... is nothing like this:
Well, no shit. It's at night and there isn't a jury. Why the hell did you think jury panel would be like Night Court? And did you really think Dan would be there?
No, if there was a sitcom about jury panel it would be of a waiting room where ... nothing happens. It's a room filled with of a couple hundred people, all bored out of their skull. Someone would turn the page of their book, someone else would cough, someone would get up to use the washroom and everyone would watch them walk by. (Cue the laugh track.) That said, it would still be more entertaining than any Chuck Lorre sitcom.
So far, none of us has seen the inside of a courtroom, with the exception of us all having watched the extremely dated 1982-ish era instructional video on our first day that explained how the court system worked. The only thing I paid attention to was the big hair and shoulder pads of the women in that video. So, in that sense, it has been a little bit like Night Court, in the Markie Post fashion department sense.
Sigh. Why can't civic duty come with wi-fi? Or magazines that were printed after 2002? Or cake? I'd take cake.
31 May 2011
... is nothing like this:
30 May 2011
Think I have time to swing by a convenience store in the gay village to pick up a Playgirl? Because that's actually the craziest bit about Liz Lemon's Getting Out of Jury Duty character - she's a lady with a Playgirl.
It's not that I really want to get out of jury duty - it's something I've always thought could be a neat experience. But could the timing be any more crap? I'm self-employed and swamped with work, in the midst of selling my home and just recovering from a rather nasty bout of pneumonia AND bronchitis (yep).
But most importantly, Robert Pattinson is in my neighbourhood right now shooting a film and I should really be out there stalking him.
26 May 2011
Our condo will officially be on the market today! Want to see what a few years of slow renovations and a few days of frantic cleaning will do to a place? Here are some pictures (and you know how I "joke" about living in an IKEA showroom? See if you can count all the IKEA stuff in these pictures. It's humiliating!).
As you know, I find cupcakes a tad overrated, and so I went with a simple glazed donut display instead. It's as much a political statement on desserts and a show of my support of the pro-donut movement as it is a mouth-watering feature:
And while Patrick
The dining area:
The living room:
While we tried to neutralize the place as much as possible, there are still little hints of our personality here and there. I couldn't help it:
I'm just glad that it isn't customary to post pictures of the owners along with their property. Ours would NEVER sell. Over the last few days, I've been looking more and more like Khalid Sheikh Mohammed in a Land's End dress and a pedophile pin. Can't envision that? Here you go; my MS Paint wizardry is at your service:
Kinda not kidding. You can't tell me there isn't a certain resemblance between KSM's tired I-hate-this-shit frown and the unhappy and bagged look I get now and again.
And that's on the days that I bothered to acknowledge that I was a female. Most of the time I wore a "working around the house" outfit that is about two degrees worse than what most people wear camping but one degree better than what most people wear to Walmart.
But I digress (imagine that).
Should you be a serious buyer looking for an updated, awesomely laid out 1 bedroom + den apartment with very reasonable condo fees in the most amazeballs neighbourhood in Toronto where the Financial District and the St. Lawrence Market meet, do contact my real estate agent and book an appointment!
25 May 2011
My beloved former roommate Will used to describe things he was doing by likening the activity to a banshee. A sample sentence of this would be "Oh, I'm going to eat this like a banshee" or "I was sweating like a banshee trying to catch the streetcar." He'll probably kill me for using those real-life examples. Of course, it makes no sense to say these things, as a banshee is a screeching Irish ghost that wails when someone is about to die. They're not particularly known for gorging on cheese or perspiring through their shirts. (And if Will didn't want to kill me before, pretty sure he wants to now.)
But I can say with confidence that for the last few days, I have been cleaning like a banshee, moaning and howling as if I was going to die. My 50s Housewife Experiment, my mother's neat-freakisms and my rich Spanish and Portuguese heritage combined have failed to prepare me for the amount of work it would take to get our home presentation-worthy to put on the market. Depersonalizing, packing, decluttering, deep cleaning, moving furniture around, more deep cleaning based on what was revealed under said furniture, and then 'beautifying' took us a solid four days of dedicated work. I'll show you the pics of the result of this effort soon - probably tomorrow. All I have to say is that it had better be frigging worth it - I missed
so much TV hanging out with friends because of this.
Since we've been so distracted with this banshee of a task, grocery shopping and cooking were nowhere on the radar. I honestly can't even tell you what I ate in the last few days as it was a total blur. I believe a sandwich artist was involved in at least one meal. And there were pretzels at one point. Maybe an apple.
The proof of this lack of food shopping can be found by looking in my fridge at the collection of edibles I like to call This Is Why You Have Acid Reflux:
So, condiments galore. Then assorted pickled peppers. And pickles. And Red Bull. And beer. And Pizza Pizza creamy garlic dipping sauce. And Parmesan cheese. Yup, all the food groups are well represented there. Before people come to look at our house I'm going to get a few things (oh, like, VEGETABLES) so that anyone who spots our fridge contents doesn't immediately think bad things about what our toilet encounters day in and day out.
And since it's 50s Housewife Experiment Anniversary Days, I'll naturally compare this to what the 50s housewife would have in her fridge, if you're to believe the May 1959 issue of Better Homes and Gardens:
This 1959 General Electric ad showcases all the great food you can store in it - like "MEATS", milk, cake, Coca Cola and a mystery bowl of something green and pink that you'll surely horrify your family with:
Any guesses? I'd like to believe that's just the design of her casserole dish, but I think we all know better by now, having experienced the wackiness that is 1950s cooking. I'm thinking it's a cabbage salad with frankfurters that is called something misrepresentative like "Deli Delight".
But even further down the ad is where the true WTF Gold lies:
20 May 2011
In case you missed it, we bought a house! Eeee! We currently own the condo we're in (which we need to sell on the double, yeep!) but the process of finding and bidding on a house was nothing like our previous real estate experience. If there's any truth to what's in my magazine collection it was nothing like how they bought homes in the 1950s either.
Within the May 1959 issue of Better Homes & Gardens is a four-page document called "The Smart Way To Buy A House" that covered all the things someone should do and consider when purchasing a home. The act of buying a home in the 1950s apparently also involved going elbowless and bending one's arms like Mr. Tickle:
Who needs arm bones when you have property? Not us! Hurrah!
Anyway, this document went on to explain all the important things a 50s housewife (and her husband. Buying a home without a husband? Insanity!) was to consider when making a real estate decision. The article suggests that it is a careful process that took a fair amount of time, involved lots of sit-down meetings that you wore a hat to, and was a rather even-paced affair.
In other words, nothing at all like our last few days. We were in no big rush to find a new place, but the timing was pretty good - our mortgage term is up this summer, interest rates are low and while we love our home and location, a bit more space (especially outdoor space) would be nice to have. And so we ventured into the dogfight that is Toronto real estate.
Now, it's not that we weren't systematic, clear and reasonable in our thinking. It's just that things move much faster and prices jump much quicker and homes are sometime that much older (with weird rooms, funny inspection notes and unexpected features). You have to really get your head around the fact that a small and dank home will still go for a half million dollars. I know - it's nothing compared to homes in New York and parts of Europe, or even parts of Vancouver, but dude! One place we looked had a lot size of only 20' wide sold for over $600k. Ugh. The Toronto market is pretty healthy, so bidding wars and multiple offer situations are common, so if you're dead-set on a place, it's easy to get all emotional and nutbagged and start thinking you need to pay way more for it than you're able to. We didn't get that bad, but we sure were involved in a few offers that planted the seeds of crazy.
So like the image above suggests, Patrick and I sat down, put all our money in little stacks on the table and figured out our budget. In reality, our money is really just electronic data; X number of dollars showing in this account, Y number of dollars in that account. In fact, I can guarantee you that I have more Canadian Tire money than I have bills in my wallet at the moment.
Anyway, the advice they gave in 1959 is actually pretty smart - to take what you can afford each month - add a few zeros to the end of it - and that's the mortgage you should apply for. This is of course nothing like what the mortgage lenders are willing to give you today - which is roughly three to four times your household annual income. Patrick and I are fortunate and comfortable but by no means are we rolling in the money. Anyone who thinks freelance writing is a fast-track to wealth is off their ass. But even though we don't make that much, if we actually got as big of a mortgage as we've been approved for, we would be so incredibly house poor. I'd become that person who goes into McDonalds just to steal ketchup packs and napkins, hits up the drugstore and uses their display sample make-up to get ready each day, and we'd have to get dial-up Internet. Of those things, the latter is easily the most dehumanizing.
With finances established, we then got a sense of the neighbourhood we could afford. With homes being as expensive as they are, it was a choice between Shitdive Drive, Crackhead Valley or Scarborough. Just kidding - we would never consider Scarborough.
Ok, so our neighbourhood choices really weren't all that bad - but they were definitely areas that when I first arrived in Toronto nearly 11 years ago as a spry, young 20-something, I probably wouldn't have been too wild about. But now as a 30-something looking to buy a house? Areas near Dufferin and Dupont and a few spots that crossed the DVP (the big leap!) looked like mecca.
You know what I think has changed the real estate game forever? Google Street View. It is the most amazing tool ever to get a sense of some areas, and more importantly, spy on the people that could be your neighbours. We've declined seeing some places just because of what the Google car happened to capture on its fateful drive that day. Even though a part of me thought, "Hmm, that would make for some good blogging," the idea of living next to people who stand on their street while wearing a Tyler Durdin-style bathrobe was too much of a turn-off to ignore. I mean, if you're willing to wander around looking like that (and not be Brad Pitt), you're probably not too far off from being the guy who goes door to door asking if we have any cigarette butts he could have (True story: A friend's neighbour once did this, because he liked to roll his own cigarettes from the dredges of butts he'd find on the street. When he discovered our friend was a smoker, he'd come by now and again to see if he (the crazy dude) could have the butts. They came to an arrangement where our friend would leave his butts in a jar on his porch that the neighbour could help himself to. Is that classy, or what?).
The Searchlight Homemaking Guide had some additional tips when it came to finding the right neighbourhood:
Under the strange title of "Freedom", the guide warns about moving next to a glue factory. How much glue were people in the 1950s making that this needed a specific warning? As modern life would have it, we actually considered a condo in a building that is a former glue factory. Oh, how our 1950s contemporaries would have mocked us. Whatever, 1950s jerks, enjoy your asbestos siding.
The advice also suggests looking into the school district. As we're sans children, this isn't a big deal to us, but should we ever have
We dun learn yer kin real good at Chester. Hyuck, hyuck! We dun gots ourselves a libary 'n everythang!
So ... homeschooling it is.
Once you've narrowed down your budget and ideal locations, "The Smart Way To Buy A House" suggests using their rather extensive checklist to determine your needs and wants that you'd then compare to what the home you're considering actual offers. The article provided three pages of these checklists, about the overall home and each room, to review. An example of this is below:
They even had a sub-heading of "Working" - and for a glimmering moment I thought that they already had the foresight in the 1950s to consider that people might work from home and need a decent den or study area for those purposes. I was wrong:
Women's Work. And Men's Work. I especially like that they suggest that "When you want to sew or mend, will there be a cheerful, private place?" I can see why they would suggest this; My attempts to hem pants (which may or may not have eventually involved me saying "fuck it" and grabbing a stapler) truly did require me to "go to a happy place" so as to not scare my husband away.
But do you think we turned to this long list of criteria and thoughtfully checked things off when we were doing our actual home hunt? Hell no. With the market being busy and people crawling on top of each other at open houses and scheduled showings, we were more like, "IS THIS PLACE GOOD OR IS THIS BAD? DECIDE NOW." Nearly every place we went to had a set offer date, so there wasn't a whole lot of time to mull and dawdle and nit-pick over how "pleasant" and "cheerful" each room was. It was more like being a sniper - you have a limited opportunity for a given home - and you either pull the trigger or you don't.
Working at a gay newspaper those years ago has truly ruined me. I can't see words like "cruise favorite neighborhoods" or "take the family car and cruise" without thinking of men roaming around open houses looking for anonymous sex with other men. Actually, I have a weird feeling that does happen.
But - anyhoo - in our own way, we did "cruise" the hoods. We mostly did all this with our intrepid real estate agent, who has got to be the most assertive, strategic driver I have ever met. She could make a killing teaching a course (preferably to cab drivers) on how to get around Toronto the fastest way possible without getting in a head-on collision. Finding side streets, turning around on a dime, magically never hitting a light, parking in tiny spots - it was all very exciting. And of course, she's just as great and assertive and strategic at the actual job of finding, buying and selling homes - because, hey, success! The place we eventually got was just our third offer, which is actually pretty good for Toronto. Most people we know who got a house in the city had to go through the process five, ten, even twenty times before landing a deal. So three? I'll take that!
And soon it will be time to pay for this all:
But it was worth it. I think. I hope. And come mid-July, we'll be attempting to do this with our limbs in front of our very own home:
17 May 2011
And look how many of you around the world checked it out during all that time! How cool is that?
So thank you so much for reading and sharing this blog! It has been super
Since doing the first experiment, my 1950s collection has grown a little bit. As you can imagine, Patrick is super impressed every time there's a package waiting for me.And by 'super impressed', I mean that he realizes what a ridiculous woman he married and rolls his eyes and hopes that beneath the craft paper packaging is not a cookbook devoted entirely to jellied meats.
Along with more magazines (particularly Ladies' Home Journal, Better Homes & Gardens and Woman's Day issues), I also picked up more Good Housekeeping cookbooks to create a completed set, the iconic Betty Crocker Picture Cook Book, a 1952 Sears catalog, some martial advice books, a book of budget tips, and even a 1950s homemaker book for Jewish women. Oy vey!:
If you're as nerdly as me, you'll die when you see my burgeoning 1940s wartime and 1960s collection. SO. GOOD. I really can't wait to share my plans with you about what I'll do with those!
Before you ask - and a few of you have - no, I have no plans to sell them. They are willed to my dear sister whether she likes it or not. I'm sure she'll
Last week I figured I would do a full 1950s day in honour of this special moment on my blog (and, wow, that sounds obnoxious. Special moment on the blog? Ugh.). I imagined that I'd go crazy on the cleaning schedule, make something ridiculous from the cookbooks, get my hair done at the salon, and stop driving my husband into the arms of another women. Just for a day.
However, things got all kinds of nutballs. I had client work and meetings scheduled back to back (and I know that I'm lucky as someone self-employed to be able to say that) but even moreso, we had one big thing happen yesterday that needed my cell-phone using, Internet-connected, not-busy-cleaning-the-toilet attention:
We bought a house!
I know it looks tiny (OK, it is tiny) but it's still in the city, super close to the subway and just right for us. We can't wait to make it our home this summer. Until then, we have lots to do (like sell our current place, gah) and will hopefully keep you updated along the way!
Because it's "50s Housewife Anniversary Days" here, I hope to share a little something every or every other day from my collection - some of which I'll try to tackle in "real life" like I did during the experiment.
In light of my recent home purchase news, I'd like to start this off by sharing the 1957
If anyone can tell me what they think the "commissioned statue" is around 9:12, I'd be keen to hear your theories.
Stay tuned, more '50s housewife and '50s life stuff to come this week and next!
Image Source: Pin-It Advertisement, circa 1959
16 May 2011
Just a quick note: Blogger - which is the thing I use to write such amazing dribble - was majorly screwed for the last few days. Because of that, comments to the site from last week along with a surely destined-for-greatness post of mine got erased. This is the saddest thing ever because your comments are my crack. They may all just be from one person - possibly my father - who simply keeps posting with different usernames, but I'm still totally cool with that. That's how pathetic and needy my Internet-based ego is.
Anyway, I don't want anyone out there thinking that I'm the one erasing comments. You'd have to call me way fatter names before I did that.
Here's something that will make us all feel better - Dave Gahan of Depeche Mode doing a cover of Joy Division's "Love Will Tear Us Apart" (Side-note: The person who says "No way!" near the beginning sounds exactly like how I imagine all Californian men sound like. And low and behold, this concert was in Los Angeles, thus confirming that all of the presumptions I have about large groups of people are always right):
Special thanks to Matt for posting that clip on his Facebook! I've since watched it a billion times.
I therefore have big hopes for xoJane and so should you! Now let's all waste the afternoon on it together!
14 May 2011
I very rarely go to the movies. I am much more of a TV person - I mean, it's *right* there and I don't have to put
Hype can do horrible things to a movie, and the kind of hype Bridesmaids was getting was the worst kind: A Film That Will FINALLY Prove Lady Comedy Is Actually Funny. Or my personal unfavourite: "The Hangover for Girls".
I told myself I wasn't going to wade into this dumb discussion, but here I am - not simply wading but belly flopping with my mouth wide open (its default position). So this will probably hurt and I might have to throw up after.
See, I thought The Hangover *was* for girls because I - and nearly every woman I know - found it funny and entertaining (so much so that we own the Blu-Ray). There wasn't anything in that movie that was an exclusively "guy" experience that I had to later shamefully
I've also never needed any persuading that women are funny. Every article that has tackled this topic, especially lately, has gone on to
And this movie also supposedly "finally" shows that women can be crude? Whoever is having a revelation about ladies being lewd has not spent much quality time around chicks. My female friends are WAY more raunchy - and more creatively and originally so - than nearly any man I know. It's not because women are more genius at gross jokes, it's purely anatomical: we have one extra hole that a range of disgusting stuff comes out of and into that gives us way more material (heh) to use. And this is a generalization, but I also think that once the trust is there, women have a quicker and greater capacity to be embarrassingly honest with one another, and it's really in those reveals that the truly crude, hilarious stuff is born. I have heard shit out of women's mouths about poop, farts, sex, kids, miscarriages, violence, minorities, the impaired and Justin Bieber that would make the average man clutch his pearls.
And so for me, this was just a movie and not a statement. So with that unnecessary diatribe over, on with the review, yes?
Kristen Wiig was everything I wish she was on SNL - funny. I appreciate that in a comedy. While there are scenes where she successfully goes for the wacky (like in the parts where she's drunk on the airplane, or the very funny scene where she's trying to get a cop's attention), she's never a full-blown cartoon like she normally is on the sketch show - and that's really refreshing. She's actually a pretty fantastic actress with a lot more range than I think people give her credit for - although if you care about the quality of the hours you're spending on earth, I'd skip MacGruber. For a little while there she even made me forget that people as pretty and slender as her can't possibly have problems. Kidding. I know attractive people are just like the rest of us.
The tone the movie would take was tested right away in a scene near the beginning where Annie (Wiig) and Lillian (Maya Rudolph) are sitting in a restaurant discussing Annie's booty call from the night before. I felt myself tense up.
"Oh, fuck, please, no, not a Sex and the City scene," I thought to myself. Or maybe out loud. I really, really hate Sex and the City. I very well may have actually screamed that.
And thankfully, it was nothing like it. Instead of shitty, predictable puns said by people way, way, way too old to have anything new to say about blowjobs, there was giddy, relatable mocking of the male anatomy. It was very much in the way real women talk about such things except that Wiig can pull better facial expressions than most of us can.
I also really liked that a lot of actors were willing to throw themselves under the bus for a laugh: Jon Hamm's atrocious sex faces (so not Don Draper), Wiig's sweaty stance against her food poisoning, Melissa McCarthy's horrendously unflattering wardrobe, actually, Melissa McCarthy's everything (her "sandwich scene" as the credits rolled got a lot of howls mixed with dry heaves from the audience). Looking unattractive for the sake of comedy will always, always get my respect (which is maybe why I love SNL-alum Rachel Dratch so much. I don't think people realize how cute she actually is, given that she sacrifices her femininity so willingly when the part demands it. I still laugh when I think of her in a sketch as Cheb Mami - that little dude who sings with Sting in "Desert Rose". For the love of God, someone, please get that on YouTube).
There were a few disappointments in the movie. I've probably mentioned it before, but I like my comedy like I like my politicians - smarter than me. I'm therefore kind of disappointed whenever I see the gag coming or say the punchline before they do. It's why I can't fucking tolerate Jay Leno. Super formulaic set-up, predictable punchline every time. When I watch The Tonight Show, I shout out the next line as if I were watching Celebrity Jeopardy. No, Celebrity Teen Jeopardy. That's how not-smarter-than-me The Tonight Show is. Anyway, there were a couple moments in Bridesmaids where I was said to myself, "... and now she'll say xyz" or "and now xyz will happen" and it did and that made me sad. But that's probably just my hangup.
The pacing of the movie was also kind of odd and that's what truly separated it from a flick like The Hangover, far more than gender-based casting choices did. The Hangover was just bang-bang-bang-bang with the next joke or gag with no real message other than "FRIENDS ARE AWESOME!" and "CRAZY IS HILARIOUS!". In Bridesmaids, it's not all comedy. There's a depressing series of scenes (with no gimmick) relaying the sadness Annie feels when she realizes she's a loser, a sweet and silent moment where she appreciates her mom, and the awkwardness of Lillian (the bride) having to take some of the wedding-related responsibilities away from Annie. While this all made the characters and story more real, it broke up the comedic flow and felt like the story was shifting gears, sometimes to a place I wasn't in the mood to go. So if you were someone who was only looking for a pure RaunchCom, you may have left a bit disappointed. That said, this isn't The Hangover, it's a Judd Apatow / Paul Feig movie - and that makes more sense when you think about the kinds of movies they do.
The last little critique is that we didn't see enough of Ellie Kemper, who has totally won me over on The Office despite the fact I was all, "Who is this bitch? She's no Pam!" when she first showed up on the show. Yay, Ellie! Please demand more lines next time.
So, overall? I would give it a B, but it gets bumped to a B+ for having a soundtrack that includes a great cover by Nouvelle Vague and a Hole song that I played on repeat when I was in high school. And I think a B+ is worth the effort of putting on undergarments and going outside, especially if you're just going to take it as it is - a decently funny movie that just so happens to have a strong female cast. Nothing more, nothing less.