms. And so I complied, filling the space around me with what I was feeling internally. The song switches between soft, plaintive singing to harsh crescendos, so I danced it in two corresponding styles. I kept the floorwork soft and slow for the quiet parts of the song, and added a violent sort of martial arts and zaar fusion to the aggressive bits. I rationed out my eye contact with the audience for maximum effect. I floated off the floor, hovering just off the stage with the power of my thighs. I raked my hair across my face. I kicked. I clenched fists. I buried my face in my hands. And when the applause struck me, I was grateful.

It is for moments like these that I dance.

On the Move

Feb. 5th, 2008 11:41 am
shanmonster: (Dance Monkey Dance!)
I really didn't know what to expect from the On the Move conference aside from the assumption I'd feel like an outsider. After all, I'm at least a decade older than the average participant, I don't have a western dance background, and I've never attended a school of dance. But much to my surprise, I found the conference useful on several levels.

First of all, the networking opportunity is fantastic. I hooked up with other world fusion dancers, and other people from the "freak" scene. I was not the only dancer there who'd performed to classical Egyptian orchestral music and heavy metal. I was not the only martial artist. And I wasn't the only fire dancer. If there were other pole dancers, I didn't meet them, but I'm sure there were a couple amongst the 190 or so participants who'd braved the blizzard to attend the conference. I traded contact information with other dancers, gained performance opportunities, and told others about upcoming music festivals they'd not heard about.

Secondly, I found out about numerous arts organizations and resources I'd never even suspected existed. CADA provides accident insurance for dancers and dance instructors, and will also reimburse a good percentage of dance and physical training costs. DUO offers free consultations for dancers in a wide range of ideas, including grant proposal writing, mentoring, etc. The CDA acts as an advocacy group for dancers. And other organizations provide emergency funding for artists experiencing financial difficulties. I had no idea there were so many resources out there!

Thirdly, I got to experience the charismatic brilliance of Sashar Zarif. Although I'd had an introduction to the dances of central Asia and the Silk Road through a few other instructors, I was blown away by Mr. Zarif's charms and contagious energy. Hussa!

Fourthly, I found the Dancing With Words workshop very useful both for the purposes of developing my own artist's statement, as well as for interviewing other artists (whether they're in dance or some other creative field). Applying the sample questions to Mexican ballerina Lillia reawoke my past experiences of being a radio documentary producer. I really need to get back into interviewing.

I didn't find the second day quite as useful. The workshops I went to seemed far more applicable to company dancers than it did to independent artists. And the dance class I attended (Luigi jazz) assumed a familiarity with western dance terms I just don't have. After the warm up exercises, the instructor (Alex Cilic) said, "I feel a grungity."

"Grungity?" I thought, bewildered.

And then she leaped in the air, and all was revealed. Ah. A grande jettée. And then I knew I was in trouble. My four or five hours of ballet training had not prepared me for this. So I sat the jazz class out and watched some truly marvelous dancing done by the next generation of Canadian performers. This country is in for some great dance. I wish you could have seen these young men and women. They move with such grace and fire.

I left the conference feeling energized and encouraged. I will be taking full advantage of the resources revealed to me. And next year, I plan on attending the conference again.
shanmonster: (Default)
I would have enjoyed last night's Rob Zombie show more if I hadn't been sick and if the place hadn't been populated by asshole jocks. At one point, I had to stop myself from giving in to the almost overwhelming urge to bite a huge gash out of the arsehole in front of me. I don't know where those violent cannibalistic tendencies came from. It must have been the whole zombie motif of the show, I guess. One yahoo was playing high-speed, high-impact bumper cars with the unimpressed people around him. After he smashed into me at full force and sent me reeling to the side, I spun around to see what the fuck he was doing. That was about when [ profile] schwartzung grabbed and shook him like a terrier would. Heh....

The stage show itself was good. The band has excellent stage presence, and really knows how to fill their space and get the crowd going. But by the end, I found myself wondering when I'd be able to go home and eat the scrumptious chicken stew I'd made earlier that day.

I can console myself in the belief that my next show won't have anything near the same asshole contingent. I'm going to see Henry Rollins again. Yes.

After the show, I ended up staying up until 10:30 the next morning shooting the shit with [ profile] schwartzung and [ profile] f00dave (who miraculously kept his pants on for the whole affair).

If you get a chance, and you're on FaceBook, why don't you join the 8 Digital community? 8 Digital is the band I dance with on an official basis. You can also find us on MySpace, although the page needs some work.
shanmonster: (Don't just sing it--bring it!)
Leif GarretToday [ profile] senseic and I went to an installation piece by Steven Shearer at the Power Plant Gallery. The subject matter was heavy metal, with a particular and somewhat creepy focus on Leif Garret. Remember him? I barely do. I remember seeing him on the cover of plenty of Tiger Beat magazines, and all its pink, sugary pederast-pleasing brethren. When we walked in, our ears were assuaged and torn by loud metal music, but shortly after walking in, the music died.

The gallery is an antiseptic white--a strange counterpoint to the raucous colours, corpse paint, and leopard prints of the metalheads all over the walls. It clashed rather badly, as did the chic gallery attendants in their business attire. Only [ profile] senseic and I seemed to be dressed for the occasion. We were both in full-fledged thrasher gear. My hair was brushed out huge in 80s style, and hers was long, lank and greasy in Norwegian death metal style. She was also sporting some Alice Cooper eye makeup.

Shortly after arriving, and while drinking on the sly from a water bottle filled with something not water-like, we started taking pictures. The show is primarily comprised of found art, with collages formed from hundreds of album covers and photos of metalheads and musicians culled from the internet. So imagine our surprise when we were asked not to take pictures of subject matter obviously not owned by either the gallery or the artist. Even still, we did get a few.

The artwork is gratifying and validating, since the fancy schmancy gallery types have approved it. Metal has become high culture. Or at least the idea of metal has become high culture. Why else would you find a photo of Ozzy Osbourne blow-drying his armpits in a posh gallery?

The one odd note would be the little shed set up in the middle of one of the galleries. It had a bright light shining from a crack in the door. But when I tried to open the shed doors, I found they'd been wired shut. I couldn't see anything through the crack. Would they be so brazen as to start a grow-op in the middle of a posh gallery? Why not?


After we'd worn out the exhibit in our own minds (more easily done considering how sweltering hot it was in there), we wandered back downtown, watched some skaters, and fruitlessly tried to find a happening club on a Wednesday night. We also went to a second hand music shop to find a CD by the Plasmatics, but were thwarted by both the clerk's assertion that we were looking for klezmer, and also by the fact that the store contained absolutely no Plasmatics. So we took the subway home, ogled some cute boys who were ogling us in return, then went home to listen to WASP and watch a Hungarian horror movie.

And how was your Wednesday?

SenseiC with hootch and death metal lyrics
shanmonster: (Tiger claw)
[ profile] real_bethy invited me over for a Hanukkah supper last night, and so I trooped off for latkes, doughnuts, tortellini, Jack Daniels whiskey and other fun treats. We were joined by [ profile] f00dave, [ profile] snowy_kathryn, and [ profile] schwartzung, the latter two of which would be accompanying me to the GWAR show later that night.

I'm sure the average Hanukkah doesn't involve Hitler ejaculating blue spooge all over Kathryn, but this wasn't just Hanukkah. It was GWARnukkah.

I witnessed many strange and wonderful things last night, including the decapitation of George W. (who wears our country like a hat (and whose arterial blood soaked the ravening crowd)), a mad terrorist with a towel on its head, an enormously fat man-thing which sprayed gouts of blue fecal matter across the audience before being flayed down to the bones, and lord knows what else.

The mosh pit was a sea of upraised hands and faces being drenched under gallons of questionable body fluids. I stood back in one of the bar areas watching, all bemused. Kathryn's reaction was not so subdued. Her mouth was stretched agape in brutal amazement, and it wasn't long before [ profile] schwartzung dragged her into the pit to bust her mosh cherry.

Some time later, she came back to the bar looking worse for wear. She was limping, disheveled, covered with Hitler jizz, and her glasses were badly bent. She was also wearing a beatific smile.

[ profile] schwartzung showed up shortly afterwards, looked at me, and said, "You're next."

I passed my glasses (and eyesight) to Kathryn, grabbed on to [ profile] schwartzung's shirt, and away we went into the pit. I lost him at one point, when we were going down the stairs. I had no idea how many steps or how wide they were. Neither could I detect any obstacles, of which there were many. But I somehow made it down there, and [ profile] schwartzung returned to pull me into the fray.

I was pressed in on all sides, pinned in moving place by a tide of sweat-soaked heaving bodies. Keeping on my feet was a struggle, and it took all my strength and dexterity to squirm my way up closer and closer to the stage. The music was irrelevant. The stage show was irrelevant. I was immersed in a cacophonous din. My mouth was filled with someone's hair. An elbow jammed into my throat. My feet and lower legs were crushed beneath boots. Jettisons of fluid rained down upon me, into my eyes, ears, and mouth. I felt a heavy weight pressing down on my head, and forced my arms up to clear it. A spread-eagled body passed by overhead. A man was jammed up tight behind me, his mouth brushing my ear. "I apologize if I touch you inappropriately," he said. "It's entirely unintentional."

[ profile] schwartzung was just ahead of me. He turned to scream in my ear, "Are you ok?"

"Fuck, yeah!" I screamed.

And I continued to ride the crowd in a blind haze until [ profile] schwartzung turned to me one more time and said, "Time to leave. Give me a knee." And then I was dragged up over top of the wave of human cilia, grabbed and groped all the way to the stage, where I was hauled back down to earth by raincoat-clad security, and shoved into a trough where I ran the gauntlet out of the pit. A shirtless man tried to stop me, grabbing at me every which way, but slick with the sweat of many, I slip-squeezed by him and felt my way back to the bar. Kathryn, the now uncloseted metalhead, found me and gave me my glasses, and the word came back into sharp focus.

I was covered in blue.

A few moments later, [ profile] schwartzung emerged again, grabbed another gulp of beer, and took Erin, yet another pit virgin, into the fray. I sang along to "Maggots" while sipping a nasty strawberry daquiri, and then the show ended abruptly, brought to a sudden close by way of irritating city bylaws. Erin and [ profile] schwartzung came back to the bar, and he sloshed beer all over her. "Eww!" she said. "My bra is full of beer." She turned to me. "Want to suck some out?"

It tasted like beer at first, but the aftertaste was very not beer. I hope my mouth doesn't get pregnant with Hitler's love child.

And how was your Hannukah?
shanmonster: (Tiger claw)
Beyond making for a good yarn, I really don't care about your past. I care about who you are now.


I'd been craving martinis for almost two weeks, and on Wednesday, I decided to do something about that. So I got all dressed up and went to the Ren and ordered myself a chocolatini. Cheryl, the barkeep and my good twin, made me one, but not the normal variety. Instead, it was a milky white, and tasted delicious in a sweet and somewhat salty sort of way. I call it Easter Bunny Cum. I told her this, and she laughed. She also gave me an articulated finger claw thingermabob. What are those things called? I don't really know. But it is over the top, shiny, and pokey.

I wandered back to the DJ booth to stash my jacket and saw a man standing there expectantly. "Are you the DJ?" he asked.

"No," I said. I pointed to [ profile] schwartzung. "He is."

"I want to make a request," he said. "But I gotta say, you look very nice." He extended his hand to shake mine and introduced himself.

I thanked him for the compliment and went on my merry way.

The thing is, three or four more times that evening, the guy re-introduced himself to me, and each time the compliments became more fulsome.

Finally, when I was sitting by myself on a couch, I saw him making a beeline towards me. "Oh dear," I thought to myself, because it was all getting a bit uncomfortable.

"Hi!" he said, proffering his hand. Once again, I shook his hand, and once again, he introduced himself. "Say, um, do you have a girlfriend or boyfriend?"

"No!" I said, rather disingenuously. A beat passed. "I have a husband."

And the poor guy said, "Oh," turned, and left the club.

Oh dear.

I hate playing the trump card. It always feels so cheap.

The night took a bizarre turn a bit later when a woman sat across from me and made rude sniping comments to me, which I ignored. Later on, I found she was trying to stir up some drama by telling on of my friends that I was trying to steal that friend's boyfriend away. Give me a fucking break. Why on earth would a thirty-something woman try to pull off such high school antics? That's just sad. It is also the first time someone has tried to create drama about me in a decade or so. My friend didn't believe it for a second, of course, and called her on it. Sheesh.

Stephen Thrasher did a great job. Their music is eminently danceable, and Reanie's stage presence and Stephen's singing have greatly improved since the last time I saw them. Great job, guys! You rocked the casbah....

I was gifted with two more martinis that night, so my cravings have been sated. Martinis, however, leave me in bizarre territory. Although I don't have a flirtatious bone in my body, when I drink a martini, something miraculous happens, and I am transformed into some sort of a flirt monster. Not wanting to do something outrageous, I turned to my buddy Carrie and said, "You're safe!" and hugged the shit out of her. I find it interesting how different drinks have completely different effects on me. Good thing I didn't have absinthe, or I might have started a bar fight.

When Cheryl kicked us out, the party gravitated to my place. [ profile] schwartzung and Ian (from Hamilton) returned with me and subjected me to cruel abuse (and a tasty omelette), playing video after horrid video of what have to be some of the worst singers in the history of the world. It hurt so much I was in tears, rolling on the floor, banging my head on things. And yes, you should expect a post linking to some of these videos, because such aural assault should not be suffered by me alone. You'll listen to it, and you will suck it up, thank me, and ask for more.

My night finally ended around 10:30 in the morning, by which point my migraine hallucinations had expanded to new proportions. At night, when I'm in the darkness and am somewhat tired, I see halos around items, particularly around vertical straight edges. It is something of an echo effect, so if I'm looking at a pole, for instance, I will see multiple images of that pole, moving off into the distance and gradually fading. By 10:30 in the morning, I was seeing these in the daylight for the first time. I was also confusing my chinchillas with cats, so it was a good thing I got some sleep.

I had to get up three hours later for an appointment with a lung specialist. When he checked my lung capacity, he gave me some excellent news. On my current medication dose, my lungs register as those of a normal, healthy person. He also confirmed my suspicion that my feelings of strength, stamina, and general invincibility earlier this month were indeed what I ought to feel like when my lungs are at 100% efficiency. Huzzah!

After hearing this good news, I went back home and crashed.

I'm feeling well-rested today. Are you?

[James, Kris, and I]
shanmonster: (Spasmolytic)
The succinct version: my weekend fucking rocked.

The not-so-succinct version in point form:
  • Went to the bus terminal with [ profile] schwartzung at 4:30 to catch the 5:00 bus. Bus didn't leave until 5:20. We were supposed to arrive in Toronto a bit after 6. Traffic is truly brutal, and we don't get there until 7:30. By this point, Schwartzung's jonesing for nicotine so bad I'm afraid he's going to murder everyone. I'm the closest in proximity, and I realize this means I'll be the first to go. Crisis is averted when we evacuate the bus and he lights up.
  • I grab us a couple of bagels at a Tim Horton's manned by the utterly incompetent, and we book it up to Convocation Hall at the University of Toronto. We meet up with Ivor, the singer for Schwartzung's band 8 Digital, then take our seats to listen to the educated rantings of Henry Rollins. Although the guys' seats have a much better view than I with my seat in the nosebleed section, I am the luckier. They sit directly behind someone whose arse is constantly emitting mustard gas.
  • Henry fucking rocks. He regales us with fabulous tales for three hours without break. He doesn't even need to take a single sip of water the whole time. I don't know how he does it. He rambles about everything from The Ruts to travelling in Syria to the linguistic peculiarities of George W. Bush and Christopher Walken, leaving us all very happy campers indeed.
  • We leave U of T and head down to Queen St. West and Savage Garden. Ivor and I are hungry, so he takes me in to a Jamaican restaurant while Schwartzung boogies on down to Savage. One chicken patty later, I arrive, too, only to discover I've just missed Glenn Love's performance. Damn. I apologize to Glenn for missing his show (I'd really wanted to see him), and he says no matter, because he'll be doing another show in the very near future. And because he's a big ol' sweetie, hugs fly like shrapnel.
  • I am surrounded by gothlings.
  • Ward from H-427 sees me and attacks me with a giant hug. Shortly afterwards, he takes the stage and the show begins.
  • Most of the gothlings stand around with a carefully cultivated jaded look. H-427 are acting like utter maniacs on stage. Finally, despite themselves, the gothlings are drawn into the vortex of rivethead energy, and they dance around like maniacs, too, cheering vociferously at the end of every song.
  • The bloodbath begins. The mostly naked Kevin looks like he fell into the waste bin at an abattoir. Out of the corner of my eye, I see Schwartzung chugging fake blood, adding a few swigs of beer, and gargling. Moments later he spews the concoction all over Ward.
  • Ward dives off the stage and onto the dance floor, writhing around like there's a buzzer up his ass. Keyboards go flying. Gothlings dance like electrocuted cats. The music blares onward.
  • Back when I was taking grad-level creative writing at the University of New Brunswick, I didn't fit in too well to academe. Neither did Chris. We were the bad girls of the English department. Anyhow, she strolls by me, and I yoink her as she walks by.
  • Too hot in my all-leather ensemble, I've stripped down to leather pants and a sports bra. Ward makes a beeline for me and slathers my sweaty exposed flesh with blood. It's revolting and hilarious. I try not to think about the chemical blood/saliva/beer cocktail and imagine it's real blood, because somehow that's much less disgusting.
  • I take lots of pictures.
  • Chris gets blood mauled, too.
  • The show ends, and as the stage is being cleaned up and the blood spills mopped, Chris and I keep on dancing. More pictures are taken with H-427 and Schwartzung, and we decide to go out for food together.
  • Roaming around Chinatown at 3 in the morning, we finally find a suitable place and go in. I'm not really hungry, and end up giving my tasty hot and sour soup away.
  • After Kevin the vegetarian turns rather green when he discovers he's been eating pork, I get ready to dodge the forthcoming stream of vomit. He manages to keep it down.
  • Crossing the street, I demonstrate my dancer's grace by stumbling off a curb. I manage not to fall. Moments later, Schwartzung demonstrates his gentlemanly nature by distracting everyone from my bumbling when he takes a spectacular nosedive onto the street. Luckily for him, he never falls, so it must have been someone else who took the tumble. Yeah...
  • Schwartzung and I go back to Chris's place and shoot the shit for a few more hours. Despite being completely wired and manic, I make myself go to bed around 5:30 am.
  • I wake up, still completely wired, at 8:30 am. WTF?
  • Eventually the others stumble out of bed, and we have a cup of tea while listening to Slayer.
  • The day is spent shopping along Queen St. Note: I don't like going to the Eaton Centre at the best of times. I never want to go the the Eaton Centre again when it's busy. Weekends and Boxing Day are definitely out. I get filled with The Rage.
  • Schwartzung and I decide to stay one more night, and we booze it up at Chris's. She offers us some rum. I take a tiny sip and furrow my brow. I take another tiny sip, then yell, "That's not rum!" Despite 3/4s of the bottle already being drunk by Chris, she'd somehow failed to notice this was actually 100% agave tequila. Soooo not rum.
  • We buy more hooch at the liquor store, and while under the influence of rum tequila and hard cider, I pen out the skeleton for the Great Canadian Novel, which when I complete it shall win the Governor General's Award, because it's being crafted specifically to that end. I'm calling it Bad Sex in Toronto. We talk about bad sex. I laugh more, and become more and more inebriated.
  • Schwartzung and Chris are chatting in the dining room, and I wander over to the kitchen. I stand with my sock-encased feet a bit wide on the tile floor. My feet begin to slide apart on the floor. I look down in astonishment. I see Schwartzung looking at me with a raise eyebrow. My feet keep drifting further and further apart. I fall down. I get up again. Schwartzung and I laugh. Chris missed the whole thing.
  • We watch Orgazmo. We watch Jesus is Magic. My three hours of sleep catches up to me. I can barely move. Barely think. I drink plenty of water and stumble to bed.
  • Eight hours later I get up. The other two are still asleep, so I spend a couple of hours reading Camille Paglia.
  • The others get up. We drink tea and listen to Meshugga, and then head out to Nicky Z's for a really late breakfast where I eat the best omelet I've ever had in my entire life.
  • Goodbyes all around, and Schwartzung and I hop the 5:30 bus back home to Kitchener.

[Schwartzung, Chris, and me]

And how was your weekend?

July 2017

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