Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Neptune Scores With "Bingo!"

I don't think I have ever had a bad experience at Neptune Theatre. Seriously. Even so, I don't recall ever laughing quite as much as I did a couple of weeks ago, when I attended a performance of their new play "Bingo!".

I know what you are thinking, and no, this is not a play about a dog with a cool "name-o", nor does it involve anything glow-in-the-dark. It is actually "The Big Chill" transferred to a Cape Breton town - a group of middle-agers gather together to attend their 30-year high school reunion, re-hash old memories, stereotypes and neuroses and discuss new ones. Some of them have stayed put, some have moved on (to Halifax, and Western Canada), both literally and figuratively. All have regrets and "what-if's?" and they have all changed, yet haven't changed a bit at the same time.

First we are introduced to the male's of the group (left-to-right) - Dookie, Nurk and Heifer (in traditional guy fashion, they have given each other silly and slightly derogatory nicknames - silly boys) - in their hometown hotel room, drinking (duh) and talking about their lives. Heifer is a chubby, laid-back jokester; Nurk is a neurotic and slightly uptight engineer; Dookie is an arrogant real estate agent.

Next, we see the girls - Boots and Bitsy - chatting in a local bar about...well, everything (y'all, Bitsy talks A LOT). "Boots" is a tough-talking, leather-jacket-wearing sarcasm machine who clearly covers up her own insecurities with biting comments. "Bitsy" is a slightly ditzy and simultaneously a chatterbox and a shy introvert.

Later, the fivesome comes together and sparks fly, secrets are revealed and new connections are made. (I don't want to reveal too much of the plot because you should go see it for yourself). Leave it to a play set in Cape Breton to be named after a drinking game!

The play has a very simple set-up - there are only two sets, and all scenes consist of the characters basically sitting around and talking. Characters only wear one outfit throughout the entire play, there is no music except during the changes in scene, and few props (except an ever-present bottle of Jagermeister). But the dialogue is rapid-fire and absolutely hilarious. The audience the night I went was practically rolling in the aisles. The cast not only delivered the lines perfectly, but they each had a knack for conveying things through a simple facial expression. I probably enjoyed Heather Rankin's performance the most (she clearly has great comic timing), as I felt she had some of the funniest expressions and body language, plus I felt I could relate the most to her character. However, all the cast were perfect in their roles and pulled me into their individual character, making me laugh at them, feel sorry for them and admire them in sequence.

At the beginning of each scene, one of the main characters would stand at the front of the stage, in a spotlight and deliver a monologue that usually either revealed something about their character or about the next part of the play. They shared an anecdote, a thought or two and sometimes a great piece of advice or a profound insight about life in general. I loved these "intros" -  parts that particularly stuck with me were Boots' comments about happiness and what it means ("How can you know what happiness is, until you know what it isn't?") and Bitsy's story about an old man in her community who is her "hero" and who makes her feel less invisible and insignificant.

So, in a nutshell, the funny dialogue alone is enough reason to go see Bingo! (imho) but in addition you may end up coming away with an insight or two into life in general and your place in it, and isn't that what theatre is all about?

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Big Day Downtown - Numero Tres

Left-to-Right: Krisa Comeau, me, Melissa Dube. Photo by Krista Comeau/Melissa Dube
I was really excited to be chosen by the Downtown Halifax Business Commission to participate in their third annual Big Day Downtown promotion. (Pssst...you can read about my First and Second outings here and here).

In a delightful (and cheeky) twist, we were all randomly paired with another blogger to share our downtown experience, and I was paired with the lovely ladies of Fashion East, which just so happens to be one of my favourite local blogs, not to mention it is about one of my favourite things (aka. fashion). As Chandler Bing might say, could this partnership BE any more perfect?!

No, no it couldn't.

Not only do these girls curate a wicked blog, but they are also very nice and have great style themselves. AND they take beautiful photos, so not only did I get to have a fun day exploring our awesome downtown, but we have great photos to show for it instead of the decidedly non-professional, slightly awry pics that I normally take and post here (win!).

Since there were three of us embarking on this BIG downtown adventure, we decided to choose one favourite for each of us, plus one place to grab a snack (adventuring does make one hungry).

Love you too, B (photo by me)
For my favourite, I chose Biscuit General Store. This is hands-down my favourite boutique downtown - they have so many cute things to wear and put in your home, I could browse in there for days. I had the pleasure of interviewing owner, Wendy Freidman, for Hip Urban Girl last year and it was a great experience. I had to hold back from spending my entire $100 Visa at our first stop!

I haz a cute! (photo by me)
In the end, I settled on a set of 4 moustache kitchen clips (for the boy AND me) and a tin of Smith's Rosebud Salve - this stuff is the BEST! One tin seriously lasts like 2 years, it smells like a rose bush and you can use it for basically any kind of skin issue (chapped lips, blisters, burns, etc, etc, etc).

Photos by Krista Comeau/Melissa Dube
Then we decided we needed sugar and caffeine (again, I will stress the importance of snacks) and we headed around the corner to Le French Fix, a new cafe we had all heard a lot about and had been meaning to try. This cafe is very cute (and tiny!) and my cappuccino was delicious. We shared a few small sweet treats and they were all delicious also (I finally tried a real French macaron!), plus we had a chance to chat a bit, get to know each other.

Photos by Krista Comeau/Melissa Dube

Newly energized from all the conversation, espresso and sugar, we rambled down the hill to Barrington Street, and to a place which provides some stiff competition in my "favourite downtown boutique" category - J&R Grimsmo.

I really want that airplane table (photos by me)
First of all, this boutique is beautifully curated - they have a few very special items that you feel were lovingly handpicked by the owners, and everything is arranged in a very artistic way. Yet, it's also very cozy with the light streaming in the big windows at the front, and the sofa, pillows and interesting tables arranged throughout. It feels like the apartment of an impossibly cool friend (you know the one - the one whose outfits you are always coveting).

Photos by Krista Comeau/Melissa Dube
J&R was celebrating their one-year anniversary on the day of our visit - so exciting! I hope they have many more. They had a great promotion where you could pick a piece of paper from a jar and on that paper would be a % discount off your purchase - I chose 10% (better than a kick in the teeth) and Melissa got 25%! Great idea.

We spent quite a bit of time in here browsing and deciding what to spend the rest of our money on. In the end, I decided on a pair of thick black polka-dot tights and a gold necklace with a ballpoint pen charm. I LOVE that necklace and have worn it every day since buying it. The items in this store are a tad pricey, I can't lie, but they are great quality and many are made by local artisans, so it feels good to support their hard work with a few extra bucks.

Photo by Krista Comeau/Melissa Dube
I can't thank the Downtown Halifax Business Commission AND Krista and Melissa for the great Big Day Downtown. Now, I suggest that all Halifax residents get your butt's downtown and start exploring!

I showed you mine, now you have to show me yours *wink-wink*

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

In The 'Hood

For those not living in Halifax (or if you live in Halifax, but under a rock), we are having a municipal election right now so naturally it's all anyone can talk about. It's quite heated this time around because (in a nutshell) our mayor and city council absolutely SUCK and need to be all thrown out. A "do-over" is in order, and that's what all we citizens are hoping for, including me.

With this "election fever" sweeping the city lately, I have been trying to learn a bit more about my new District. I say 'new' because I only moved here six months ago (I lived in another District at the time of the last election). Not to mention it's a neighbourhood I was not very familiar with previously and (honestly) it was not my first-choice area to live in when the boy and I first planned moving in together. That being said, the area is relatively central and rent is cheap, so here we are! And I am becoming more and more acquainted with the area over time and it's starting to grow on me.

*Did I mention that we live in District 12? When I found that out, I couldn't help but picture me in a ring fighting the guy across the hall to the death*

Anyway, in an effort to become more acquainted with my new neighbourhood, I have been trying to frequent businesses in the area as much as possible. One plus about our location is that we are very central in Clayton Park West - we are basically halfway between two major shopping strips so pretty much any shop or restaurant or clinic or bank we could possibly want is within a 10 minute walk. 

Here are a few of my District 12 favs (so far):

1. Keshen Goodman Library
Before I moved to Clayton Park, I am ashamed to say I had not visited the Library in several years and had developed a bit of an unhealthy addiction to Chapters. Well, considering this Library is literally across the street from my apartment building, and that I am on a tight budget (new books are expensive, y'all) I decided I needed to be a good citizen and start visiting the Library more. 

First of all, isn't the architecture of this place cool?!

Almost all the walls are lined with windows, which makes for a bit of a hot interior on a sunny day, but still cool to look at. Walking around a library is so soothing, don't you think? It's so quiet and just full of people either reading or browsing books. I love that they have a self check-out here, and they often have neat speakers or events happening in their event room. I particularly love that I can borrow books from here for my Kobo (in case, you know, I'm so lazy that I can't even make it across the road).

2. Canada Games Centre
This building is also directly across the street from my apartment (did I say good location?), and is another new building of modern design. It was built to host the aquatic events of the 2012 Canada Games, so as you can imagine the pool area is pretty bangin'.

Check out that water slide!

Ok, so I have to admit - I have never actually visited this place before. However, I plan to take my sister swimming there soon! They have community swims every Tuesday and Thursday night that anyone can attend - it only costs $3! Personally, I can't wait to get my butt in the hot tub with a cocktail (they won't mind if I keep gin in my locker, right?). And I do just like looking at the place, if nothing else; it's nice to see some interesting architecture in a suburban area (breaks up the big box store haze).

3. Restaurants
If I had one major complaint about my new area it's that there are not ANY interesting local restaurants (think Applebee's and East Side Marios and their look alikes). The choices out here are pretty homogeneous, which is something that bugs me and I hope changes. Suburban areas can have fun, fresh food choices too! Here are a few that I like:

Not to say that burgers and fries are anything special, but although Flipburger is a chain, it at least has a fun, modern vibe and meals that actually use fresh ingredients instead of bites made blah from heat lamps. They actually include local ingredients, such as Oulton's bacon on their menu too, which is also refreshing.

I have written about Happy Sushi on the blog before, but I will say it again - whoever thought up the concept of "All You Can Eat Sushi" AND putting it 2 minutes away from my apartment is a frickin' genius and I want to kiss them.

A big fav is Mexico Lindo, which isn't exactly in my own backyard but it's close enough. It's HANDS DOWN the most authentic Mexican food in the city, everything is really fresh and the prices are reasonable - what more could you ask for?! Don't believe me - check out my review on Yelp. This is a definite "go-to" when we want a fresh but delicious meal.

Thanks for taking a tour of some of my "so-far" favourites in my new 'hood. Now get out there and explore yours!

Do you like your neighbourhood? What do you like about it? What would you change? Do you try and get out and explore yours or do you prefer to visit other areas?

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Radio Two

 I have had a special treat for the past couple of weeks. And it has nothing to do with chocolate.

I know. I'll just give you a moment to collect your jaw off the floor.

I have been driving my mom's car - when she or her boyfriend are away, I get to borrow her car and this gives me a much-needed break from taking public transport back and forth to work each day (kill me). The best part of it is, I get all the benefits of having a car to drive, without all of the responsibility. Sort of like babysitting your grandkids - you get to have all this fun with them and pump them full of sugar, then you get to hand them over right when they become irritable and say 'here you go!'.

One of the treats that comes along with driving back and forth to work every day is getting to listen to the radio. This may not sound very exciting, but when you take the bus every day, you really don't get to listen to the radio, like ever. This isn't a huge deal to me either until I hear my friends (my friends with cars) talk about a current song, and I have never heard of it. Makes me feel kinda silly. I do feel a little out of the loop regarding news and current pop culture when I don't listen to the radio.

I have gotten in the habit of listening to CBC Radio 2 during my commute (102.7fm in Halifax), which is surprising because I was not happy with this station a few years back when they completely changed all the programming. Specifically, I was unhappy that they got rid of a great classical music morning show, hosted by Tom Allen, that my mother and I would devour happily every morning on our blah drive over the bridge to work and school respectively (when I still lived at home).

Tom always told the most delightful anecdotes about each piece of music before playing it, so it was very educational and interesting to listen to. We ALL need a perk during that morning drive surrounded by traffic and drowsiness (am I right?) and this was ours. Suffice to say all these changes to programming caused a bit of an uproar amongst CBC R2 fans, and I stopped listening to the station almost altogether.

I suppose part of the reason I started listening again was because of a lack of quality and unique music elsewhere on the airwaves. Don't get me wrong, I'm all for an upbeat, catchy pop song once in a while - I like me some Lady Gaga, Pink and Nikki Minaj once in a while, so I'm certainly not one to completely denounce popular music, but that doesn't mean I respect all popular music. Frankly, a lot of it sounds the same and a lot of it is so massively overproduced that I am convinced many of the artists have no real talent at all. Sometimes I just want to hear something different, ya know? Something with lyrics about deeper and more emotional subjects than getting drunk and humping on a dance floor (so sue me).

CBC Radio not only plays music by lesser-known artists - particularly songwriters (you know, people who actually can sing, play instruments, and write songs) - but they also highlight mostly Canadian content, which is also refreshing when the airwaves are clogged with homogenous American acts.

Here are a couple of songs that have caught my ear in the last week or so - so much so that I had to Shazam them (as best I could while driving...shhhh, don't tell my mother), and email myself a reminder to download them. I figure a song must speak to you if you're willing to go through that kind of effort to ensure it gets on your iTunes. I thought I would share them with you as well, in case you are looking for some musical inspiration right now (see below).

Ok, ok, Radio 2, I admit it - you have brought me back into your fold. I guess changes can turn out for the best.

(By the way, if you are looking for some new music, how 'about changing your usual radio station and listening to something different? Give it a try today - you may hear some songs that you can't wait to Shazam, too!).

I don't know about you, but I was NOT expecting this singer to be a woman! Love her deep, gravely voice!

One of the best voices in music today, IMHO

Recognize this one? ;)

Discovered any great music lately? What radio stations do you like to listen to?

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Liberal Arts

The Atlantic Film Festival just wrapped up my fair city, and alas I only had the time and money to make it out to one film. Luckily it turned out to be a good choice.
Liberal Arts attracted me because it stars and is written/directed by Josh Radnor, aka. Ted Mosby on How I Met Your Mother (one of the most original and funny sitcoms on tv, imho). I have also been hearing a lot about Elizabeth Olsen but had yet to see any of her movies, and I was attracted to the romanticized University setting since I work at a University and cherish my own time as a student. There is just something about University campuses and the mood and energy they impart - it's hard to explain but it's almost like there is a pulse of people learning and doing cool, innovative things that reverberates throughout everything. Although I am merely a secretary in one small department in one large institution, I feel this energy every day when I walk onto the campus to my office.

In any case, it seemed like a fun, quirky movie with some subject matter that would speak to me so off we went! This movie has been compared to Garden State a lot and I can see why - it has the same sort of twenty-something, "trying to figure out my life" kind of vibe but I found it was more intellectual than GS and had a lighter mood.

First of all, Elizabeth Olsen?? She is like freakin' ADORABLE! She's just so darn pretty and has such a great, grainy voice, plus she just seems really 'cool' and smart - like someone you would want to be friends with. I mean, look how cute:

The film definitely had a slow pace (this isn't the Expendables, people) so some parts felt a little long, but for the most part I liked the pace. The quirkiness was actually verging on overkill at some points too, but again this is a small complaint. The random Zac Efron 'fairy-like' hippy dude character was sort of strange - like there were times where I questioned whether or not Jesse (Josh's character) was actually seeing him or not - but he was also pretty hilarious. I like to see actors who are somewhat typecast playing characters that are completely against their usual role.

I liked the conversations between Jesse and Zibby - one especially great bit was an ongoing argument about a series of "vampire books" (which are clearly meant to be representative of the Twilight series) and how they "empty your mind"...and whether or not that is a good thing. I also liked a part at the end where Zibby tells Jesse she figured she was using him as a kind of "shortcut" to adulthood. In fact, all the dialogue surrounding the strengths, weaknesses and fears about college and "growing up" all rang true with me - I think we have all been in that place where we are simultaneously excited about the next stage in our lives and terrified.

Another actor who is awesome? Richard Jenkins. He has a relatively small part in this film but his feelings resonate across the screen so well. You really feel his retiring professor's depression, fear and loneliness at entering a new stage he was looking forward to for so long, but did not love as much once he got there. (If you haven't seen The Visitor, you really should. Like now. Now's good). AND as if that wasn't enough, Alison Janney has a bit part as another professor. She is another one of my favourite actors and she does NOT disappoint in this role. She's hilariously cold, snobby, boozy and insightful all rolled into one.

What about you??? Seen any good movies lately? What did you like/dislike about them? Do you yearn to go back to college or did you loathe your college experience?

Friday, September 14, 2012


I was perusing a gift shop in North Conway, NH back at the beginning of August, and as I am often wont to do I wandered into the book section, intrigued by the variety of titles...

Is anyone else really attracted to books by their covers?? Ok, ok, I know we're not supposed to do that, but I can't help it! If a book has a cool cover, it just pulls me in - makes me pick it up and read the back. I buy books all the time just based on the cover and the description on the back only and my instincts usually do not fail me.

Anyway, this one book in particular pulled me in - I did buy it, and am I ever glad I did:

I had never heard of Beryl Markham before, which shocked me, considering what a fabulously adventurous and public life she had. She was the first woman to fly cross the Atlantic solo non-stop, and east-to-west, which at that time was considered the "hard" way because of winds (Amelia Earhart may have been the first woman to cross the Atlantic period, but she did not actually fly the plane - didn't know that either!). In this flight, she also became the first person to make it from England to North America non-stop east-to-west.

Fun fact: On her cross-Atlantic flight, she actually crash-landed in a bog in a place called Baleine Cove, Cape Breton. She spent some time there and in Halifax (my hometown!) while her plane was repaired, before moving on to New York City, where she was greeted by thousands of people celebrating her record. The Nova Scotia government even contributed money to a brass replica of her plane, commissioned by the RAF for the 50th anniversary of her flight. Who knew when I picked up that random book in that random store in NH that I would find a connection between my home and an important historical event!

She worked as a bush and medical pilot for years in South Africa, where she was raised, often making dangerous flights on her own in extremely remote areas. She also became a noted and respected horse trainer in Kenya and trained/competed well into her 70's. And this at a time when women were not generally allowed to have careers, let alone "adventurous" "dangerous" and "male" ones like the ones she chose.
She was married three times, and had many scandalous love affairs, including a long-standing one with Prince Henry (brother of the eventual King George VI, aka Colin Firth). It was widely believed that the Prince was the father of her son, although this was never proven. Another of her lovers was Denys Finch-Hatton (aka, Robert Redford) and they were actually in a relationship at the time of his death in a plane accident.

I found this story of BM's life fascinating - Mary S. Lovell writes with such detail and such respect for her subject, while also being honest about her flaws. Her research is clearly impeccable. She even got to meet Beryl in the mid-80's, spending several weeks with her talking and going through her personal papers and photographs. What a wonderful opportunity. This book was written before I was even born and my only reservation about that is that I never got to meet BM myself! It sounds like she would have been a sparkling dinner companion, as my mother would say.

There are so many wonderfully quirky and dynamic people that are hidden in the anals of world history and it's a shame more people do not know about them. This particularly applies to women I suppose because their achievements were not always afforded the same attention as those of men. I loved this book so much that I read Lovell's bio of Amelia Earhart immediately after (yet another notorious aviatrix, but one with a very different life and character).
Here's a tip from me to you - pick up a bio of someone you have never heard of the first chance you get and read it. You never know what you will learn or what they will inspire you to do.
What did Beryl and her author inspire ME to do? Well, try and track down THIS gem, for one! Anyone know where I could find it?? Wish me luck!

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Falling in Love

One of the things I hate about Nova Scotia weather is the seasons always seem to change so abruptly. One minute it's 30 degrees and hot and sunny, and the next you are wearing 4 layers just to go to sleep in your tent Labour Day weekend (this is not hypothetical - this was my LD weekend).

This was the week of 'the shift' and I am still a bit depressed about it. It's still warm enough to wear sandals during the day and the calendar doesn't officially shift for another couple of weeks, but there is definitely a new crisp chill to the air and just a general movement towards a more Fall-like mood.

That being said, I do LOVE Fall. I love me some sunshine, sand and swimming, but there is just something so romantic and heartwarming about this season. It sort of feels like a new start but a lead-up to hibernation at the same time - you are getting 'back to the grind' while also looking ahead to the colder weather and shorter days. I love...

...that it's cool enough to wear a couple of layers but warm enough that you don't need to bundle up.

I love cozy layers - sweaters and scarves - leggings and boots - cute hats and fingerless gloves - ponchos - rich, warm colours - cute braids and hair twists. I love fall fashion.

*all photos can be found here*

...the spicy, fragrant, flavours of Fall.

I love pumpkin (anything) - cinnamon, ginger and spice - apple pie - hot soups and stews - warm, aromatic drinks - sweet potato and squash - Thanksgiving dinner. I love Fall flavours.

*All photos can be found here*

I can't wait to go apple picking, drive and hike through vibrant yellow and red trees, cook up a comforting giant crock-pot meal, (hopefully) cook and host my 1st Thanksgiving dinner, wearing printed scarves with all my outfits, decorate my apartment with Fall colours and scents, etc. Sure, I'm sad to see summer go, but I'm also excited for what's to come.
What do you love (or not love) about Fall? Are you excited or apprehensive about the change of seasons? Any fun plans for the next two months?

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Beer Gut

All Photos by me - Seaport Brewing Co., Portland ME
Don't let the above photo fool you.

This never used to be me - I was never much of a beer person - at least until I met my boyfriend. I would have one here and there when out with friends at a pub but would never buy it for myself to drink at home, didn't really understand the differences between different kinds and always kind of thought of it as a drink better suited to males of considerable size and not so considerable manners.

However, my boyfriend is a beer connoisseur - he understands how it is made, is knowledgeable about different brands and loves to try different brews from different places. I have to say he has opened my mind considerably about beer and I find myself enjoying sampling different kinds as well, and appreciating them more also.

Do you know how much work goes into making one batch of beer? There are like a million steps! So, it takes a lot of care and patience. And there are endless flavours that can be concocted from different brewing methods, which I really never realized before. I am kind of in awe of the amount of love and devotion that brewers put into their craft.

We recently went on a road trip to New England and I discovered that there is a huge contingent of microbreweries in this area. We visited the Shipyard Brewing Company in Portland, Maine and sampled all of their bestselling brews (and perhaps picked up a few drink-related items in the gift shop). Their Pumpkinhead Ale is delicious and is now one of my favourites!

We ate out at one of Portland's most acclaimed restaurants and drank a couple other great local beers (Allagash White and Narragansett Summer Ale). We even came home with a variety case of various beer, many of them from New England (thank you, lax USA liquor laws) so we can keep up the tasting long after the trip. They really brew with love down there. You can practically feel the warmth of pride radiating through your body when you pick up the bottle and tip the liquid down your throat.

Some of our haul
Just a couple weekends ago, the Seaport Beerfest was held here in Halifax and we got to sample even more! I tried 9 or 10 to be exact, which is actually less than last year (I think I topped out at 15). This time we got to try beer from all over the world and across Canada. I tried concoctions brewed with everything from coffee and cocoa to spruce leaves and pears (another new discovery: I am also a big fan of cider now - and hey, there are some great ones made in Nova Scotia!). 

Always a lover of silly, random facts I was greatly amused by a marketing project employed by Northampton Brewing out of Fredericton - their Melonhead brew (a watermelon flavoured beer) features a photo of a crazy-looking cat wearing a watermelon helmet, which is funny enough by itself, but they actually hold a contest wherein people submit photos of their cat and each year the company chooses a new one to grace the label! We bought a bottle of this last year in Quebec with a grey striped Tabby on it, and the posters at Beerfest had a black cat with its tongue sticking out. I think I'm going to enter this photo for consideration next year, what do you think?:

I am so short I could barely get my head in that hole. For reals.

I smell best-seller.

Don't like beer? I understand, I used to be with you, but I would encourage you to give it a chance. There is so much more out there than Bud Light (lets be honest, you might as well have water as that).

Are you a beer-drinker? What is your favourite summer patio refresher? Have you ever written off a specific type of drink only to discover a newfound appreciation for it?

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Department of Gossip

Yay for new discoveries! That is what this blog is all about, after all.

It just so happens that I made two great discoveries this week (and it's only Wednesday - HOLLA!), as follows:

1) Vitamin water and vodka go really well together
2) I am a big fan of LaineyGossip

Ok, ok so #2 may not necessarily count as a 'new' discovery, simply because I already liked Lainey and her blog but first of all, I only read on a semi-regular basis (nothing to do with content, trust me - I read a lot of blogs and it's tough to keep up with all of them, y'all), and second of all you can only get SO much about a person from their posts - you often have to meet them in person to get the full dose of their character. For me, this is the way it was with Lainey - she is hilarious and dynamic in print, but even moreso in person.
Me and my date, Kim P
I was excited to be invited to her kick-off event for the Faculty of Celebrity Studies series, but also intimidated (I have to be honest) - I consider myself to be quite knowledgeable about pop culture and celebrity news, but I knew that some of the people in attendance would have vastly more knowledge than I and I was concerned about being quizzed on the spot next to them - would I make an ass out of myself? I don't like to admit it, but I was never one with enough cajones to participate in class so being 'called on' is like one of my worst fears (pathetic, I know).

Quiz time! Not sure what my mark was :(
Isn't FRED a cool space?!
Well, I needn't have worried because I was not put on the spot, nor was the environment intimidating in any way - it felt like sitting around my living room, gossiping with girlfriends over a glass of wine - not even close to the mind-numbing boredom of most traditional lectures.

I don't even like using the word "lecture" for Lainey's presentation because it smacks of pretension and scolding, and her talk (there, that's a better term) was not even close to that - in reality it was super informative, insightful, sassy, honest and witty. I found myself bouncing between laughing my head off and murmuring "hmm" and "so true" to myself at regular intervals in the manner of someone absorbing incredibly good points.

For this was not just a gab session about Kristin Stewart, this was a discussion of the greater societal issues that feed into (and are fed by) the celebrity machine. Her "thesis statements" regarding how women are regressing, celebrity as an ecosystem and celebrity as economic reflection really spoke to me and I completely agreed with her logic.

Ok, I know what you're thinking - probably something related to how silly I am for trying to make something as "shallow" as celebrity gossip deep and meaningful - but I really do feel that there are deeper issues that lay underneath most popular culture norms that shouldn't be dismissed as mere flake.
Aren't her shoes wicked?
Plus, come on - it's fun! Really, what is more fun than gossiping about people we don't know and will (likely) never meet?! And who lead such crazy, weirdly orchestrated lives! And that's the thing about Lainey - although she talks really smart, she also talks really fun - brutally honest, profanity-laced fun - and I love her for that. Let's just say that 3 hours whizzed by really quickly listening to her talk.

Oh, and did I mention I STUFFED my face with like a bajillion mini turkey burgers, goat cheese/pork tenderloin crostini thingys, and cupcakes? Those FRED folks really took care of us - so much so that I almost had to roll my super-full body (with flushed cheeks from the yum vodka cocktail of the evening - natch) out the door and home. Plus, we got to draw on the walls with markers, which is something I am pretty sure my landlord would frown upon (although I have yet to try it).

So, do me a favour...ok, actually 2 favours: Go eat lunch at FRED (if you haven't already) and read Lainey's blog (again, if you haven't already). Meanwhile I am going to talk to our Associate Dean (disclosure: I work in the Faculty of Graduate Studies at Dalhousie University) about adding a new program to our roster - the Department of Gossip! I can see it now! If you haven't thought of graduate school before now, ladies, you may wanna reconsider. Pretty sure Dean Lainey's office hours would include cocktails.

*psssst! btw here's a great article in my local paper about the event: "Celebrity gossip, when it’s done right, is an observation of human behaviour." - LG*