Friday, 26 February 2010

An Alternative to the Olympics: NicOlympics 2010

Friday, 26 February 2010
You know that word association game people play sometimes? Borne from psychology circles where one person says a word and then the other person is supposed to say whatever word pops into their mind upon hearing the first word? You know what I’m talking about... if you and I were playing it, it would be like this:

Me: “Orange.”
You: “...JUICE!”
Me: “Lennon...”
You: “...McCARTNEY!”
Me: “Bananas...”
Me: “Nicola...”
You: _________

Now, dear readers, there are those amongst you who know me very well, so I could take a reasonable stab at what some of you might insert in the blank I have so kindly supplied for you above, but I would bet my right gazonga that the last thing you would say would be “...ATHLETE!” I hope this perfectly illustrates the reason why you haven’t yet found yourself reading a blog post from me about the Olympics.

Don’t get me wrong, I like the pomp and circumstance of it all, and being the old soul that I am, I am diggin’ on the spirit of the tradition of the Olympic games, and being part-Canadian I am uber-proud that the eyes of the world are all on Vancouver right now... but if I’m completely honest, I’m not really fussed. I mean, I like watching the snowboarders (mostly because the boy ones are all cool little hotties) and I like watching the ice skating, sometimes. The latter for two reasons: first out of envious curiosity which quickly dissipates into bitterness along the ‘Why-Can’t-My-Ass-Be-So-Small-And- Perky-Like-Hers’ lines, and second because I think it’s funny when they fall down. YOU LAUGH, TOO... don’t try and deny it.

I did watch quite a bit of the Opening Ceremonies, though. It made me totally homesick, and I found myself very emotional (aka crying like a big fat baba) when it got to Shane Koyczan’s recitation of his FRICKIN’ AWESOME poem ‘We Are More’ (click the link to read the full transcript) ... oh, yes, we say ‘zed’ instead of ‘zee’: RIGHT ON, MY BROTHA.

So instead of giving you loads of fluff about curling or cross-country skiing or hockey (heaven forbid!) I thought I’d give you a run down of the things in my life that I believe are podium-worthy, should the governing bodies of the IOC decide to expand their definition of ‘sport’ to include the everyman.

Without further ado, I give you the NicOlympics – What I’d Win a Medal For:

Gold medal: Facebook. I’m always on it. I know, totally dorky, right? But it’s my lifeline, I tells ya. Being all the way over here, when most of my homies are across the water? It’s hard. So being friends with them on Facebook where I can see pictures of them, their kids, their drunken escapades, pets, holidays, etc. etc. means the world to me. It has brought back people in my life that I regretted having long ago lost touch with, and it gives me a medium with which to share news, photos and videos, etc. with people who miss me. And by ‘people’ I mostly mean my Mum. And by ‘miss’ I mean ‘relieved I’m not local and constantly borrowing money.’

Silver medal: Cooking. Totally not joking. And if this event got extra points for making mammoth gargantuan everything-out-of-the-cupboards messes in the kitchen at the same time, I’d blow the competition out of the water. My love of cooking started around about a decade ago, when I realised that in addition to the lure and appeal of my boobs in a Wonderbra, the way to Jason’s heart was (as the saying goes) was directly through his stomach. So I started making all manner of yummy things to entice my way into his affections. It totally worked. He is fond of telling the story of how he started to realise I was ‘The One’ not long after we started dating and I made a lovely Not Chicken Pot Pie while he was out at a football match, and that I cut the letters ‘NUFC 5-0!’** out of pastry to put on the top. His favourites that I make now include a delicious Thai green curry, roasted Mediterranean vegetables with Cypriot haloumi cheese, scrambled eggs with double cream and green chillies... I could be here all day. Maybe one day I will post some recipes – is that really dorky, though?

Bronze medal: Making A Bottle of Formula With Only One Hand While Holding Baby In Other While Talking On Phone At Same Time. Doesn’t sound like a big deal to a lot of you, maybe. But this is a special, special talent. One handed, too. Try it. I bet you make a mess! Not me, naw.

Honourable mention: Last Minute House Tidying. Being married to an obsessive tidyer-upper has its perks: I hardly ever do the dishes or make the bed, because Jason likes to do them just so. He is the loveliest type of husband and we have a great system – I make mess, and he cleans it up. It has worked for almost a decade. When he is at home on his own through the day, he cleans up as he goes along. Me? I turn the entire house upside-down while I’m going about the business of looking after our kids, and then about 20 minutes before he gets in from work I restore the natural order of everything, whipping around the place in a tubby alternative Mary Poppins Spoonful of Sugar style. It is a sight to behold.

Last place: Musical Tolerance. If this was a real event, I wouldn’t even qualify. I would be last place, nobody would want me on their team. Despite having a really wide ranging musical collection, I’m so closed-minded when it comes to listening to new or different stuff it’s really rather embarrassing. Take Jason, for example: lifelong card-carrying metalhead, and proud of it. But always, ALWAYS lets me listen to what I want to listen to in the house, or the car. Has even admitted (but don’t tell any of his friends) that he was wrong about The Smiths and Morrissey and The Cure and The Pixies, and likes quite a lot of the music I suggest he listens to. Me? I turn into a scowling, foul-mouthed, bad-tempered harpy if he even so much as lingers on a music video that I don’t like for more than a few seconds. I make him listen to all his music on headphones. Isn’t that rotten of me? It’s a total failing, I know. I should be a better wife, yes, yes, I hear you. But I just can’t. Jason’s ALWAYS going on at me about it. He says, “But I always let you listen to your music in the car. Why can’t you pay me the same respect?” The answer is simple, my reply never alters, never wavers. “But Jase, the difference is... your music is BAD.”

Other Events in Which I Would Receive an Honourable Mention:

  • Squeezing the Freaky Recurrent Blackhead in Jason’s Back Tattoo

  • Nagging (Wives Only Event) ... or as I like to call it 'Calling Attention to Requests Still Outstanding'

  • Driving on Either Side of the Atlantic With Ease and Aplomb

  • Searching Estate Agents Websites for Houses I’ll Never Be Able To Afford

  • Procrastinating Important Writing Projects By Blogging Instead

  • Doritos
 There you have it. Oh, before I forget: GO TEAM CANADA!
**NUFC = Newcastle United; we won 5-0 that day. Toon Army!

PS - the inspiration for this post came from my wise and wonderful friend Melissa -- go check out her blog!

Tuesday, 23 February 2010

Northside Tattooz - Life List #32

Tuesday, 23 February 2010
So yesterday I added to my tattoo collection. Okay, so the two I already had barely qualifies as a collection but whatever... now I’ve got four! Is four a collection? Why, yes! Yes, I believe it is.

I went along to Northside Tattooz in Whitley Bay yesterday afternoon and sat with the charming Hash, who very ably ink-scratched the initials of my two babies into the underside of my wrists, thus enabling me to do some scratching of my own – scratching an item off my Life List:

#32.  Get more tattoos
So what do you think?
Day-um, Mama needs a manicure, fo shizzle.

Hash was an absolute gent who made me feel at ease straight away, and I was delightfully distracted from the hurtiness of the whole thing with a very enjoyable natter -- we spent a happy half hour conferring over the many intersections of our musical preferences (hello? favourite thing to do?) and also about Canada and its infinite coolness.

Get thee to Northside, dear readers. 

This one’s for Hash – what a rock star:

Monday, 22 February 2010

Fortissimo Fridays - Chapel Club

Monday, 22 February 2010
Click the tape to visit this Friday's artist's web page.

Hey kids.

I've neglected my blog this week because Mammy P's MAMMY has been visiting from Canada, and there was lots and lots of stuff to do with her... more on that later.

But here is a gift!  Again, it's something NEW!  (Can't hardly believe it myself!)

But -- I resisted this song at first.  When I first heard it on BBC6 Music's Breakfast Show I was all, "Oh, hi there, Karaoke Morrissey!" but I've gotta tell you, it is growing on me! 

It beggars belief, especially given my obvious, natural and instinctual aversion to bands who make a living by trying to sound like other bands (ref: every single pop/punk Green Day tribute act like Blink 182 and Sum41 and I don't even know why I'm using this as an example because I hate them all anyway...) but this?  THIS I turn up when it comes on the radio!  THIS I was humming this morning when I was mixing baby banana porridge.

Everyone knows, if you hum something while you're mixing baby banana porridge... I mean, is there any higher accolade in the land?

I'm seriously interested -- Smiths fans, Gene fans, Joy Division fans, this means you -- in what you think of this track.  Is it just me?

Again... can't embed this video because it was posted officially on YouTube by Polydor... but here is the URL.  Click here NOW:

Thursday, 11 February 2010

Dear Diary - Valentine's Day, WHA-HOOOOO!!!

Thursday, 11 February 2010
Thursday 13th February 1997.

It’s Valentine’s Day tomorrow. I’m not going out of the house. Just as well... the awesome delivery of cards, flowers, chocolates and other tokens of endearment and hopeless devotion would only have prevented me from getting out the door. Not to mention the queue of eligible bachelors snaking its way down the corridor of the apartment. So depressed. I have lived through twenty-one (count ‘em, 21!) Valentine’s Days without a single molecule of affection from a member of the opposite sex on the 14th of February. Why, why, why do I never have boyfriends in February? All that flowerey-chocolatey-romancey-pukey shit?! I NEED ALL OF THAT! I am going to wear all black tomorrow. And I’m going to mope around all day feeling very, very sorry for myself. I am going to scowl and grimace at regular intervals, and sigh heavily and dramatically. That’s my fucking celebration – bring on the boys.

Monday, 8 February 2010


Monday, 8 February 2010
A few months ago I sorted myself out with a Google Analytics account.  It basically looks at the traffic to my blog and produces a handy report every once in a while which tells me statistics about where my traffic comes from.

One of the best bits about it is the 'keywords' function, which tells me what people Google in order to find my site.  These are usually hilarious so I thought I'd share my favourites from this week:
  • "Is it selfish to have a lifelist?"
  • "slutty mammy"
  • "slutty bra"
  • "hot toon mammy"
  • "myth behind mammies and pyramids"
Love it.  However you arrive here, welcome one and all!  Keep clicking!

Friday, 5 February 2010

Fortissimo Fridays: Swell

Friday, 5 February 2010

Click the tape to visit this Friday's artist's web page.

Okay kids, listen up. It’s time to get serious now about your musical education. Most of this Friday tunes thing I have been doing has largely been for my own amusement, because there isn’t much more that I like than wasting valuable time procrastinating against really important things while I pick through You Tube to try and find old songs so I can wax nostalgic. But now it’s time to introduce you to one of my favourite bands EV-ER... devoted Bloggees: it's time for you to meet SWELL.

I can’t remember for certain, but I think it was my friend Kevin who first introduced me to them. He dealt in music and cruelty in equal doses, for back in the day he used to make me lots of lovely mix tapes but used to take delight in my vexation from purposely never writing a corresponding track listing – I went bananas, he laughed at me. So if I liked something, I had pester the life out of him before ultimately resorting to shameless trickery (usually copious amounts of some fermented beverage or other would do) before the adorable bugger would reveal who was who. And so it was with Swell. I got it out of him eventually and I’m proud to say that I have been comparatively more promiscuous than he in spreading the Swell love to fellow music afficionados; apologies if there are those amongst you who onto whom I have already pushed my Swell-thusiasm.

The track you are about to hear was probably the first Swell song I ever heard and it was nigh-on love at first listen. It’s a good intro piece which should give you a fairly decent idea of what they are all about; unpretentious, straight ahead, no bullshit. Melodies which at first appear unassuming but perfectly complement the guitars in a carefully crafted way. The thing I love the most about this track especially, are the drums. I’ve always had a daft little fantasy that there wasn’t a drum kit in sight when the tapes started rolling on this one but rather an assembly of cardboard boxes and up-ended buckets of varying pitch... have a listen – do you hear what I mean? If you’re into Pavement, Sebadoh, the Pixies... these fellas will be right up your street.

There is always a lot of talk about people’s ‘desert island discs’, right? Sure, I have a vague idea of what mine would be, with the following distinction: my desert island discs would be made up of records that I can listen to from start to finish, unable to choose one favourite track over another. Records that I listen to in their entirety, where tracks in isolation just seem wrong somehow. Swell’s 1997 record ‘Too Many Days Without Thinking’ will definitely feature in the Top Ten of this list; I am particularly proud to share them with you this Friday, dear readers. I couldn’t dig ‘em deeper if I had a spade. So without further ado, behold: ‘Is That Important?’

Oh, apologies for the video -- it's not mine but rather one of You Tube's home-made efforts -- but don't watch, just listen.

Tuesday, 2 February 2010

Dear Diary - Introduction

Tuesday, 2 February 2010

I have always been a voracious diary-writer. I’ve got books and journals filled with entries covering my formative years, and on the weekend I made Jason climb up into the loft to get them down, as I periodically do, to read over them and laugh at myself as I re-live (usually with a very healthy dose of mortification) the various entanglements I got myself into. They are really beautiful to look at – I used to cut things out and glue them in... sometimes the entries are handwritten, sometimes they are typed out... I’ve got movie theatre ticket stubs, photos and other mementos stuck inside; they’re a real trip down memory lane. Not surprisingly, most of the really enjoyable rantings are about boys; I seemed to have at least 5 or 6 crushes on a wide ranging cast of characters at any given time (an investment with a very pitiful rate of return, I hasten to add) and oscillated my eternal devotion wildly between them as frequently as I applied lipstick. Like most people who think they know everything during their earlier years, there are volumes and volumes in which I play the totally hard done by, universe-revolves-around-me, everyone-is-wrong misunderstood victim, interspersed with moments of beautiful clarity and admirable coolness. All in all, the whole lot is HILARIOUS. I am currently working on a series of excerpts from these diaries which spans over about a year or so (does anyone remember my hot professor email drama?) which I will post here once I’ve done it, but in the interim I wanted to share with you a little taster of the 1990’s version of me for your amusement. This was when I was at University in Canada:

20th November 1997
Well, my computer is FINALLY fixed. Henry** came over tonight and made it work, but I can’t get on the Internet as it says there is insufficient memory and I only have one font in Microsoft Word. Do you know what this is doing to my creative processes?! IT’S TOTALLY SUFFOCATING! I can’t work with only one font. It’s beneath me! It’s unheard of! It’s dire! And besides, I’m totally hormonal as I type this because I’m on my period and I’m really fucking moody.

I have been able to do nothing at all today. It was horrible. I was so bloody bored. I have so much reading to do for school and I haven’t even touched it. Instead, I cried my eyes out watching “Coronation Street” and “A Wedding Story”. I was completely hormonally wacko. About 5pm I was completely overcome by an unusually strong craving for a veggie and cheese sub from Subway. So I kidnapped Becka** and we went and got subs, came back here and had a great talk (about drugs and masturbation!) for a few hours. It was very cleansing – my nerves were much better after eating that sub.

I don’t think I will be able to handle this Times New Roman shit for much longer. I may have to go to Zellers and buy one of those CDs with loads of fonts on. Yeah! Yeah, then I’ll have like a MILLION different kinds of fonts and I’ll never do any bloody work! AAaaah.

I didn’t go to school today. I should have. I had the gorgeous Michael’s** tutorial this afternoon. But I had really wicked cramps and I needed to stay home and do more important things. Like eat. And watch trashy talk shows. And not have a shower until 6 o’clock. I’m so emotional. I think the best thing for me would be to just go to bed. Or have some sex? Or get a bag of chips. Maybe I’ll go for a drive.

There’s a postal strike on right now. THAT’S why I really didn’t go to school; I wanted to see if it was true. I watched the flap in our door every once in a while and nothing got pushed through it at all. Not even an Avon catalogue! Not even a Bi-Way flyer. Nothing.

I can’t wait for Sunday; then my hormones will be back to normal. I hate menstruation. WHERE ARE THOSE CHIPS?!

**Names have been changed to protect the identity of the innocent.