spydream

May 21, 2007

i’m in the midst of an experiment.

i’ve always enjoyed spy and espionage films and television programs. i used to watch the show alias (which ran for 5 seasons between 2001 – 2006 in north america) on and off during its initial run. although the main actor, jennifer garner, has always irritated me, the spy and global espionage storylines were always intriguing.

unfortunately for me, it’s the kind of show you really do need to watch in proper sequence in order to fully understand what is going on. with so many double agents, deaths, pseudo-deaths, family secrets,  international players, etc. it’s hard to grasp the complex web of characters and plotlines if you’re only sampling it once in a while.

as someone who has commitment issues in every facet of their life, i have proven myself incapable, time and time again, of committing myself to a television show, catching it at the same time, week after week. luckily, this is no longer an issue. with websites like www.tv-links.co.uk and www.alluc.org, this failure (or triumph, depending on how you look at it) has a new solution. i’m no longer a slave to programming schedules. i can watch what i want, when i want and usually, i don’t have to wait like i would if i was downloading. i stream and have instant gratification.

so now that i know where to find the shows (and films) that i’d like to watch, i’ve chanced upon all five seasons of alias. i can now watch the show in its entirety, commercial free, with chinese subtitles i can’t read, when i choose and i choose to watch them right before i go to bed. every night, i stream one episode literally right before i close my eys and fall asleep. i do so in the hopes that i will induce my own spy dreams, that i will kick some ass and play a double agent, attend a party hosted by wealthy international criminals and do recognaissance between sips of champagne, or have my own white van of techie helpers who will help scramble security camera signals and such while i’m on a mission.  i hope to experience all of this and more before my alarm goes off and i realize i may have to eat more cumin flavoured cornflakes this morning (see previous post).

the results thus far: i’m nearly finished the first season and all i can remember dreaming about is… well, having nightmares about is being back in high school and seeing classmates i didn’t care about then and i don’t care about now.

all i have to say is: damn facebook – it’s a double agent and it’s fucking everything up.

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my cornflakes taste like cumin.

well, the taste is more a ‘hint’ of cumin, but it’s definitely there.  i fear that within the confines of my shared, dried goods cupboard, my flatmate’s cumin-filled, pre-mixed-by-her-mother, very tasty curry powder spices have infiltrated my cornflakes.  luckily, now that i am aware of the incursion, i can prevent further advances, but the damage is done.  there are already casualties.

it all seemed so innocent at first.  the first day she put said spices in the cupboard, i opened the door and was washed over by the fragrant smell, a very very good smell that wasn’t too pungent.  it was very noticeable at first, but far from offensive and i figured over time, as she used it up and as we burned things (accidentally of course) and made copious amounts of popcorn (that would be me) in our kitchen, other smells would balance it out and neutralize it.  it’s been a few weeks and i can still smell the cumin when i open those cupboard doors. it’s much more subtle now, but definitely there.  unmistakably there.  like the lingering smell of burnt hair… only a good smell, a tasty smell.

when i opened my box of cornflakes today, i didn’t notice it smelled any different.  unfortunately, it certainly tasted different.  my cornflakes tasted like cumin.  and this is not like a ‘it tastes like chicken, but everything tastes like chicken, so it’s okay’ kind of thing.  these are my cornflakes.  they’re meant to be bland.  they’re meant to taste like cornflakes.  cornflakes are not the kind of food you add spices to.  it’s the kind you add milk and fruit, maybe some sugar if you swing that way.  it completely threw off my senses.  on the first spoonful.

so now, with half a box left, i’m trying to air out my cornflakes.  let’s hope this works – i do enjoy my cornflakes, anytime of day.

while i wait to see if this process of ‘airing out’ works, i’ll leave you with this.  i found a rather bizarre recipe for cornflake cookies.  and as a cookie fanatic i ask – does this seem terribly terribly wrong to anyone else??

http://www.cooks.com/rec/view/0,1910,146176-241205,00.html

my shinny shin shins

May 17, 2007

i can’t remember when it started, but it’s been a while. it’s not all the time, but frequent enough. and because of it, i have to re-learn how to run and walk.

i get very painful shin splints. usually they come when i run. on occasion, i get them when i walk too – usually when i’m in a rush. for a while i had hoped that perhaps it was the universe telling me to slow down, i’ll get there when i get there, the world will have to wait… unfortunately, time and time again, i realized the world would not wait for me. well, sometimes it would, but they wouldn’t be very happy about it.

actually, i figured out a while ago that when i walk quickly, i lean forward and always assumed that’s why i get the shin splints – the angle of my shin-ankle-foot was causing the muscle to flex and i never stretch. fine – it was just something i would have to deal with when i’m running late. unfortunately, that’s fairly very often. my time seems to be at least 10-15 minutes behind that ‘world’ i mentioned earlier that doesn’t wait.

in training for this cancer research run i’m going to do, i’ve come to realize i get them every time i run as well. perhaps this was the universe telling me running really does suck as much as i thought it did and i should just forget about the whole thing… but then i realized the universe doesn’t have to pay for a gym membership or ride up the massive hill i live on everyday if i don’t run so i’d better suck it up and deal.

i asked my marathon-running sister about all this and she told me it’s because i point my toe upwards. so i’ve become more aware that when i get shin splints, yes, beneath the rubber toe of my converse all stars my toe is there, pointing, trying to break free if you will. so i’m trying to fix it… to flop my foot down on the ground, to try different ways of walking. feeling a bit ‘ministry of silly walks’ to be honest… perhaps on the crowded streets of central london is not the best place to work this out.

a google search led me to a number of places – wikipedia (of course) and a number of sports medicine and physio-therapy type websites that tell you what to do when you get them (rest, put ice on it, massage it, when it feels better put heat on it, etc), why one gets them (sometimes lactic acid builds up, the aforementioned toe pointing bit, bad footwear, not stretching, bad form/posture etc.), and how to prevent them (stretch, get better footwear with more cushion/support, fix your form and posture), among other things.

so i’m on a mission now: re-learn how to run and walk to prevent this terrible affliction. it’s a tough mission, but someone’s gotta do it… and apparently that someone has to be me.

when i moved out to london, england i tried to adopt bbc radio 4 to fill the enormous gap the absence of cbc radio presented. bbc 4 seemed to be the equivalent to cbc radio one- a mix of cultural programs, current events, hourly news, some music, and informative talk – only in various uk accents. brilliant… or so i thought.

i couldn’t get into it. in fact, what first i found charming and endearing about uk accents and english humour i soon found quite irritating, usually because i found the hosts themselves just plain annoying. while they seemed very knowledgeable, they weren’t always as likeable.

my schedule shifted drastically when i got here, so the only times of day that i really found myself wanting or able to listen to the radio was usually mid-afternoon, so i was stuck with the same program. while i learned a lot in the few weeks i tested it out – there was a show on london icons where callers chose their top three picks dead or alive, one about a london pub crawl based on the london version of monopoly, and another about favourite london museums – it wasn’t something i found compelled to commit to.

on top of that, the universe was against me – the bbc only streams their radio stations online using realplayer. without a proper stereo, that doesn’t fly with me (realplayer is shite). however, i realized cbc streams online using windows media player – bingo.

after a rather long hiatus from radio, i have recently reattached myself to cbc radio one and although the timing of the shows is completely off (i’m not waking up to the sounds of the toronto subway door chime *doo, doo, doo* and andy barrie’s deep voice of reason on metro morning at 7am EST/11am GMT), i have been able to catch a new show: Q with host jian ghomeshi. at 2pm EST/7pm GMT, Q comes on just as i’m preparing dinner and, lucky for me, is a canadian arts, culture and entertainment show lasting 90 minutes. i’ve already heard segments on the paintings ‘four indian kings’ currently on view in the portrait gallery here in london, interviews with musicians perry farrell and michael buble (aka. ‘the boob’), and author daniel handler (aka. lemony snicket…) talking about his latest adult book, adverbs. variety, contemporary relevance, geographical bridging and all delivered by a humble, homegrown host and ex-member of moxy fruvous in between news and weather reports (it does make me jealous to know it was sunny and 25 degrees at home the other day while it was 16 and rainy here). what more could i ask for?

not only can i enjoy q, but all the other quality programming i miss so dearly. oh how it warms my heart that this saturday before i go out for the night, i can listen to DNTO and on sunday, while i do my laundry, i can listen to quirks and quarks and the vinyl cafe. it made me think to look up these two videos:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KOuknbvu21Q

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XDNDqYl65sU

radio, radio.

something new for today courtesy of juice:

http://stage6.divx.com/Anime-Playground/video/1209251/PS3—Little-Big-Planet—GDC-07-Demo-HD

__________

i was reminded yesterday of my love for scrabble. it seems strange to have to be reminded that you love something, but i don’t play often – it’s quality, not quantity. an editorial by nora ephron in the ‘time select’ section of the nytimes online was posted yesterday called ‘Addicted to L-U-V’ and although i don’t subscribe to this portion of the website, i was able to stream and hear the author read the article for free – how novel! she brought to my attention such internet scrabble games as ‘blitz scrabble’ where you can play other scrabblers online. and while i enjoy the idea that i can play skilled players and improve my game, there’s something about the tactile quality of the game i value much more. those smooth and perfect letter pieces… smoothly carved with perfectly painted black letters… placing your last piece so that it touches others on every side and corner… scoring big on a word by covering those much coveted triple word score red squares… no, i resist the temptation of developing yet ANOTHER addiction by avoiding those websites all together. afterall, it took me years to wean myself off solitaire… and minesweeper… and then it was freecell, hearts, pinball and the worst of them all, spider solitaire.

scrabble is reserved for special occasions and i have special rivals. the only players i play against are my siblings (and on occasion, my brother-in-law). it’s intense competition. out of the four of us, one is clearly the most well-read and seasoned veteran of the game and, on the other hand, one is resigned to take last place nearly every time (i am neither), but there is always room to maneuver within the rankings of any given match. we’re probably not as good as real scrabblers, but i’d bet we could give some good players a run for their money… our combined effort anyway…

unfortunately, reserving the game to playing only the same three (or four) players and living on a different continent as the rest of them, re-matches are rather sparse and, if we’re lucky, a yearly occurrence. still, it’s a way to see what letter combinations you’ve learned in the past year, and which odd two-letter words you’ve picked up the rare occasions you flipped through the ‘official scrabble dictionary’ at a bookstore. if it weren’t for the excessive swearing and the tangential nerdy conversations, we could be the ultimate scrabble commercial – bringing the family together; it’s L-U-V, which according to ephron, is now in the scrabble dictionary (worth 6 points on its own).

‘i needed time to recuperate.’

‘recuperate from what?’

‘entenmann’s cookies, beer, diet pills, tension… life.’

charity of choice

May 8, 2007

some years ago i began a tradition: i do at least one charity event that requires physical exertion a year, whether it’s a run, walk, bike ride, etc.  when i started this, i choose a 5km run/walk for breast cancer because an organisation at my school offered to give me a lift to the event and, more importantly, because it got me out spending ‘quality time with my parents’.  i thought other people i knew or at the very least recognized because of their cool kid notoriety would also be attending either by choice, but more likely by way of punishment.  this was not the case.  so i walked 5km with mostly women of all shapes, sizes, volumes and masses in silence, observing stealthily the correct way to tie your jacket around your waist when you’re wearing a fanny pack.  it was interesting and rewarding enough (the event had good sponsors… far be it for me to decline free stuff for my hard work) that i continued to do this walk for 5 consecutive years, raising somewhere in the neighbourhood of $1000 for a good cause.

and then one day i thought – gee, i’m not so sure i like the fact that breast cancer has their own foundation.  is this a case of feminism going too far?  if so, was i okay with that?  yes, something like 1% of breast cancer sufferers are men, but was that a fair gender distribution?

i decided it wasn’t for me and looked for something else.  i tried walking for multiple sclerosis and thought about diabetes or lupus, which was fairly new on the run/walk fundraising scene… maybe i could make lupus just as popular as the colon cancer walk that season…

then on my way to work one day, i saw signs for the annual cn tower climb for the united way, a charity dedicated to centralizing and distributing funds to many different community charities.  this was great opportunity – raise money and get a free trip up the cn tower which, as a torontonian, i would never normally do, even with guests from out of town.  it takes the ‘average person’ 30 minutes to climb the 1,776 steps to the observatory deck.  it took me a bit longer, but damn, it’s a work out for someone with such a busy party schedule.  true, i was in the worst shape of my life, but i did it and raised around $150 for charity.

the following year i did it again with friends and raised about that amount for the world wildlife fund.

and now this year, i’m back to cancer research.  a 5km RUN around regent’s park in central london for which i am in training for (and for which i am also drastically cutting down on my vices… most days of the week).  and yes, this event appears gender-bias (apparently only women are allowed to run, much to my gay boyfriend’s disappointment), but it’s a favour to a friend recently affected by the disease.

so the moral of this story?… sponsor me:

http://www.raceforlifesponsorme.org/carolchoi

thanks.

maybe next year i’ll do a walk for the human fund…