36 hour Dodgeball Game

January 19, 2011

Dodgeball has become something of an obsession for me.

Last weekend, along with 19 friends, I set a new Guinness World Record for Longest Dodgeball Game Ever. We played 36h and 45 minutes without sleep, and raised about $6200 for the Stephen Lewis Foundation.

dodgeball-36-hr-guinness-world-record

The players, mostly photographed by Ryan Tacay.

Interesting things I observed about playing dodgeball for 36 continuous hours (10pm Friday January 7 to 11am Sunday January 9):

1.
Our energy really came and went in spurts. For me this was tied quite noticeably to how much sunlight was coming in the windows and whether or not any of my friends happened to be watching the game at any given moment. Late lonely nights were the worst; bright sunny mornings were the best.

2.
I only slept two 7-hour shifts the next day, and then I felt pretty much back to normal, about as sore as I’d be after a standard one-day tournament. This was unbelievable since at 4am Sunday morning I seriously felt like the walking dead. I was so exhausted and sore I could barely stand up. By 9am Sunday morning, though, on the home stretch, I was vibrating with energy and leaping all over the court like a total maniac. Go figure.

3.
Changing socks feels really really good when you play sports for hours and hours on end. We pretty much coated our feet in baby powder every couple of hours. There were little foot-silhouettes in sprinkled patches of baby powder all along the sidelines of the court.

4.
Food becomes really really unappealing when you play sports for hours and hours on end. I was hungry but totally turned off by the idea of eating, so I barely ate anything: mostly just cereal with almond milk, a couple of granola bars, and some fruit smoothies.

5.
I fully planned to do an hour-by-hour liveblog of the event, but my laptop was used to livestream the game on the internet so I had nothing to type on, and plus I discovered that I totally did not care at all. Even if I’d had the technological means, I discovered that once we started, documenting the experience became the least interesting part of the experience for me.

I am very grateful that there were skilled photographers in attendance who took awesome shots. All the action shots in this post are by the extremely talented Michelle Yee, who was present on all three days and probably stayed around for a total of at least 12 hours, something of a marathon in and of itself.

6.
I played for so long the tips of the fingers on my throwing hand BLISTERED; I didn’t even know that was possible. Somehow, though, I managed not to injure myself at all. The next time I played dodgeball a week later, I sprained a finger fairly badly playing a very gentle game of warmup catch.

7.
My personal goal for the game was to learn how to jump. I practiced this skill for about half an hour during the first overnight by picking a spot on the court, uncomfortably close to the centre line, and setting a rule that I could not move laterally to avoid attacks- my only options were to duck, jump, or catch. It took a couple games of getting pegged in the feet, and then I figured it out.

8.
We got quite a bit of media coverage, including CNN, omg.
The CNN dodgeball feature is online here.

10.
My teammates are total BADASSES. They played through 36 hours of exhaustion and injuries, and they did it laughing.

Huge respect to Helder Brum, who came up with this crazy idea in the first place, and the players (seen here from L-R): Lesley Seig, Will Serediak, Beth White, Matt Neundorf, team captain Bryan Cesar, Michael Lasiuk, Ryan Tacay, Helder Brum, Jordan MacLeod, Andrew Trumbach, Christ Gammage, Matthew Silveira, Tracey Oliveira, Steve Villeseche, Malena Andrade, Jen Ritchie, Scott Hepburn, Sabina Monaco, Christine Mack (and the last person in the pic is me, obvs).


Scotch, mmm.

December 11, 2010

Macallan Scotch invited me to a tasting last week, and before they’d even finished the question I was like YES YES OK YES PLEASE.

The event was held in a tastefully-lit room filled with an assortment of delectable cheese and my friend Steve.

The above photo depicts Steve, not cheese.
Although I see how that could be confusing.

All varieties of this scotch are aged for years, which is funny when you think of the time in terms of pop culture.

A twelve-year old scotch was first distilled while There’s Something About Mary was out in theatres and Celine Dion’s My Heart Will Go On was causing headaches everywhere.

An eight-year old scotch remembers the first Spider-Man movie.

An eighteen year old scotch was just a wee babby when Kris Kross was makin’ us all Jump-Jump and Whitney Houston promised to Always Love Me (she totally has not followed through on that, though. Just saying).

Some things I learned:

1.
Macallan ages its scotch in casks that originally held Spanish sherry. Using second-hand barrels isn’t a budget-cutting tactic; the sherry residue actually adds complexity to the scotch, and in fact Macallan subsidizes the production of Spanish sherry well beyond its real-world market demand, simply because the byproduct of sherry production is ideal scotch-casks.

2.
The best way to sniff scotch is to inhale through your nose, but with your mouth slightly open. While having a slack jaw might make you look a little simple-minded, it also allows you to taste the aromatics instead of just blowtorching your sinuses with volatile aclohol.

3.
Old scotch tastes reeeallly good with dark chocolate.

4.
I took horrible photos of everything. Exhibit A:

According to my photographic record, the event was held on top of a jackhammer during a laser show and also all the people were melting.
All the good-looking photos used in this post were grabbed from the professional photos on the Macallan Canada Facebook page.
Not really something I learned, but bears mentioning.

5.
After tasting five kinds of scotch, I care waaay less if it’s cold outside.

6.
Finally, I dropped by the Tuesday Night Special comedy show at the Drake after the tasting, where I learned that scotch tastings can make comedy shows extra-hilarious as well.

Thanks to Matchstick and the Macallan Canada for a fun night.

Here’s a 5-click survey which doesn’t ask for any personal info. For each completed survey, $2 will be donated to the Red Cross.


Cougar Boots

November 29, 2010

Cougar sent me two pairs of winter boots to talk about here on my bloog. They must have caught wind of the fact that I like cats, or younger men, or warm feet, any one of those, really. Can I tell you about how hard my life is? Because it was really difficult to photograph my new boots, waah!

The day I planned to photograph the first pair, I was playing online poker really really busy. By the time I got around to it, the sky was juuust starting to darken, so I got dressed as quickly as I could and ran outside to discover that, oh yeah, daylight savings time, and oh yeah, it takes me forever to get ready. So oh yeah, it was pretty much pitch-black and freezing outside.

No natural light. But no worries; I figured using the flash would give the photos a gritty, edgy look, like wildlife photography. You know, like I’m just a lil’ cougar drinking at a watering hole and what’s this trip-wire thingie… and KUH-FLASH, now I’m a centrefold in National Geographic.

What used to be a field of tomatoes tied to hockey sticks is now a luxuriant swamp of leaves, aka my backyard. Jealous? Well, maybe you need an elderly Italian landlord then.

I like these boots a lot. It was damn cold out when I was taking these pics, and the rest of me was frozen solid, but my feet were toasty. The boots are comfy and rugged, and the laces slide smoothly in little rings so they’re very easy to tighten. The style is called Ringo. I didn’t try them on drums or toy trains, but they’re good for feet.

Who me? Oh nothing, just boot modelling by a lamp post.

They’re also rated to -30′ weather, which is handy because that’s pretty much the temperature inside my apartment all winter. Jealous? Well, maybe you need an elderly Italian landlord then.

(Just kidding, my landlord is suuuper nice, and it’s 100% not his fault my apartment is cold. It’s David Suzuki’s fault because I feel guilty turning up the heat.)

(Just kidding, I love the ‘Zukes too, like a lot. Seriously. We’re buds.
By “buds” I might mean “One time I followed him down the street in Vancouver for two blocks but then I got shy and hid behind a bus shelter instead of saying hi to him”.)

Suuuper casual, guys.

To photograph the second pair of boots, I planned much more carefully, by which I mean I managed to get dressed before the sun went down, so my neighbours could photograph me in natural light.

But then my neighbours just… weren’t there. They’re photographers, and I pretty much expect them to be hanging around on their porch all day, ready and waiting to photograph me on one second’s notice. But for some reason, they weren’t sitting conveniently in the cold waiting to do totally random, unplanned favours for me, the nerve.

Biting back my rage, I set up my camera’s timer function and balanced it cleverly on a chair. Because, you guys, I totally do not need any help in order to take awesome photos of my footwear.

I rest my case. Wait, what does that saying mean, again?

Luckily, just then, my mailman wandered by. Well, luckily for me, because it meant I now had a photographer.

Much better!

Maybe not quiiite as lucky for my mailman, because it meant he now had
a lunatic me, forcing inviting him to pose for ridiculous cool matching pics.

Canada Post, you guys. Now THIS is service.

Seriously, my mailman is awesome. Dude takes good photos, too.

Just crouching by a tree like I do. You know how it is.

Also dude is an incredibly good sport.

Totally standard working day.

Thanks, Mailman David, for the mad photography and modelling skillz. He also delivered some socks I bought on eBay, and a flyer about pizza.
So. Win-win-win, you guys.

Oh yeah, and the boots.

Yes, non?

This style is called the Tibet. They’re waterproof, flock-lined, warm, and rated to -24′. I like the little work-socks cuff detail, which can be neatly folded down, or scrunched up if you’re badass. I haate all weather that isn’t sunny, but this year I’m almost looking forward to the rain and snow because these boots are warm and cute.

In summation, I’m a fan of Cougar Boots.

Excited, scared, or just a natural athlete? You decide.

PS:
Here’s a very short, 1-minute survey- just 3 questions!
And for each person who takes it, the promotions company will donate $2 to the Red Cross. You can be a hero!


Hallowe’en Raisins and Pennies

October 27, 2010

Thanks to Peneycad for that link, which triggered this memory:

When I was a kid, this one house on my street gave out the best Hallowe’en candy I’d ever had. They were these little fruity things with a really intense flavour, and to this day, I’ve never seen them anywhere except at that house.

This one year- I think I was about nine- I vividly remember walking up their driveway, really excited to get more of those candies. I arrived at their door at the same time as a couple of younger kids and eagerly awaited the fruity handful I knew was in store. I rang the bell, mouth already watering in anticipation.

The mom of the house came to the door and complimented all our costumes. I thanked her distractedly, craning my neck to see past her into the hallway, where I spied my grail- a big basket of The Best Candy Evarr. I couldn’t wait.

The mom picked up the basket of candy, but, oddly, she also grabbed a big tin can. She held them both in front of her, and said, “OK kids, you have a choice.” At this point she held the can in such a way as to reveal its contents, roughly nine million dollars in pennies. “You can have either a handful of candy, or a handful of pennies for your Unicef box.”

Ha! Little did she know, I’d already decided to donate the entire contents of my own piggy bank at home, and top it off with coins filched from my parents’ change jar. I was determined to Robin Hood myself to school the next day with a stuffed-solid Unicef box, impressing all my friends with its bulging cardboard heft. Her can of pennies was irrelevant to me, little philanthropist that I was, so before she’d even finished the question, I had blurted I CHOOSE THE CANDY PLEASE and reached my grubby little paws for the basket.

The mom was so taken aback that, I swear, her head actually retracted into her neck and vanished, like when you poke a sea anemone.

In a dim part of my brain I realized I’d committed a faux pas, but in a much more sugar-starved and hyperactive quadrant of my tiny skull, all I could focus on was the fact that my hands were Almost Touching Candy, which meant that nothing else in the cosmos mattered at all.

And I didn’t take just one or two candies, no. Oh no, I pretty much dove headfirst into the candy bowl and emerged with a heaping double fistful of sweet fruity goodness, pretty much salivating from my entire head. The other kids’ parents shook their heads at the life-failure I was sure to become, and my own mom looked on from the garden path, no doubt wondering how she’d managed to raise a glutton who’d basically eat a Unicef box, seasoned with any last vestige of manners, in her relentless pursuit of sugar.

Then there was a long, awkward pause. During which time I may actually have unwrapped and eaten one of the magic candies. Oops.

Eventually, the neighbour mom’s head reappeared from her inverted neck, making a small, sucking sound of disapproval. She blinked to clear her thoughts, then turned to the other kids to ask, “Well, which would YOU prefer, the candy or the pennies?” It was barely a question; her tone made it very clear which option they were meant to pick, and, predictably, one by one, the mealy little twerps all chose the pennies and dutifully took their tiny fistfuls of coppery Not-Candy. Obviously none of them knew what they were missing.

You might think the moral of this story is that the candy didn’t taste as sweet because it was tinged with humiliation. You’d be wrong about that. I’m here to tell you that humiliation makes junk food taste all the sweeter, which is why I pretty much have to eat six Flakies for every line I flub in an audition. Lesson not learned, you guys.

To this day I don’t like running into those neighbours. When I pass their house I usually open my wallet and start saying things like OH BOY IT IS PAYDAY, TIME TO DONATE ALL THIS MONEY TO POOR PEOPLE. MAYBE THEY WOULD ALSO LIKE MY CREDIT CARDS. ALSO MAYBE I WILL OFFER THEM SOME CANDY IN A NON-PASSIVE-AGGRESSIVE WAY AND NOT THINK THEY ARE GREEDY JERKS WHEN THEY EAT IT OKAY!


VROOOOOM

July 23, 2010

Fun fact: many Torontonians don’t get their drivers’ licenses until adulthood. It’s a pretty transit-friendly city, and as a Toronto teen, you just don’t *need* to drive, the way one might in a more suburban or rural area. I grew up feeling very comfortable on public transit, and living very close to the subway, and very good at mooching rides, so I just never bothered to get my license.

Eventually it occurred to me that not being able to drive kind of sucks, so I started taking lessons. It turns out that learning as an adult is tricky. Where teens are blithe and reckless, adults are sweaty and neurotic, and trying to teach me to parallel park was a little like trying to teach a squirrel how to move a refrigerator, or trying to teach a hypochondriac how to identify poison berries in the woods by their bitter aftertaste, or trying to teach a blogger how to come up with a metaphor that makes even a tiny bit of sense.

Never mind all that. I finally found Ali, a calm teacher whose melodious and lightly-accented voice patiently eased words of driving wisdom into my thick skull, the result being that I passed my roadtest on the first try this afternoon.

I am the proud owner of a valid driver’s license, you guys! Time to throw out all my shoes because obviously I’m never walking anywhere again. NOW GET OUTTA MY WAY VRRROOOOOM NEEEEEEER BEEPBEEP!

PS, Jokes, guys! I am actually a very catful, I mean careful, driver. I like to sit reeeallly close to the wheel and lean right into the windshield and beep my horn a lot and swear. Like a tiny old lady with neurological problems.
Look for me, coming soon to a street near you at 50 km/h!
Or just listen, you’ll probably hear me yelling GAS! BRAKE! GAS! BRAKE! VROOOOOOOOOOOM


Like Father

June 1, 2010

This morning, my dad and I went into a subway station together. Just as we approached the turnstyles, a homeless lady spoke to us.

HOMELESS LADY: Spare change?

ME: No, sorry.

MY DAD: Sorry.

I don’t always give change to panhandlers, but something about this woman kind of drew me in, and I thought I probably did have a bit of change, so I kept walking and pretended to be digging for a token, when really I was fishing for some money for her. Meanwhile, my dad was edging towards the turnstyles, reaching into his pocket for his subway pass.

ME: Den, wait, I think I have change for her…

My father still had one hand searching his pocket, but as he turned to me, I saw that his subway pass was already in his other hand. This meant that he had actually been looking in his pocket for change all along.

MY DAD: Oh, yeah, me too, that’s what I’m trying to find here.

Turns out we both had some change for this lady. I haven’t lived with my dad for about a decade, and I don’t recall ever seeing his personal giving-change-to-the-homeless-procedure before, but we had both done the exact same thing: deemed this lady a good candidate for a handout, yet said no and walked out of her sightline while we checked our pockets so we wouldn’t disappoint her in case we had none. We pooled our coins and my dad handed her some loot.

I am a big fan of behavioural resemblance.


Gritty feelings

April 28, 2010

From time to time (read: all the time), I like to assert that I am not a crazy cat lady. I’m not, you guys.

I mean, sure, I have a cat.

Juno.

Well, two cats. One of whom routinely sleeps in my bed, under the duvet like an adorable little person.

Mojo.

And I mean, sure, my cats have more hairbrushes than I do.

All of my hairbrushes.

Some of my cats\’ hairbrushes.

But I don’t have, like, cat kitsch all around the apartment or anything.

My cat kitsch is just in a few normal places, like shelves and on the fridge and stuck to the sides of my speakers and every other item in the apartment.

Totally rational appreciation of cats over here. And it’s a mutual appreciation.

Obviously, there is a lot of shared understanding and admiration in this inter-species relationship. You can tell by their cat expressions.

Anyway, recently a promotion company contacted me and offered to give me some free cat stuff, including cat litter, if I agreed to talk about my feelings for that cat litter on this blog. When promotion companies have your blog on their cat lady list, well, you just have to start coming to terms with the notion that you may be a crazier cat lady than you thought.

Also, I did not even realize that I might be the kind of person who might have feelings about cat litter. Is that even a kind of person?

Let’s delve into this issue, and find out!

Maxx Scoop cat litter comes in a variety called “Small Spaces”, which, considering the fact that my entire apartment is about the same size as a grand piano, sounds like it’s right up my exceedingly narrow alley.

But none of the stores in my neighbourhood seem to be stocking that stuff yet, so I settled for “Multi-Cat” formula. Because I am a person who has multiple cats, and maybe even feelings about those cats’ cat litter. We’ll see.

Cat litter is starting to not sound like a real word any more. Cat litter. Cat litter. Clap glitter.

What do I usually look for in a cat litter, you ask? (Thanks for asking).

Well, my cats have an amazing robotic dervish of a litterbox, which was a present from some friends who like me much more than I deserve. Because it self-scoops, that means I shouldn’t have to clean it very often (right?).

Usually my extremely discerning taste in cat litter sends me right to a big-box store to pick up whatever generic brand is on sale, which I buy by the shipping flat and stack in my hallway (CLASSY).

This week, however, my amazing robotic litterbox has been filled with Maxx Scoop Multi-Cat.

Maxximum Mojo is stoked.

You guys, this is totally the cat litter of champions.

And it comes in these sturdy little buckets that you can totally use for, you know, stuff!

(I might fill my buckets with cats, is that wrong?)

So. In conclusion, do I have feelings about this cat litter? You betcha.
Good feelings. Clumping, non-disgusting feelings. Absorbent feelings. Multi-cat feelings.
Feelings… to the Maxx.


Call UrbanDictionary.

February 22, 2010

I think I just coined a new term. When you’re emailing someone back and forth, but then one of you just doesn’t get around to responding: you have E-VAPORATED.


Dear Japan: Absolutely not.

December 8, 2009

But if I did this at home I'd be late.

This Japanese poster campaign is asking commuters not to do certain “annoying” things on the subway.

Here’s what I think is annoying on the subway:

Wearing knapsacks at rush hour

Littering

When two friends sit on either side of a stranger and talk over them.

Brushing hair when there’s a person sitting beside you (flake shower, grode)

Standing in the doorway, blithely blocking passengers from exiting. WHAT IS THAT.

Smoking crack into a napkin (I actually saw a guy do that on the TTC, just once. I was really confused about what he was doing until I told a more worldly friend, Hey, I saw a guy light up and inhale off something hidden in his hand, hold the smoke for about 40 seconds, then exhale into a Starbucks napkin, and what he exhaled smelled like sulphur, and my friend said, Uh, that was crack. Huh. Cracky McGuy was about 70 years old, nicely-dressed, not a tooth in his mouth. Summerhill Station. Who knew. Also, to be honest? Not really annoying, and actually quite fascinating.)

CLIPPING FINGERNAILS. UGH UGH UGH UGH UGH.

Here’s what I do NOT find annoying: Applying makeup. Why would that be annoying? A woman applying makeup has her elbows tucked into her ribs as they should be. She’s not flaking body parts onto anyone. She’s not being loud or getting in the way. If anything, she’s being entertaining and educational because I get to watch her make a painting of her own face, and also I get some tips on how to curl my lashes or whatever.

You know, if you curl them twice- once at the base, once halfway up- you don't get that crimpy look? True story. I learned it at Osgoode Station. And that person on the side giving her the stinkeye? That person is OUT OF LINE.

Subway Makeup Wimmin is going to arrive at her destination on time and looking polished. It’s a real boon to the workforce, actually. If anything applying makeup is practically a public service. She should be rewarded, not scorned. I salute you, Subway Makeup Wimmin.

So dear Japan: In response to your subway ad about not putting on makeup in transit: I respectfully reply, NO. I will NOT not put on makeup in transit. And you can’t not make me not do it.

However, Japan, those other things you asked commuters not to do? Totally fine. Especially this nonsense.

STOP THAT. THIS IS NOT THE PLACE FOR THAT. THE BEACH IS (EVIDENTLY) THE PLACE FOR THAT. (ALSO: WHAT IS THAT.)

Via Copyranter, Via BoingBoing.


Haw Flakes: World Grocery Store, Volume One

August 8, 2009
Don't eat the silver one.

Don't eat the silver one.

Haw Flakes are Chinatown’s answer to fruit leather. These coin-shaped bites of goodness were my mom’s most effective form of child-bribery, a much-anticipated treat to keep me quiet in the back seat during long drives home from Chinatown. Meanwhile, my mom sat up front with the twisty face of a salted-plum lover, but that’s another story for another day.

I haw, you haw, she haw, he haw.

I haw, you haw, she haw, he haw.

Made of Chinese Hawthorn, these nickel-sized, pinky-beige candy discs can be found in just about every Chinese grocery store, for the suspiciously low price of $2 for four packages. Inside each package are 10 little rolls containing 15 flakes each. If you’re still doing the math, you’ll realize that this is a lot of flakes for a low low price. Too good to be true? Yep. True anyway? You betcha.

Each roll of Haw Flakes comes carefully wrapped in a bilingual, eye-poppingly magenta label. The ends of each roll are capped with cheerful little paper circles marked “Sunflower”, ironically accompanied by an image of a lotus flower (look above the word “flakes” in the photo below). The package lists only three ingredients: Haw, Sugar, and the delightfully Engrish “Edibility Dye”.

If these belonged to The Who, they would be a hoohaw.

If these belonged to The Who, they would be a hoohaw.

Haw Flakes have a distinctive scent- like lemony raisins with a hint of brandy- and a sort of crispy-crumbly-chewy texture (a contradictory triad, yes, but herein lies the mystery of this great Chinese confection). They’re not sticky like fruit leather, nor brittle like banana chips, but somewhere in-between. I like to push one flake at a time against my incisors and speed-nibble them- they have a firm, slightly gritty texture that dissolves into sweet, mild-tasting pulp, with a flavour somewhere between dried apples, fig newtons, rose petals, and tea. If you’re familiar with tamarind, they kind of taste like tamarind if it wasn’t so sour. Or they taste kind of like the sweet scent of an unlit cigarette. If you think that sounds gross, you probably haven’t smelled an unlit cigarette lately- unlit cigarette tobbacco actually smells really nice. Also, why aren’t there better words for tastes?

If you ask around, Haw Flake enthusiasts may claim that the candy has vague health benefits- “good for digestion” was one I heard a few times. I can’t speak to that, but I will say that Haw Flakes are a pretty good gateway to the world of Chinese sweets, as their flavour, though distinct, is still somehow familiar, like a combination of other flavours you know and like. Plus, the fiddly little discs are fun to eat, and you can’t beat the price. And that’s that. Haw haw.

World Grocery Store is a new post series I’m gonna do very randomly, describing the stuff I like to buy in independent grocery stores.


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