Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Wibbly Wobbly Timey Wimey... Stuff

It's safe to say that May kind of got away from me. That's okay, though, because once I build my TARDIS I can just go back and write posts closer to the days that I actually think of these topics and you'll all be none the wiser... except then I'll have to erase this post.

Gosh, time travel is so confusing!

Any excuse for a Doctor Who clip

This won't be a coherent post, but I wanted to get a few thoughts down while they were still relatively fresh in my mind. Random? Yes. Important? Probably not. Going to talk about them anyway? Hells ya!

There has been lots going on in my life at the moment. Biggest change? I got a new job. I'm still with the organisation but a new higher-up position. As my brother said when I told him my new title, "you've got 'co-ordinator' in there. Nice!" It's handy when your family are also bureaucrats, they get what titles mean.

Being honest, I love the bathrooms on my new floor!

After my pub board game night with 106 and T, 106 found a Monday night board game meet up here in Victoria. We've been twice and it's awesome! He even bought one of our favourite games from this past Monday and I pretty much had to physically restrain myself from just inviting myself over to play it. It's called Guillotine and it's super simple, super quick, and super hilarious. Also, board games rock. I just wish they weren't so freakin' expensive.

Euro 2012 starts on Friday. That might not mean much to most of you, but it's huge for me. It's the first time in 24 years that Ireland has made it to the Euro. (In fairness, it's only held every four years. It's not like they've missed it 24 years in a row.) The last time Ireland went (which was also the first time, we're a young soccer nation) this happened:

It was kind of a big deal for us. They even wrote songs about it. Never ones to let a moment pass without signing about it, there's an official Ireland song for Euro 2012 as well.

(Snarky me adds a 'unless you score with a handball' at the end.
Yeah, I'm still bitter. Stupid France.)

Speaking of Ireland vs. England, people were chatting in the lunch room today about the Queen's Jubilee when one of them turned to me and seriously asked "you're Irish. Are you excited about the celebrations? Is your family doing anything special?" I was slightly dumbfounded at the question so I just said 'no' and left the room.

I don't have anything against the English, and good on the Queen for sticking in there, but Irish people aren't exactly known for our love of England or the monarchy. In fact, we're kind of known for disliking them. We fought a war of independence over it. The resulting separation of the island of Ireland made a few of the papers. So did the ensuing Troubles. While I don't expect this non-Irish coworker to be able to list names and dates from the last 100 years of Irish history, I would expect that somewhere in her brain would be the understanding that Ireland won't be celebrating this Jubilee. Or any Royal Jubilee.

I'll have to remember to ask her what she's doing for American Independence Day in July.

I have made no secret of my love for Phil Plait, aka The Bad Astronomer. If you love science, you should check out his quote turned into awesome graphics by Zen Pencils. It gives me chills reading it. If you want to get me something nice just because, I'll take a print of that comic. Thanks.

I had a crush on a guy in high school who I always thought was way too cool for me - it was the classic nerd-girl-likes-jock-a-year-older-than-her crush. While I thought I always played it cool, I'm sure he knew. How could he not when I just randomly always seemed to be hanging out in the hall near his locker? Or sitting by the field when he was practicing soccer? He was nicer than some of the crushes I had and politely tolerated me but we had nothing in common. Nothing! Except we both liked 'Ocean Pearl' by 54-40.
While I liked the song, crush-boy loved it. He had all of 54-40's albums, he went to a few of their concerts, and he talked about wanting to meet the band.

This song still gets me dancing.

My crush ended suddenly one day. His friend made fun of him for his geeky hanger-on and his previously tolerant demeanour changed. In front of all his friends, he made me feel about two inches tall. I was devastated.

Skip forward 18 years to this past weekend. My friends, Justin and Ian, played Friday and Saturday night with their recently acquired drummer, Matt Johnson. As in, Matt Johnson of 54-40. It wasn't my first time meeting Matt, but it was the first time we had a conversation between us without Justin or Ian instigating it. Despite friends with him both nights, he made a point of coming over and say 'hello' and asking how I was doing.

As I nursed a hangover of epic proportions on Sunday (more from lack of sleep than the four beers the night before), I thought of that high school crush for the first time in more than a decade. Man, did I ever wish I could tell 14 year old me that some day one of my crush's hero would laugh at my jokes. That would have stopped a few of those tears.

Friday, May 4, 2012

It Was Going To Be a Post About May the Fourth...

Like all good little sisters, I borrowed my brother's personal items when he wasn't home. When I was younger, it was his G.I.Joe's. As a pre-teen and teenager, it was his tapes and, later, CDs. The only cool thing about me by the time I got to high school was that I knew the lyrics to every song on the License to Ill record.

I felt numb when I read the news today that Adam Yaunch, better known to most of us as MCA, had passed away. I broke the news to my unit at work. It says a lot about the Beastie Boys that despite a 25 year age difference in our group and different socio-economic upbringings, we all had a Beastie Boys story to share. They crossed genres and generations in a way that very few other groups have.

And singing along with Fight For Your Right will never go out of style.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Memories of a Mzungu

I am spending my Friday night watching the 1962 John Wayne movie Hatari!

Don't worry if you have no idea what I'm talking about. Five years ago, I had never heard of the movie and I went through a period in high school of watching a classic movie a week. I had watched more John Wayne films than I could name.

But then I went on safari in Tanzania and visited Tarangire NP. Everywhere around the entrance guard hut were signs about the movie being filmed there. Hatari means danger or caution. Baby Bro and I found it hilarious to yell "HATARI... THE MOVIE!" at each other for the rest of the trip.

We usually made this hand gesture as we yelled it...
although that was just coincidental.

Obviously, we had to watch the film when we returned home. Now it's my 'I miss Tanzania' film.

This round of nostalgia started when E and I ended up in Munro's Books in the language section. A Swahili book caught my attention and soon I was pontificating about how even a small knowledge of the language goes a long to increasing the willingness of the locals to help you and decreasing the opening quote on items in shops. I bored entertained E and the lady browsing down the aisle with stories which illustrated my point. (You're welcome for the travel tips, by the way, lady-who-kept-staring-at-me.)

The local mode of carrying goods.
The girl on the left is carrying an axe on her head.
Three days later, I found The White Masai on clearance for $5. Once I started reading, I couldn't stop. The writing isn't great and some of the decisions made by the author frustrated me to no end but the story just drew me. While the book is set in Kenya, the two countries are geographically similar and the bureaucracy is exactly the same. (A better term would be bribeaucracy.) As I read about Corinne's frustration with getting immigration papers sorted, I recalled how my low cut v-neck shirt got me a visa renewal when only a day earlier my scoop neck shirt was told it had to leave the country to renew my visa. (That's the power of the boobs, ladies!)

The beach at Kendwa, Northern Zanzibar

Memories I hadn't thought of in years came flooding back. The simple memories I don't pull out for dinner parties because there's no set story to entertain or inform those around me. Memories like the contentment of sitting on the shaded stoop of Susie's shop on a sunny day, drinking a coke baridi and chatting with the passersby I know. Or how looking at Mt. Meru as I left the baby home made the day complete.

The eastern wall of the Great Rift Valley. You can almost reach out and touch it.
I started dreaming in Swahili which is amazing because a) I haven't done that since five months after I came home and b) the only Swahili I remember when I'm awake is what I had to yell say to the children 18 times an hour - Stop it! Come here! No! Sit down! No hitting! Lunch/Dinner time! Go potty?, pretty standard toddler sentences - or basic greetings. In my dreams, however, I recalled a lot more. Although I'm more than willing to concede that most of the 'Swahili' I was dreaming in was probably my mind making up appropriate sounds. But there were a few actual words I was able to recall upon waking up.

The streets of Stone Town, empty during Ramadan.
Invigorated by these six relearned words, my Swahili hip hop* and Bongaflava downloads found their way back into my music rotation. Because obviously, if I'm dreaming in Swahili, I'm f*cking fluent! Baby Bro interviewed me for his paper on the education system in Tanzania while another friend invited me over for Ethiopian takeout and a movie set in Kenya (based on a true story... and you should totally watch it). The Amazing Race - the only reality show I would ever want to be on - headed to Tanzania and even went through a town I remember fondly, Mto wa Mbu (which is not what you'd expect someone to say about a town named 'river of mosquitos'. And for the record: mmm-toe wa mmm-boo). All these little reminders of Africa kept popping up.

Hard at work teaching me Swahili patty cake rhymes.

So here I sit with John Wayne humanely catching monkeys in the background while I stare at travel brochures for East Africa advertising trips I can't afford. Oh, to stand up in the jeep as it bumps its way down to the Ngorongoro Crater floor. To jump out of the dhow and wade ashore with my bag on my head as old fishermen fix their nets in the shade of the old Portuguese fort at Kilwa Kisiwani. To watch the sun set on cloudless Kilimanjaro as I eat dinner with Mama Musa, Hadija and the rest of the nannies. To barter with a stall keeper and then watch him charge the other tourists more because they don't greet him in Swahili.

To sit on the shaded stoop of Susie's shop on a sunny day, drinking a coke baridi and chatting with the passersby I know.

View from the ridge of Ngorongoro Crater after our game drive.

*The Hip Hop group I linked to, X Plastaz, is known because they rap in Swahili and Maa (the language of the Masai). The song I linked to doesn't have a video but it's the first X Plastaz song I ever heard and I love the use of the Masai throat singing in the background.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Then Things Got Really Nerdy

So I went to Seattle and this happened. (Not my photo album.) The Emerald City ComiCon was my first ever Nerdapalooza Comic Book Convention. It took all of about an hour milling about waiting for Wil Wheaton's 90-minute Awesome Hour for me to decided to return next year. It took all of an hour and five minutes to decide that I would make a costume for next year.

Yeah, you read that right! Costume. Nothing elaborate just something a bit more fitting of the event.

The whole weekend was fantastic. While I could have made a better use of my time overall (chalk it up to being a convention n00b), I crossed off everything on my 'must do' list. I attended the above mentioned Awesome Hour, the Walking Dead panel, met The Oatmeal and got his autograph (and a personalized drawing of me in which 5'3" me became a giraffe... um, alright then) before this happened:

I met Wil Wheaton! I met Wil Wheaton! I met Wil Wheaton!

He was my first celebrity crush when I was 10 so it was kind of a big deal for me. While waiting in line, I practiced a few short soundbites I could rattle off when I got up there. You made being a geek cool for me as a teen. I hate that you've already read The Bloggess's book, you lucky bastard. I love that you love hockey, but why the Kings? WHY? Can you tell Aaron Douglas that I have a Doug and the Slugs CD for him. (Okay, maybe not that last one. That was a twitter moment between me and Aaron that's best not shared with the world... outside of twitter... and Edward James Olmos who was with Aaron at the time.) I got up to the table, selected the picture, said hello and my name, and then stared at my shoes.

Because I'm cool like that.

The only really bum part of the weekend was remembering how awesome Seattle is and not really getting to see it. We made it down to Pike Place Market for a wander and then dinner on Saturday night, but I didn't really see Seattle. I've decided I need to take a long weekend sometime soon and head back.

You'd think that returning to Victoria was the end of my geeky good times. Scratch that, GGT will never end. You'd think that returning to Victoria was the end of my Wil Wheaton good times, but it wasn't! Last Thursday, Wil tweeted/facebooked/social media'ed a couple of Walking Dead references about "where's Carl? He's not in the house." Shortly after the Carl comments, he turned his attention to the LA Kings game with a comical suggestion of who should have dressed for the line up that night. I responded.

That made my night. In fact, it made my whole damn day. Even better? It happened on my birthday. Wil Wheaton laughed at my joke on my birthday. Happy 32nd year to me!

Big thanks to the folks at ECCC for putting on an awesome weekend. Big thanks to Wil for being just as funny and cool as 10 year old me always thought he was.

And a big 'up yours' to the restaurant in our hotel for completely ignoring us for 15 minutes despite less that 50% capacity. Our food was pretty damn fantastic at the other restaurant anyway so I guess it sort of worked out.

Friday, March 30, 2012

While I Run Away to Seattle This Weekend...

...a few thoughts on geek-hood from the always awesome Simon Pegg.

[Found via Wil Wheaton but originally from here]

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

I'm Tired and Cranky. This Is What You Get

I had a couple of book reviews I wanted to write up tonight.

And I wanted to talk about my love of the new show GCB (totally my guilty pleasure).

And how I'm five episodes in to rewatching the entire Star Trek: The Next Generation because that show was such a huge part of my childhood so I've decided to watch an episode a night for the next, oh, eight months or so until I'm done. (Eight months is longer than it should take me at an episode a night, but I'm allowing for nights of going out.)

And how Game of Thrones comes back on Sunday but I won't be able to watch it because I'll be in Seattle ::sadface:: for the Emerald City Comicon ::happyface::

And that if I don't end the weekend with Wil Wheaton phoning security to remove me from his room, I've totally failed in my objectives.

I'm kidding!

I just plan to hang around his table until he gets creeped out and asks security to remove me from the entire convention.

Again, just kidding!


Obviously, I had a lot I wanted to write about, but my computer is being a total twat and just ate my last post before crashing... twice. So instead, you get this:

On the Origin of Species by Charles Darwin
Been on my too-read for a long time. Really glad I did. Found it fascinating. Recommend it if you have an interest in science... otherwise it can be a bit dense and dull. I highly recommend getting an annotated edition because he often references other scientists/science papers from that era.

They Fight Like Soldiers, They Die Like Children by Romeo Dallaire
Started reading this last year. Got a little emotional so I put it down... for 11 months. So, so good (but I will always recommend Shake Hands with the Devil first). I tip my hat because the man can also craft some good fiction in amongst his fabulous non-fiction.

Malachy McCourt's History of Ireland by Malachy McCourt
Loved it. It was written very much like an oral history. I felt like I was sitting down with Mr. McCourt at a table in a bar as he told me the stories. My dad, who is no big fan of the McCourt brothers (and I'll talk about that in another post with another book review), even loves it. There's a line in the book which sums it up nicely (and I'm paraphrasing because my dad has the book at the moment): You should know by now that in Irish history, whether or not something is true is not as important as whether or not it makes a good story.

Playing With Fire by Theoren Fluery
If you like hockey, read this book. If you are curious of the thought process of someone dealing with being sexual abused as a child, read this book. If you want to better understand the mind frame of an addict, read this book. I'm not going to talk about him being some great writer (because he's not, although he is good), but his honesty and openness about what he went through is incredible. He lays his entire life out for everyone to view and he doesn't sugar coat any of it. Loved this book.

There are more books but these are the only ones I feel like mentioning now that I'm tired, cranky, and hating my computer so why write about the books I wasn't enamoured with? And, because no one wants to end on a downer, I found another craft project online that I want the pattern for:

They even put a bumb on Worf's forehead! *squee!*

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

A Couple of Late Night Thoughts

I had intentions to actually write a proper post earlier to evening but it got so late I reached a feck-it-I'll-do-it-tomorrow stage. I made the mistake of doing one last random web search before heading to bed when I came across two things worth sharing.

First, if you're a zombie fan (and who isn't, these days?) and you're in England (or have random money lying around which you've just been itching to waste on a last minute flight) then you should know about a zombie killing adventure in Reading. You and your friends/fellow survivors, get a bit of hands on training with the weapons and then you have 2.5 hours in a closed shopping mall with a horde of ravenous recently deceased yet ambulatory individuals.

As much as I think I want to do this, I also know that I a) startle very easily so I'd probably just hide in a broom closet and b) giggle constantly when my adrenaline is going. In short, I'd get myself and everyone around me 'killed' telling knock-knock jokes to the infected janitor. I'd rather hole up in a nearby pub and watch the events unfold on a couple of CC cameras.

Second, a cousin recently passed along a link to In the Name of the Fada, a six-part documentary about an Irish-American comedian, Des Bishop, who decides to learn Irish. I've been watching the series on YouTube and it's been a good laugh. I'd encourage anyone with even a passing interest in Ireland to check it out. But that's not why I'm telling you about it. I'm telling you about it because Des decided to translate and perform "Jump Around" as Gailge. Enjoy.