Guest Post: Andrea Peneycad’s Magico Magico

January 17, 2011

I tried to trick Peneycad into starting a blog by being all tricky, like “hey that thing that happened to you is funny, you should type it” and she did and then I was all tricky again, like “oh hey great story, why not start a blog and put that story on it” and she was like “no”. So basically she’s the one who tricked me, because look, I’m posting it here.

I was on the subway on Saturday night. It was around 10:30 – kind of a lull time, just before the going-out crowd, um, goes out. I was coming back from a baroque- concert-slash-gay-marriage-fashion-show that I saw with my aunt and my 91-year-old grandmother. But that is entirely another story.

At maybe St. George station, this guy about my age got on the subway. He was incredibly nonremarkable in every aspect except for that he had kind of searching eyes, which are entirely unusual (and entirely undesirable) eyes to see on the subway. The rest of us were playing our required roles of Weary Torontonians On The Subway Who Don’t Notice Anyone Around Them.

I half watched him choose a seat not too far away from me, next to some other guy I dutifully hadn’t noticed either. He then sat down with an exaggerated ‘aaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh,’ a sound which I can compare only to letting the air out of a bicycle tire. This guy was happy to be taking a load off and wanted us to know about it.

In that exact moment, the man who had been sitting on my same bank of 3 seats got off the subway, and our deflated bicycle tire gave us all a look like ‘golly, isn’t that just Murphy’s law that a better seat opens up right when I sit down, well, gee, I’ll just snag it, it seems like the only thing to do, wouldn’t you agree?’ We wouldn’t agree (or disagree), we were Not Playing. He got up and crossed to sit down next to me, leaving a seat between us.

I focussed on my subway activity of choice, which is to send text messages to my friends, which eventually send themselves when I get to ground level, but once again, ‘aaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh.’ This sealed the deal for me. I had to keep my eyes to myself; this guy was looking for some sort of conversation opener, and it wasn’t going to take much.

The next time I looked up, he was sort of clumsily shuffling through a deck of cards. Not in a ‘wow, I’d really better get these cards mixed up; look, all the jacks are together’ kind of way, but more of a ‘if I do this for long enough, someone will ask me if I do magic’ vibe. We’d just passed Christie station, which meant I was getting off in 4 stops.

It sort of flashed through my mind that I could make this guy’s night by asking him if he did magic. He was basically wearing a sign that said ‘Ask Me If I Do Magic (Hint: The Answer Is YES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!)’ but then I thought better of it, and right in the middle of deciding not to, I heard myself say resignedly ‘so. do you play poker, or do you do magic.’

Him: ‘Why, I do magic!’
(I swear, he threw in the ‘why’ at the beginning of the sentence.)

Me: ‘Ok. I’m getting off at Dundas West.’

Him: ‘I’m getting off at Lansdowne! What you see here is a completely normal deck of cards.’

He lifted his deck of cards up, which he was awkwardly holding, as if to prove that there WAS something fishy up with these cards. He kind of clumsily half- fanned through them, so I could vaguely see some writing on at least one corner of the cards. ‘What I plan to do, right before your very eyes, is erase these cards. So, first thing we nee–
FFOOOOOOOMMM

He threw an ENORMOUS fireball into the air, then did some sort of awkward sleight-of- hand and, yup, he’d turned all the cards white. But who cares. I was still back at ‘WHOA. You just threw fire on the subway. Did you really just throw fire on the subway?’ Also, I was thinking how READY this guy actually was for me (and by ‘me’ I mean ‘anyone in the entire world’) to ask him about doing magic.

The other riders on the subway, god love ‘em, they were all playing their ‘I’m in Toronto, nothing’s gonna surprise me’ roles all the way to Oscar nominations. Not a blink or a raised eyebrow anywhere. Inspiring stuff.

With one stop till he needed to get off, I kind of expected that we were just gonna have the ‘thanks, that was neat’ ‘oh really? You really think so? Thanks a lot I have been working on it I am really into magic it’s not that easy you know thanks a lot’ conversation that happens after someone almost singes off your eyebrows, but he stuffed his hand into his pocket and pulled out 3 pieces of trick rope. Kleenex, receipts and instructions for other tricks came tumbling out too, but this guy didn’t care. He was on a mission.

‘I have in my hand 3 ropes. I’m the kind of guy who carries rope in his pocket, crazy eh?’

‘You certainly are prepared,’ I managed.

‘As you can see they’re all of differing lengths. I will now transform them to be the same length.’

He started doing some clumsy movements in his palm. ‘Next stop, Lansdowne Station’ came the recorded voice. He sped it up, and I kind of glanced away so he could hurry up with whatever secret moves he needed to do.

The subway rolled into the station, and he kind of threw the rope out of his hands ‘ and now you see they’re all the same length um bye!’ he grabbed his bag, stood up, and started scooping the receipts, tissue and the instruction card back into his pockets, sliding out the doors just as they were closing.

I laughed and laughed to myself. I tried to catch the eyes of the other passengers, but they weren’t having any of it.

Understandable, really.

– Andrea Peneycad doesn’t have her own blog.
(yet)

PS, Here is an unrelated link.


Bravo, Peneycad

October 1, 2010

Hi everybunny! It’s me, Stamp. Remember meee? I’m baaack after a whirlwind of fun at Tiff followed by a disgusting cold that I no doubt caught off a dodgeball.

Thanks youse times ones millions to my homie, the amazing guest blogger
Andrea Peneycad for holding down the fort while I was off gallivanting-and-blowing-my-nose.

Fig. 1: Artistic rendering of Andrea Peneycad waving byebyebye for now to readers of this blog.

She did a kickass job of writing thoughtful and funny introductions to all the well-curated links she found and posted here during the month of September. I’m doing my best to convince her to start her own blog (this involves me doing a lot of loud whining of words like PLEEEEEEASE, and her saying MAYBE ONE DAY) so stay tuned for that, because you know I’ll feature it here when she does. Thanks, Andrea!


Twiddling their thumbs

September 18, 2010

Check out this great video by Up & Over It. They’re dancers Suzanne Cleary and Peter Harding, and they’re making Irish Dancing awesome. So fun, such great music, so cute, etc. They’re so amazing they don’t even need their feet to dance:

You can see more of their videos on their youtube channel here, or look at very cute pictures of them on their website here.

Thanks Marissa for the tip!


Sweet bike o’ mine.

September 17, 2010

And now, from the department of “Things That Seem Totally Awesome In Theory But in Practice Would Be Completely Awful,” we bring you this amazing design of a musical bike path from the Seoul Cycle Design Competition.

Okay, the idea seems INCREDIBLE and combines lots of things I superlike. Biking along the path, you ride over these sections that activate hammers that hit xylophone-type bars, and as you ride, you create a melody.  So fun, right? Whee! A little bike ride, a little tune, a little more love for Seoul and humankind in general.

More amazing graphics that have a slightly textbook, retro feel and are totally worth a look, here.

This is an awesome idea and reminds me a lot of this video that has been making the rounds, where people chose climbing stairs over riding an escalator after the stairs were transformed into a music making machine:

Okay, so let’s fast-forward to a time and place where this bike path construction has actually taken place. The bike path exists, it’s right on your way to work, you use the path for your round trips, five days a week.

11 months a year.

For the rest of your working life.

As a test to see if this would be a good idea, please repeatedly listen to this xylophone cover of the Super Mario Brothers song:

Could you listen to this backwards and forwards, every day for the rest of your life? eep.

I actually DID find an example of a song that could maybe work though: this badass xylophone cover of Sweet Child Of Mine, by Guns and Roses. amirite?


They want it.

September 9, 2010

This video is why Toronto is awesome and I love it. There’s an awful lot of hating on Toronto that happens on the Internet (and I imagine also probably off it, or what the kids are calling ‘In Real Life,’) so, don’t worry, you don’t have to go to the trouble of disagreeing with me in the comments about the fact that Toronto Is Super Awesome. I feel like the war is won here: you can’t argue with a city that makes these kinds of ads. Nor should you. (Argue, that is. Nor should you argue with a city that makes these kinds of ads. We’re clear?)

Protip: The City of Toronto official version of this same video left out the ‘pretty blonde lady’ comment. Which is too bad, I think, but also so conscientious that it’s adorable. Oh Toronto, I could just pinch your cheeks.

[thedailywh.at]


When I was your age, carrots were bigger, and better behaved.

September 9, 2010

So, um, yeah. I don’t really know what to say about this. This is really a thing.

I watched the video and I had to check the link to make sure it wasn’t a SNL fake ad, but, nope.

I mean, I can get really, truly, excessively, excited about people eating vegetables. Some of my best friends eat vegetables. I was even into it back in university. But is this the best way to promote veggies? Shopping-cart-cliff-jumping through machine gun fire? Explosions?

Extreme Pterodactyl?

Does this really make you want a carrot?

Oh, sorry, marketing execs and focus groups, you were saying— it does? Okay, carrots, you win. I’m just gonna go over into this corner and shrivel up and rock for awhile. Pay me no mind.

[devour].


Thank you, I’ll be here all week.

September 5, 2010

Well thanks, Stamp. That packet of lies that served as an introduction is a lot to live up to, but I promise to do my best to keep the exciting content to a maximum, and the excessive punctuation to a minimum (though I hope you’ll all admit that there are some moments that call for seventeen exclamation marks, AMIRITE???? GUYS???).

While Nicole is away, I’ll be holding down the role of Gleaner of Internet Genius, bringing you the best from the elaborate series of tubes we call home. I’m slightly nervous, though, because–at the risk of screwing it all up right from the start–I’m not much of a Cat Person. I just hope that you, members of this community of aFfectionate aFeline aFficionados can be patient and wait for Nicole’s return, because there’s really not going to be any cat content for the next two weeks.

just jokin cat

Well, okay, but just that one image.

Let’s start things off right with a bit of culture, shall we?

Probably you have seen this video of a three year-old reciting poetry. (No? I really think you ought to. Go ahead. Don’t worry, we’ll wait.) The poem was written by Billy Collins, 44th Poet Laureate of the USA. He’s a great poet, a fantastic speaker, and he and his youtube videos can help you get rid of that evening you weren’t using anyways.

Someone has helpfully animated many of his poems for your delight and amazement. The animations are beautiful, but I can admit that I’m not totally sure how I feel about watching images while listening to poetry. It sometimes feels like too much information and my brain shuts down. But, gorgeous!

To start you off, here’s one called Forgetfulness.

There are a bajillion more out there. Please enjoy.

Finally, this (unanimated) poem here, called The Lanyard, made it rain a bit on my face, so use caution.


Introducing Peneycad

September 3, 2010

For the next 2 weeks, I’m gonna be putting in crazy hours at the Toronto International Film Festival, and I won’t have much time to read the whole entire internet and post tidbits of it on here. So I’m trying out something new: a guest blogger! Internet, meet my good pal Andrea Peneycad:

She’s an internet-reading superhero who constantly lets me know about cool things for this blog (and sometimes things that are not cool, at all).

She lives in Montreal, where her typical day involves studying human anatomy, building a massage table out of tree bark, sewing a frilly June Cleaver apron, canning homemade jam, running up Mont Royal, reading one meellion websites, learning a new folk song on guitar, then donning a miniskirt to kill it on the dance floor. It’s a bit ridiculous how well-rounded she is, and I’m pretty stoked to have her posting on here this week. I’ll be back before the end of the month… in the meantime, enjoy!


Guest post: a-Peel-ing, by Greg Press

June 19, 2009

I want to share something with you.

Here’s one way to make your life better: Take advantage of all that a vegetable peeler has to offer when making a salad. I’m a fan of the Oxo brand – $10 or so.

peeleer

You like raw golden beets, but not so much just taking a bite out of one? Peel off the skin in a jiffy (I’ll peel maybe half to conserve the rest of the beet for later) and then scatter some beet flakes wherever you like. Maybe in a bowl with heirloom tomato chunks, baby arugula, and a crumbled goat cheese (grape halves if you’re feeling unhinged). The yellow shines, but all beets have brilliant colors. You could shave up a bunch of different colored beets, some herbs, some oil, little cheese and you’d have something to look at.

Another good crunch your peeler can add to a salad is fennel (the bulb). Not that easy to manipulate with a knife – too thick a bite can be overwhelming, too thin useless, and too diced plain weird, but a nice shaving via your peeler does the trick (takes a little practice, not as easy as the supreme kitchen device, the mandolin). Dig it with parmesan, olive oil, lemon, and some herbs. Or mix it up in a salad with green olives, a citrus, and a candied nut.

Tonight's dinner: leftovers from last night, including a salad of heirloom tomato, peaches, veggie-peeled golden beet and veggie-peeled fennel.

Tonight's dinner: leftovers from last night, including a salad of heirloom tomato, peaches, veggie-peeled golden beet and veggie-peeled fennel.

How about cucumber strips? This is not so much shaving as long deep slices. Nice with big healthy romaine leaves, maybe some avocado. Pour over some heavily shaken olive oil, little bit of balsamic, little bit of dijon, and a lot of lemon. Don’t forget the fresh ground pepper.

You want jicama? Easy. Shred the sheet out of it with a veggie peeler. Nice for the summer with watermelon, pistachios posing as seeds, and feta.

You can peel shavings of fruits like firm pears. You can peel shavings of vegetables like funky raw squash for a summer squash salad. You can peel shavings of hard cheeses. Grating ginger can be a pain in the ass, but peel its bark (or whatever the outside is called), whittle off some strips, and then take a good knife to it and your fresh diced ginger is ready to go.

Build yourself a little holster. Equip it with your vegetable peeler. And the next time you make a salad, bust that shiznit out.

– Greg Press is a doctor who lives in Houston.

Nice once, Greg. Thanks.

The rest of y’all, I’m still happy to get guest posts.
Send ’em to stamperoo at gmail dot com, yeah?


Guest post: Abney Park Cemetery, by Juliet

June 18, 2009

My friend Juliet spent some time in England earlier this month and came home with a gorgeous passel of photos. I thought these pics of Abney Park in Stoke Newington were particularly beautiful- love the cool greens and mossy stones- so she let me re-post them here, along with her captions. The small-size photos don’t do justice to the gorgeous setting- make sure to click them to see the large versions.

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This place is 100% amazing. Abney Park was in its heyday (1840s) a non-denominational burial ground, the first cemetery in Europe to be combined with an arboretum. For the last twenty years, it hasn’t been used for burial. Instead, it’s now treated as an open space, and the natural landscape is taking over the gravestones in a really dramatic way. You can wander far off the main trails through row after row of gravestones, many lopsided or somewhat uprooted.

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You can read more about Abney Park Cemetery here and here.

– Juliet is an editor who lives in Brooklyn.

Gorgeous pics, hey? Thanks, Juliet.
The rest of y’all, I’m still happy to get guest posts.
Send ’em to stamperoo at gmail dot com, yeah?