Sunday, June 29, 2008
Wednesday, June 25, 2008
i know this whole blog, our whole tour and my whole life are supposed to be about independent creativity, but when in rome one is wont to do what the romans do. and a trip to edmonton without experiencing "the world's biggest mall" (a claim i feel must be obsolescing to some new development in dubai) is a crime against all things industrialist/albertan. also, aitor had never been to west edmonton mall before and was told by our friend taz that you can shoot guns there...somewhere. for my own part, i wanted to buy some new underwear (with all apologies to indie crafters, y'all have yet to make a panty that can rival my old reliables).
aitor was ready for action and adventure, i was braced for the throngs of doughy teenagers and we set out on our voyage. a quick and surprising discovery about west edmonton mall is that it is littered with old-style photo booths (a great love of ours) in both colour and black and white. i guess west edmonton mall is just large enough to have bought/leased a bunch of these things but just outmoded enough to have kept them instead of replacing everything with cutesy japanese sticker machines.
we went for the black and white; they are getting harder to find.
i was planning on submitting a listing to this site i recently found that is aiming to catalogue photo booths worldwide. but when i got back to our dorms i realized i had broken some of their submission guidelines. i regret nothing! aitor's sock-gartered calves look the best in that booth.
this and buying my underwear comprised the high points of our trip.
aitor and i both immediately got the "shopping with mom" feeling that malls give us; we were (well, aitor was) getting gawked at by teenagers with faces full of metal and plastic bags sewn into their hair; and i experienced a pang of depression when i realized that there are sharks living under the mall in what can't amount to more than a hole in the prairies. but aitor did get to have an orange julius for the first time. oh, malls. what a bad place to vacation.
Tuesday, June 24, 2008
...to the douche bag who ran into my car while i was teaching at the theatre:
you obviously hit my car pretty hard. you must have noticed and then you just left. i feel your lack of personal responsibility will now begin to bleed into all parts of your life at an increasing rate. aside from the damage to your own car, i foresee a trend in your life away from deep connections with others. your family will grown disdainful of you and those you love will never trust or admire you enough to foster a reciprocal relationship. you will live a very long time and watch this process unfold before you until at a final arduous moment, all your errors will shine clearly into your mind and soul. this is the feeling you will spend eternity inhabiting.
Saturday, June 21, 2008
my laptop failed me yesterday and now needs repair.
i mention this in case any family members (mayte, that means you) are concerned about the radio silence on this blog.
we are well and happy and fed in edmonton and plan to continue in this manner for some time. i am here performing with and without other people at improvaganza while aitor keeps quite busy with nightly unflattering portraits of drunken comedians and other illustrative work.
i would also like to congratulate aitor on having his live stage debut today. he played a hard-up travelling mustache salesman in the improvised kids show, uncle grampa's northern jamboree, and was quite a great hit. it's a good thing he can back up those dashing good looks with jokes and mustache drawings.
Thursday, June 19, 2008
Wednesday, June 18, 2008
after such a brief but jam-packed visit to bruno, it came time for us to reassemble ourselves and shove off for edmonton (where i will be performing for ten days).
it was a sad goodbye to our new friends (for me, anyway) but at least we got to do some rabble rousing before our departure. serena has been holding on to an assignment she made (from learning to love you more). the assignment involved making a presentation about an artist and installing it in a public place. serena had made an installation about glen baxter but felt too shy to put it up on the town bulletin board (being one of the new weirdos in town). so when two new weirdos showed up, the time was right to put it up. you will also note that some market weight pigs have become available in the area. so, if you're hungry...
after wrenching ourselves away from bruno, we threw caution to the wind and decided to drive twenty minutes away from edmonton to visit the nearby town of humboldt. this was dumb because i had agreed to perform in a cabaret at 8:00pm in edmonton and we were already going to be cutting it close. but we've just fallen so deep in love with saskatchewan and it's not a place we often have the opportunity to find ourselves. we also heard there was good thifting there.
i'm glad we made the trip. the "humboldt goo neighbo store" was one of those just totally incredible out-in-the-middle-of-nowhere thrift store experiences. i bought a whole bunch of vintage buttons and (this is the crazy part) an avocado flour/sugar/coffee tin set with matching wall-mount paper towel/tin foil/cling wrap dispenser for $2. for the whole set! now just i have to figure out how it is going to get back to toronto.
we also made it to the varscona theatre just in time for the show. we pulled up to the back door, i said some hellos, talked to the tech, got into costume and the show began. and thus it starts anew. goodnight.
Tuesday, June 17, 2008
today our most gracious hosts treated us to a full day of rural tourism. really, we felt profoundly spoiled. i felt particularly treated, because i got to take a day off driving while tyler drove us around to see the sites. endless vistas aside, there are a surprising number of sites. oh, and speaking of driving - this is what boris' headlights looked like by daylight after driving in last night:
boris is the name of our car. he has probably earned a whole blog post, actually, but we can save that for a later date. maybe when we are in boring old vancouver not action-packed bruno...which gets us back to the story at hand.
we started off with a walking tour of bruno, a town that has all a town could need - post office, old-timey hoosgau, convent and western canada's largest dwarf sour cherry orchard. we also ended up getting a tour of the old hardware store (now the home of the family that runs the adjoining grocery) after inquiring about the amazing tin ceilings. as it turns out, these ceilings are in a whole row of buildings on main street. we noticed them in the drug store, too.
after our walk-around, we collected ourselves and then got in the trunk to go visit some important sites in the vicinity on the way to collect on a dinner/visit invitation from tyler's cousin-in-law, wendell.
first we went to a nearby ghost town (or near ghost town - people still live in farm houses there but the town part has been abandoned) called peterson. it seems there are a lot of places like this in rural saskatchewan; small towns that were able to support a few businesses when the grain trade was a little stronger and it was a little harder to get to the bigger towns and visit their growing number of big box stores.
in peterson, tyler also decided to go look in the windows of some old abandoned buildings on main street and then found a wood tick on his neck. more on that later.
after peterson, we went to look at the sawhill buffalo ranch - a ranch built on what used to be some sort of cold war radar base. apparently, the institutional buildings in the distance used to have big white spheres attached to their tops (there were also spheres scattered about the property), which made for quite a site. tyler told us that the ranch owner doesn't allow random people to come look around and take pictures anymore (and who can blame him? it's his home.) tyler also said that the rancher lives in the old curling rink of the base, it being one of the most stable and permanent buildings on the property. it is good to know that the army had their priorities in place when developing bases. i think i mean that honestly.
after that, we made our way to dana, a small hamlet not too far from bruno where serena and tyler first lived when they decided to make the leap from vancouver to saskatchewan. tyler's cousin-in-law (or just cousin; i'm not sure how that works), was pivotal in all of this. it was at wendell's wedding that tyler first visited dana and wendell let tyler and serena stay in his house when they first came out to the prairie.
this is wendell's son, john. he has some sick skateboard moves.
we also discovered that wendell makes little forms out of a substance called orgonite (related to the orgone boxes that william s. burroughs was so fond of sitting in). i had never heard of this wild invention before but it involves taking steel wool, metal shavings, crystals, wire and other whathaveyous and casting them all into molded resin. allegedly, these conglomerates can cleanse a space of bad energy. if you make them big enough, you can also blast a hole through overhead clouds and chem trails from airplanes. or so i am told. we have yet to try any experiments of our own. although serena and i did point these at our foreheads when nobody else was around. if wendell ever makes a new batch of these guys, they will be available at all citizens.
we ended our big day out with a trip to the mysterious totsky overpass. like peterson, totsky is another of these ubiquitous saskatchewan towns-that-aren't. only totsky really isn't there anymore. like at all. well, with the exception of this big concrete overpass that goes over nothing and connects with no roads.
of course, its non-existence doesn't stop totsky from appearing in driving directions, but that's another story. tyler says he's been asking around about the source of this structure and nobody seems to know anything. it seems to have run over train tracks, but this is also a place where train tracks cross the road even in towns. a google search for totsky only yielded one birth record from 1908. from what we could discern at our visit, it seems the overpass is currently being used by grad classes as a place to burn piles of wooden palettes. but it must have had a grander purpose at some point. if you know what that grander purpose was, please let us know.
oh yeah, and when we got home in the evening, tyler discovered he was covered in wood ticks (presumably picked up in peterson). it was a little creepifying and kept me eyeing my moles sideways all night. aitor was the big man and managed to extract the most attached one from tyler's leg. no more spelunking in abandoned buildings for us.
Monday, June 16, 2008
today started in a sluggish, belated manner with a repacking of the car and a shop visit to kustom kulture in winnipeg. they are now fully stocked with new sweetie pie buttons and sets for those in winnipeg looking to acquire some. after an obligatory late breakfast at stella's, we finally shoved off into the great wide open of our long drive into saskatchewan.
our destination was the all citizens shop in bruno, saskatchewan, and a visit with its proprietors, serena and tyler. tyler we had met once in passing at an art opening of his in oakville and serena has been my internet pen pal since i contacted her after jen suggested i read her blog, going rural. after reading her blog and finding out about the art/craft shop she ended up opening in bruno, i made sure to get some sweetie pie stuff out to rural saskatchewan to stock their shelves.
we spent most of the remaining daylight driving and rolled into bruno just at the very end of dusk (which is pretty late at this time of year in places this far north). we watched storms pass by, miles and miles to the south of us, and generally marveled at all that big sky this part of the world has going for it.
when we got to bruno, we were greeted by two of the nicest folks a couple of wayfaring hobos could hope to meet. there was much chatting and getting acquainted to do, so we laid into the last of our duty free bourbon and talked about everything under the sun. tomorrow, we are being treated to some wheatland tourism and visits with friends. i can hardly wait.
Sunday, June 15, 2008
angie and steve treat us well. also, winnipeg has lots of good places to eat. today, we ate new potatoes and french toast made with angie's special culinary touch and went to soup pierre. go there. yum. i can't promise angie will cook for you when you go to winnipeg. which is too bad; you're missing out.
Saturday, June 14, 2008
steve and angie abound with prairie hospitality. today we took it easy, ate bagels, stayed in and set up office in the dining room. steve and i worked on our computers while aitor unflattered steve with a portrait and worked on his illustrations for the next issue of the pilot pocket book. this went on for hours as little rain showers passed by.
by evening, we were getting ready for the very spooky friday the 13th improv show i came here to do (with steve, lee white and robyn slade). we set up the chairs, made a loose game plan and then crossed the street to eat together at mondragon - the world's best collectivist vegan restaurant (to my knowledge). i had a meal that felt like the perfect antidote to american road food - a "b"lt and hearty beet borscht. if you go through winnipeg, i think you should eat there. even aitor liked it (although you wouldn't know it from the picture below) and he is a big fan of flesh eating.
bellies full, we went back across the street to the exchange community church to get ready for our show. i wish the pictures were more exciting, but we were "warming up" in a church basement that kind of looks like a grim train station or hospital in pictures. we also "warmed up" by playing with all the kids toys down there. except aitor; he had no need to warm up since he wasn't performing so he made purple turds out of play-dough. we will be listing those on etsy as soon as he can settle on a price (and proper shipping).
the show was a lot of fun. my partners on stage are some of my favorite people/improvisers and i hardly ever get to see/work with them. we went nuts playing around, being goofs and trying to spook the audience. mostly the plot lines just descended into gore, treachery and grossness (of the best possible kinds) but i did get to tell my real-life ghost story and think i might have actually spooked a few audience members with that. it was a great joy to be able to indulge in unbridled silliness on stage again. it has been a while; that's not really the prevailing trend in toronto comedy these days. oh yes, and winnipeg crowds are pretty great.
we spent the later hours socializing at the homestead as many of my winnipeg favorites stopped by. i was especially happy to get a chance to catch up with jefferson and doctor dave. jeff has been cavorting in korea for what seem like forever and doctor dave is a chemist (among other things) who works with the rcmp processing illegal drug operations across canada - so they were both full of stories. i always like to grill dave about what new horrors are arising in canadian drugs. this time he reports that most of the cocaine in western canada right now has been cut with an antibiotic used to deworm pigs. apparently this is less of a threat and more of an curiosity but i am always fascinated by his canadian drug updates, danger or no. people are weird and they make weird things into drugs.
this post had nothing to do with crafts, buttons or the sweetie pie press. i guess winnipeg is a mild vacation from that. although, i might try to visit some stores over the weekend if possible. then it's off to bruno, saskatchewan. but that's a whole other story...
Friday, June 13, 2008
how can one not be in love with the prairies? i am a west coast girl so the grandeur of mountains and such are generally lost on me. but as the landscape turns from rolling green to flat flat flat and the sky widens, so do my eyes.
in north dakota (somewhere a little north of fargo), we were finally passed over by one of these quick-moving, trouble-making thunderstorms that have been harassing the countryside.
our brush with it was swift and light and thankfully included none of the "golf ball sized" hail or funnel clouds that the radio was warning of. in places like this where the skies are so big, you can also watch a storm roll over you - "the belly of the whale" as aitor called it. the wonderment in this fact may be lost on those native to flat places, but storms certainly never operated like this is vancouver. storms also never leave vancouver; they just ooze all over the city until they tire of their humdrum and dry up in a slow suicide. but not here. storms show you their face and stick their fingers down on you as they please. and then they are gone. it's a respectable (if violent) way of operating and i can dig it.
by the very end of dusk, we had arrived at steve and angie's new place in winnipeg (another town very close to my heart) where we were greeted with the warmth i am coming to understand all our friends share. but more about winnipeg later. i am performing here tonight (friday the 13th). you should come.
Thursday, June 12, 2008
wherein our disheveled heroine tussles her hair, drives all day, dodges heavenly agression and searches for cheese curds (with a visit to a roadside antique mall thrown in for good measure).
all in all, a glum gray day of listening to storm warnings and driving past bloated rivers that would soon thereafter be topped up with rain and spill over the highway we had left behind us. we must have done the exact right amount of lollygagging, as we only heard horror stories of weather gone wild on npr but experienced nothing more than some sprinklings of rain ourselves. we rolled into butch and katherine's place right ahead of a big thunder storm and had the extreme pleasure of sipping post-road margaritas and talking into the night while the lightning exploded and passed by the cities.
butch is on the verge of the second annual twin cities improv festival (which he runs). you should go check it out, if you are in the area.
Wednesday, June 11, 2008
for our last day in chicago we rounded off our final store visit, clothes optional on clark. this place is a real trap since jamie stocks the shop with an impressive selection of vintage clothes and a sizable men's section. we always end up finding something while jamie is picking through the buttons.
jamie got a bunch of artist sets this time around including the new pin pals set, mark laliberte's contamination series, the security envelopes, tara bursey's cheap dates and jesjit's newest $$ sets.
we spent the rest of the afternoon and evening in the riveting thralls of doing some last-minute running around, repacking and organizing the chaos in the car. oh, and this happened:
as a reward for our efforts, we went out to the skylark, a walking-distance-from-us bar that reba recommended (for her part, she was feeling too scratchy in the throat to accompany us). it was great (and another photo booth location). we were treated to good conversation and laughs with john, dano and nick who work there. all of them were sufficiently sweet to make us want to come back on subsequent visits to chicagoland (sounds like a theme park). i walked home hiccuping drunk wondering how i would feel in the morning when we had to drive away.