Friday, July 29, 2005

there's a fine line between "ooh, sexy" and "you should probably see a doctor about that"

Blog entry title thanks to my friend Ken, who almost always says the right thing at the right time.

We went to see War of the Worlds tonight, starring Tom Cruise (who Ken aptly, if half-inaccurately, referred to as "that buck-toothed dumbass"). It was pretty good, for summer blockbuster schlock, and there was one point that made me squeal like a piggy, which is really all you can hope for from action-packed blockbuster movies about the demolition of the world and the violent mass-murder of all humanity.

I should probably have boycotted it as a feeble personal protest against Cruise's incredibly moronic comments about psychology and psychotherapeutic drugs, or really, for just how annoying he is about being in love with a twelve year old named Katie Holmes. (I mean, I'm not a fan of slapping every excitable kid on Ritalin, but I also know a bunch of people whose lives have been saved by effective use of anti-depressants, anti-anxiety drugs, etc, and some kids who have been really helped by Ritalin. I don't know, who am I to judge?) But if I'd boycotted it, who would win? The tripod aliens would win, that's who.

So about the movie -- I do think the Muppet Show's Statler (one of the cranky old judges) was right on the money in his review of War of the Worlds when he said of Dakota Fanning, who plays Cruise's daughter in the movie -- "and for a completely digital character, that little girl is remarkably lifelike."

(It's a little depressing to see the old guys pimped out to corporate whoredom for like that, but I admit, Pepe the backstage-manager muppet partially won me over by pronouncing "Miss Congeniality" as "Miss Congenitalia".)

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

ooo wee I'm right behind

I have had an average of five hours of sleep every night for the last four nights. I am going to bed in a few minutes.

Thursday night we went to the Kopper King in Whitehorse for the $2 pints. I was driving so I didn't get hosed but my sister sure did. She was amazing and totally tore up the dance floor, which was for the most part populated by Whitehorse kids in their early 20s who have been watching way too much Electric Circus (is that still on?) and practicing how to dance like the Black Eyed Peas at home in the mirror. It was hilarious. My sister's wacky friend Margi had a dance-off with a guy who had on a tight wife-beater, low-slung shorts, and a cap turned a little sideways. If it were back in the day, he would have been a prime candidate for Fame, you know, the kid from the small town with a lot of 'tude and big, big dancing dreams. By the end, Margi was doing stylistic karate chops around his ass, hopping around and sticking out her tongue. It was fantastic.

Friday we got up and drove 6 hours to Dawson City for the Dawson City Music Fest. It was a terrifically fun weekend. There were little mini-gigs from around noon on every day, then a break from about 5-7, then the main stage would start hopping, and so would the Palace Grand Theatre, and the music would go until 2 AM.

Because that far north the sun just barely sets around 1 AM or so, then rises a few hours later after a mini-dusk, it was easy to go to bed at 4 AM most nights, then sleep until 8 or 9 to get up for a yummy breakfast at Klondike Kate's, then stagger out to catch some more music.

Rik, you have to check out the awesome weirdness of Tanya Tagaq who has even collaborated with Bjork. I think most men in the audience found her simultaneously extremely hot and just a little frightening.

My brain is about to crack in two from exhaustion so I'm off to bed now. Wish me luck at work tomorrow. Or better yet, start by wishing me luck with just sleeping tonight. 4 AM Yukon time is 7 AM Ontario time, i.e. I might as well curl up in a ball right now and die, since it will be what I feel like doing all day tomorrow.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

requirements for residence in the Yukon

Heading home on July 26th. My sister is working full time and it doesn't make sense to stay. There's only so much I can do in a day with seven free hours and a truck.

I've been having a great time, it's just that it's starting to feel like after next Tuesday, I'm either going to have to go back to Ontario -- OR I'll have to stop shaving my legs and move here and get a muddy truck and dog that's part wolf. Which I'm just not prepared to do. Yet.

Happy news. I have a new "Yukon Gold Rush" belt buckle. If you want one, tell me now so I can pick one up for you for $8. They are super cheesey, made of fake burnished brass.

Monday, July 18, 2005

Dall Sheep give me the fackin' 'orn!

A number of times we were lucky enough to have a light headwind, just enough that we were down wind of the animals and they couldn't smell us or hear us as well, but without our progress being impeded (in most places on the Wind river, the breeze would have to be pretty damn strong to counteract the current). So we saw quite a lot of wildlife.

I liked the Dall Sheep, how they walk along paths in nearly vertical walls of sand and rubble. They poop little tiny pellets and are generally a mix of skittish and curious. They run at the slightest possibility of danger, but really can't wait to get to a distance they consider safe enough to look back and stare and wonder about you for a while. They're like shy children who will dart to the safety of clinging to a parental thigh, then scrutinize you with a stern and steady gaze -- as long as you stay Over There.

One day on a sand bar we got out to walk and look around. Back from the shore where the willow was starting to grow with it's slim silvery leaves, one of the incredibly lovable and fun paddlers I was with found a weathered old curling Dall Sheep horn. I dutifully posed with it. Yes, Sergio Mendes, I will send you the JPG.

My sister calls caribou Caribal. She thinks she got it from our sister-in-law, who is great at intentionally mangling names. We saw lots of caribal, usually travelling in ones or twos at this time of year. I once heard the moose described as a badly drawn cow, but I think that may better suit the caribou, who have round little tubby bodies and nice big noses. I hasten to mention they are also very tasty. I have eaten some delicious caribou smokies - lean and flavourful. J, I may have to bring you some!

Sometimes you could hear Moose crossing the river at night (in perpetual dusk light, as we were quite far north). Their hooves hitting the rocky pebbly bottom of the river sounded like an almost hollow metallic plonk.

More later. I am running out of time here at the Internet cafe and want to wander down to the one bookstore because it also sells maps and I have a huge crush on topographical maps. More later.

Sunday, July 17, 2005

voracious beavers

We're back from the trip. It was so beautiful. A proper update later.

If the guide book is right, it's 320 km from the junction of the Wind River and the Peel River to the ferry crossing on the Dempster Highway just outside Fort McPherson in NWT. After over a week on the Wind River, we paddled that last 320 km stretch in three days, paddling two 12 or 13 hour days, and four hours on the fourth day to do the last 20 or so km, when we had a strong head wind and progress was slow. The Peel River was very low and the current was almost non-existent for much of it, so it was hard going.

I have HUGE MUSCLES right now, and I am exhausted from the paddling and the subsequent 12 hour drive from Fort McPherson.

Among other things, we saw moose, caribou, ptarmigan, snow buntings, bald eagles, hawks of many kinds, tons of peregrine falcons, cheeky ground squirrels, and a lone wolf. We caught and ate arctic grayling, yum. We were eaten by thousands of mosquitos and attacked by a fierce voracious beaver. My sister killed a goose. I collected a lot of pretty rocks. Do you want one?

Saturday, July 02, 2005

change in plans

My sister and I found out about a group of cool women who are leaving to paddle the same river TOMORROW. So instead of going on our own in a week, we're joining them. I've met two of the four and they were terrific. Most have been river guides or taught for Outward Bound, so we'll be in super-competent company. On top of that, they seem kind, sensible and fun.

It's been hectic, driving around Whitehorse (which is beautiful) while my sister cranks out a commissioned article that is due before we go. I have done all the errands, which is fine with me, but now I need a nap.

We'll be back in two weeks, whoo hoo!

Friday, July 01, 2005


Heading into hour three of my three-hour layover here in YVR.

I was so stressed about this trip and I am relieved to report that as soon as I got in Lovey's car* for the ride to the airport, all tension melted away. I have barely slept the last two nights, my busy brain would not shut up about the details, the details, the details. There was so much gear to get, organize, find, pack. So much work at the office to finish up, hand off, prepare, put into one-month hibernation.

One fun bit is that Daniel Lanois was on my plane to Vancouver. I talked with him just a little at the gate because he was right in front of me and it felt totally comfortable to make idle chat. He had great shoes and I told him so. He said they were his favourites but that they were about to die. Which is true, the leather was cracking. He seems like a humble, kind, down-to-earth kind of guy. I almost blurted out "My friend Kim thinks your friend Bono should be the next pope!"... but wisely, I didn't.

I kind of wish my layover here in Vancouver was either just a little longer (so I might have popped into town and gone for a walk on the beach) or a little shorter -- so that I'd be in the air on the way to the Yukon already.

So, under the circumstances, there being Internet stations here is a blessing. I already have read so much, and napped, and in a corny airport restaurant I chatted with an interesting fiddler/biathlon (skiing! shooting!) athlete from Edmonton who is going to take a bow-making course in Victoria at the conservatory. And then, after the fiddler left, just as I was casting about for something to do, the glowing teat of the Internet station caught my eye. Cheap and easy, just how I like my Internets.

Happy Canada Day!

*Lovey Howell III, my hot brilliant Amazonian chick friend who has just moved to my town in Ontario.