Friday, January 21, 2011

How Iron Maiden Taught Me a Lesson.

Last night we caught a very fun and inspiring documentary on the Sundance Channel. "Flight 666" is about Iron Maiden, and an epic tour they did a few years ago, covering countries and continents in just a few months. Not only were they flying huge distances between shows, but their lead singer, Bruce Dickinson, was also piloting the huge jet that took them there. Unlike the recent documentary about Metallica, in which the band had to enter group therapy because they were at each other's throats, "Flight 666" is incredibly sweet. This real-life Spinal Tap may sing about the Devil, but on their time off they visit tourist sites together, bring their teenaged kids on the road, and even... golf (they have Iron Maiden golf bags for heaven's sake!). The scene that really made me smile was one where they're somewhere in Mexico, visiting a Mayan ruin. They all go down into the tunnels beneath one of the temples and you're thinking okay, this is where they get all satanic and sacrifice a goat or something. In the underground dark, the drummer cups a candle in his hands and... makes a wish for his friends' health and happiness. When you see footage of them on stage in front of thousands of writhing fans, their delight in what they're doing shines through in their huge grins.
I ran into an acquaintance a while ago, a musician I respect. He was making a living playing in a band with some other aging rock stars, members of a fairly high-profile Canadian group. "They all need lawyers to talk to each other," he said. "When they need to make a decision everyone has to vote and argue and it takes forever."
I thought of that group as I was watching the Maiden documentary. How some cling stubbornly to one way of life because it is lucrative, or because it is the only way they know, even though it brings them pain and puts them into conflict with people they once liked. And how other people can be following the exact same way of life, and still be doing it with joy and enthusiasm. If I have one wish for 2011 it is that I have the courage to let go of things that are not working and also the courage to keep putting the effort into things that do work.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

So yeah, I'm kind of missing Winnipeg. Which may not be a sentence you hear much in Canada during the winter. I'm not doing all that much and yet everyday some money flies away and there's not any coming in (except for my Climate Action tax credit- thank you Revenue Canada!) and that makes a girl worry, a little bit. Maybe it's also because the boyfriend got us a giant flatscreen TV, which I'd been grimly fighting against for years, only to discover that we can has Netflix now and I'm in danger of turning into a drooling couch potato. (We watched 13 episodes of 'Mad Men' in something like 2 days. Maybe three.)
I won't lie: it is hard to know that you were arbitrarily replaced by Management because they wanted more local talent in their show and you spend the whole month knowing that because of this whim, someone else is doing your job with your friends and earning your money. I'm kind of mad, but not at my replacement, because I've met her and she seems really sweet and (I know this is mean, but-) she's not as good as I was. But I miss my friends and the sense of purpose you have when you're working. Definitely this is one of the downsides of a career like mine.
Okay, but... yesterday J and I got it right. There was sleeping in, and breakfast together, and a nice walk down the Drive, and best of all... dinner. Which was (drumroll please) mushroom & feta-stuffed ravioli with a lovely pesto sauce washed down with a bottle of red wine.

Doesn't this look amazing? And it was made from scratch, ladies and gents. Applause please.

Even better, there was laughter and conversation with the dinner. And instead of sluggishly watching TV for hours we picked one interesting move (Jules & Jim, anyone? French New Wave classic or just kind of weird? Discuss.) And so to bed.

Today I'm meeting an old friend to reconnect after many years. And in one of the upsides to a career like mine, I have free tickets to a bunch of plays coming up, which should get me away from the TV for a while.
Am I missing Winnipeg? Maybe, but there's enough happening here to keep me happy. Now if I could just find an interesting job...

Friday, January 14, 2011


I try to avoid making profound statements over on Facebook; hell, I try to avoid getting too wrapped up in the whole Facebook thing at all, especially now I've seen The Social Network. But on New Year's Day, only mildly hungover, I wrote something like This year I will be: kinder. happier. friendly. fearless.
Fearless is not necessarily about taking giant risks, although it can be. For me, this year, being fearless means getting out of the ruts that keep me confined. It could mean selling myself a little harder so I get that job. Or believing in myself enough to keep going back to the gym.
I just came back from the cold prairies, where I practiced fearlessness in little ways that were nevertheless really rewarding. I got outside, even though it was cold and dry. I walked miles every day; I skated on the Red River, where the city and the sky made a beautiful backdrop. I made an effort to see new friends, people I don't know all that well who were flatteringly happy to see me. And I spent time getting to know an old friend better, all because I had the courage to say let's get together.
I know these things probably seem so small and easy, but even little things can take effort, if they're things you're not used to doing. I'm going to try and do a few things every week that are outside my comfort zone, and if they're interesting, I'll write about them here.
How will YOU be fearless in 2011?

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Cheese Puffs Vanquish... Everything.

It would be easy to look at this period of the new year as a glass-half-empty time, if I were so inclined. But although I don't make resolutions per se, I have decided to look on the bright side of things this year. After all, there is so much to be grateful for right now. I may not have a job, but I have some money saved, for a change. The Post-Holiday Blues may lurk, but the the new year is about fresh starts, which is exhilarating. I may not be working, but that gives me more time to develop my own projects and schemes. I have already had the time and energy to try snowshoeing (which was heavenly, and I will definitely go again as soon as possible), hit the gym, and wander 'round East Van taking pictures with my new iPod retro camera apps, which are terribly fun, and make even the most pedestrian picture look fabulous. I may be finished with 'Brief Encounter', which is kind of hard, because I know that right now, they are rehearsing without me in Winnipeg, and a new accordion player is taking my place. And that is hard to take, quite frankly, because I really could have used that job. But on the plus side, I fly to Winnipeg on Thursday to visit my mom and see the show as an audience member. How many times do we get the opportunity to see shows that we have been in? Not too often, believe me. See how this works? I feel happier already.
And then there are cheese puffs.

Actually, they are technically Green Onion & Cheddar Puffs, but I made them with Cheshire Cheese, because that is what we had in the fridge. Along with some quite frankly past-it green onions, but since the oven makes even fresh onions limp, it didn't really matter. A large mug of coffee, 1/2 a dozen of these on a plate, and you are instantly happier than you were before. I guarantee it.
(You can see the recipe here. It's easy, fast, and utterly delicious. Plus it's hard to stay glum when the smell of them baking fills the air.)

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Okay, so I bailed on the whole Reverb 10 thing. I was enjoying it, but then there was an epic cast party that lasted until after 4am, and the next day was Christmas Eve, and then Christmas Day was upon us, and... well, you get the idea. It's like someone blindfolded me and bundled me in the Christmas Truck and we bumped along so fast that I was just saying hey guys, it's okay, I like this but can we slow down a little? when it all ended and here I am on New Year's Day in a clean and newly de-Christmassed apartment. Wondering where it all went.
It's always a sad day for me when I have to take down the decorations. Compounded this year by the fact that we had a real tree. I actually thanked it before I broke it in two and stuffed it into a garbage bag. It's lying next to me on the floor, rather like a body. It has to be disguised because we're not actually allowed to have Christmas trees in our place and I don't want to get evicted.
How was Christmas for you, anyway? Mine was fast, as I said, but fun. Too much drinking and rich food, of course. A few extra pounds on the old frame and not enough (not any, actually) trips to the gym. Lots of family and friends and a gig and the closing of my show.
Today it's sunny, and if the sun is still out tomorrow I'm going to get into the mountains and try snowshoeing for a few hours. The cards and lights may be gone, but tonight we visit friends for one more meal out, and my new fave cookies are chilling in the fridge so I can bake them up in a few hours. I can almost hear them whispering to me: A whole new year awaits; hang on to good friends and excellent cookies when you get the chance.