Sunday, November 06, 2016

Return To Regal Terrace.

I knew, from the day I moved into my current place, that it was not a permanent thing. When you move in with someone, you tend to compromise things in order to make the arrangement fair, but it's that same polite consideration that can leave a huge empty hole in your heart. I said in the last sentence that we compromised, but really, due to a strict life-long avoidance of conflict, I was the exact opposite of Tom Petty. That is, I will back down in these situations. Thus, his need for more than one bathroom ended up outweighing my need for a yard. His need to live in a newer place (anything built before the 90's was a "trap house" in his opinion) negated my deep love of older inner-city bungalows. I have felt sad the entire time I was here, but more-so since I am now alone in almost 2000 square feet. I knew that as the lease came to a close, I had the chance and opportunity to find somewhere that I could stay for a while. A safe place for Reggie, Tina, and I to start a new life, and that's when it happened. The cutest place on the block I was raised became available, and I have now signed a 16-month lease. I am over the moon.

To explain my fondness for the neighbourhood stretches back to 1986, when my yuppie parents decided to move out of the downtown core and into a tiny inner-city house. I was four at the time, and all of my other downtown preschool friends were being shipped out the the 'burbs in droves. I distinctly remember thinking that everyone I knew must be rich, because I was the only one I knew who didn't have a second floor on their house, and didn't live in over 800 square feet. As a matter of fact, for the longest time, my sister and I were the only kids for about five blocks in any direction. This worked in our favor greatly at Halloween, but we paid dearly by being the weird, isolated sisters when my mom would drive us over the the next community for play dates.

"Oh! You live in Renfrew!", people would say when we would explain where we lived, but don't ever lump a Regal Terrace-er into Renfrew, or Crescent Heights, or Winston Heights, or Bridgeland- we are our own community. I grew up with great pride in my area, and man, did I ever have a good childhood there.

Like all children of the 80's, we played by 80's kid rules like everyone else: come home when the streetlights come on. There was a park down the street, and for many years, this was our park.  If other kids were playing there, we knew they weren't from around there, and we were quick to establish our dominance above them. If I wanted on the slide, and you were on the slide, you were going to have to move, stranger-kid. The pool, ball-diamond, and tennis courts down the street were basically the same.

Inner city living came with it's challenges, too. Every year we would have to get fresh bikes from the police auction, because every single winter, someone would break into the shed and ride away with a bitchin' Barbie two-wheeler with training wheels firmly in place. We had rules in our house about which neighbours we were allowed to speak with, as there was a legit crack den directly beside our house (it's still there and functioning, as far as I am aware). We weren't allowed to cross Edmonton Trail or 16th Ave by ourselves until we were over 10, despite the fact that it was "friend mecca" in both directions, because "if you fight with a car, who do you think is going to win?".

I often tell people that I grew up in the weirdest, quietest part of the inner-city. Despite the fact that two of Calgary's busiest roads intersected about a block from where the house sat, there were times that the neighbourhood seemed to be failing. We couldn't support the Mac's and doughnut shop at the end of the street, and a whole plaza spent years empty and dilapidated. The city ignored the green spaces that dotted every corner. When I told kids where I lived, they would wrinkle their nose. For a while, it was a "bad neighbourhood", but things were about to change. 

I was about 14 when gentrification started to happen. All of a sudden, it was obvious why they had built the ball diamond and the parks- they were anticipating the older folks passing on. Young families started filling up blocks. I capitalized on this by starting up a babysitting service, and there were weeks where I was pulling in a respectable adult paycheque by going to people's houses after school, keeping a rough eye on their kids, and sneakily raiding their refrigerator.  Everyone thought my family was rich in high school, but really, it was the neighbourhood that made me independently wealthy.

There's something comforting for many of us about returning to our childhood home. After I left home at the age of 17 to move to France for a year (again, thank you, babysitting), there was nothing more soothing to me than stepping off the plane, and falling asleep on the couch back in the little house on 14th Ave. My mom sold the house in 2000. It was tough to see it go. We had built so many memories there- a full life at that time, in fact. When I started looking for a place recently, something drew me back in that direction.

So, December 1st I move to an amazing bungalow at the end of the block I grew up on. Yes, there's a yard. Yes, it's old and quirky. I am ready to build the next chapter of my life, and I couldn't be more excited. Get ready, Regal Terrace. That slide is still mine.

~sarah p.

Jams Of The Week (My Hood Edition).

~sarah p.

Saturday, October 08, 2016

I Went To Chuck E Cheese Twice In A Month As An Adult And Lived To Tell About It.

Yep. You read that right. Twice in a month. My nephews are getting to the point where they actually want to spend some time with me, so we've been having a few days where, no matter how ill-advised, my step-sister entrusts me with her children. This month, I thought it would be fun to go pick out Halloween costumes, and then let them pick an activity. I took the six-year-old first. I knew there was going to be no way in hell to escape Chuck E Cheese as an option, because it was directly across the parking lot from the costume store. The ten-year-old, though? I was trying to sell him on going to jump on trampolines instead, but his mind was cemented in: his brother went to Chuck E Cheese, so dammit, he was going to Chuck E Cheese.

Walking though the front doors, the first thing I noticed is how they've turned that place into Fort Knox. There's only one way in and out of the building. You get stamped with invisible ink as you walk in, and they check your stamps with a black light as you leave. I'm sure they are trying hard to shake that "Best Place To Attempt a Kidnapping In America" label. Once you're in, hold on to your fucking hats, because you are about to be engulfed by one million children, and they are stoked to the nines. They are crawling on every ride, every game, every table. They have even built a series of hamster-style Habitrails in the ceiling in case there wasn't enough space for kids go get buckwild.

As a child, I was not aware that Chuck E Cheese was a choice for a Saturday activity. I though the only choices were always swimming, a bike ride, or a walk (side note- great parenting move there, mom and dad). Thus, my experience with the food at Chuck E Cheese was slim-to-nil until this month. We went to a birthday party or two there, but the cuisine would have been the last thing on my mind with all of the aggressive blinking lights. The 'serve your own' soda option seems like a poor move at a children's establishment, but I'm sure all the single dads hunkered down at the table watching action movies on their iPad might appreciate it. Here's the real stunner of the day: the pizza was wildly good. I wouldn't call this an authentic Napoletana experience, but if you get down with a slice of greasy pepperoni now and again, then make sure you don't skip the pizza. It just might save your sanity down the line.

In 2016, Chuck E Cheese decided to switch up their on-stage entertainment, and moved away from the animatronics of yesteryear, favoring on-screen skits on TVs placed around the establishment, and lots and lots of time with the big guy himself. Every five minutes or so, children and adults alike would be serenaded by the single song that the Chuck E Cheese bigwigs apparently threw all their capital into: "The Happy Dance". Imagine, if you will, that someone's dad who used to enjoy Good Charlotte back in the day, and someone's dad who dearly prizes his cassingle of Eminem's "Lose Yourself" that he bought back in '02, were tasked with writing a Chuck E Cheese theme song. The sound they seem to be going for something like the quasi-inspiring, pushy background music of an Isis recruitment video, or something that Vin Diesel might play as he does a 360 into the parking lot of his kid's daycare. Just as I was trying to tell myself that children would never, ever fall for such an oddly marketed attempt at getting their attention, my nephew interrupts me: "I LOVE this song". You might be curious at this point, but don't say I didn't warn you. One listen, and you're still going to be giving yourself a high-five three weeks later. This song is probably the sole reason they started serving alcoholic beverages to parents, but be warned: no amount of booze can erase the memory of a dirty costumed mouse playing air guitar.

We ate pizza, ran around like total dicks, and played lots of games. Some of the games give you tickets, and some of the games are useless. If you really want your children to understand how the economy works, the Chuck E Cheese is not a terrible place to start. Why? You put in a whole lot of time and effort and when you take those tickets up to the front, what do they tell you? You can only get the crappy Kanye shutter shades or three stale Airheads. Those prize wall folks are the REAL heroes, because they've got a million grabby hands coming at you at all times, and you just have to stand there all mellow and crush tiny dreams. "No, the giant stuffed Slimer is for people that LIVE at Chuck E Cheese. You can only afford a postage stamp and half a peanut".

Along the way, I found some allies. I made eye contact with a grandma that had almost passed out in exhaustion. A dad that had just played skee-ball 40 times in a row gave me a sympathy nod when he saw me being dragged over to the Batman game again. Walking out, I saw the pure joy on my nephew's faces. I contemplated the reality that, minus the giant mouse and all the flashy games, this is what parenthood is all about. Then, I dropped them back with their mom, counted my blessings and gave my pets a kiss, all while that fucking angry mouse song played on a continuous loop in the back of my head.

~sarah p.

Jams Of The Week (RIP Kashif Edition):

~sarah p.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

I Love The 90's... Or Do I?

Imagine my delight when I stopped by Sev on my way home from work Friday night and they were offering Crystal Pepsi Slurpees, but the honeymoon didn't last long, my friends.

Either Crystal Pepsi tasted much better in 1992, or that slick Van Halen marketing campaign had me shook to the core.

It's like trying on capri pants and realizing that, although I was positive I was reminiscent of a Dave LaChapelle-style Aguilera in 2001, I actually just looked like a stumpy soccer mom. Or, like that time I tried to watch the animated version of Watership Down as an adult, and realized it wasn't a topical children's movie about adorable bunnies.

~sarah p.

Jams Of The Week (Early Fall Party Edition):

~sarah p.

p.s. Not sure why, but the best house parties are literally always in the early fall. 

Sunday, September 18, 2016

I'm Baaaaaack (With Hot Makeup Tips):

Hey guys. Remember me? I used to whine on this platform on a regular basis? Well, guess who's back in the motherfucking house? Yep. You guessed it.

I'm not sitting around here like "please take mercy on me, world", but life dealt me a few shitty cards in a row, and I spent a few months just lining things up again, carefully piecing my life back together. Here's what nobody will ever tell you about the unexpected end of a relationship (romantic and professional, at the same fucking time, in my case): you will lose a ton of weight really quickly, and people will tell you that you look great, even if you know that your insides don't feel great at all. Call it shallow, but sometimes those compliments really help you get by. Thus, through it all, I kept my face looking good on purpose. As stupid as it sounds, it really gave me a boost on those rough days to know that, at the very least, I didn't look like I was going through an early midlife crisis.

I'm working an actual, real adult job now. Every day when I go in I feel like an imposter, but at least my face reads as somewhat-mature, thanks to some fancy brushwork and a carefully curated collection. I'm coming through on the other side now, guys. Feeling much better about the world in general, stronger than ever. However, the most important lessons learned over the last few months had nothing to do with protecting my heart, or human resiliency, but rather, how to get my cosmetics game on point.

Here's how to keep your face looking perfect while you mend a broken heart:

You know that "one modest glass of wine buzz" where you get the sudden motivation to try to do an adult cartwheel, but are super, extra careful in case your body doesn't remember how? Welp, that's the secret to perfectly winged liner as well. A very, very slight intoxication (of your choice) seems to steady the hand rather well. Just as the aforementioned tipsy cartwheel, you will nail this look only about 60% of the time. Also, the more lashes the better, so put on about eight coats, combing after each one.
Pro Tip: Use Urban Decay's 24/7 pencil liner to sketch out your wing, then sharpen your lines with Revlon's Colorstay liquid liner. The combo is helpful for those of us that color outside the lines, and will stay put through swims, cry-sessions, and those drunken make-outs that last a million years.

At first glance, it might seem like a bad idea to be taking your lipstick cues from the Love & Hip Hop franchise, but those ladies DO WORK. Trust me, blue and grey and lavender are shockingly wearable, and really pull together an outfit.
Pro Tip: Bold colors on your lips look best when matte. My two favorite brands, in both formula and color selection, are Kat Von D's Liquid Lipstick and anything matte by NYX. To keep your lips from drying out, slick on a light coat of a really waxy balm, like Burt's Bees, or those shitty free ones that you get at work conventions. You don't have to line most of these if you have a steady hand, but if you've ever seen my handwriting, you'd know that it can be a good idea. For colors outside of the red/pink/brown/nude realm, look at the cheapie eyeliner section. I almost always buy Annabelle's Kohl liners, or look on the Essence rack for a color match (their liners are a dollar, you guys). My current favorite look for a night on the town includes NYX's Soft Lip Cream in Stone Fox, and is actually lined by a felt liquid liner from Quo. To tone it down a notch, use a gloss instead of matte formula, but understand that your lips are a legit stain-weapon of mass, uh, stains. Collars, kisses, and white clothing are just begging for the gentlest brush of your lips, depositing the most stubborn little glossy lip prints. Here's a super hot tip for all of my single ladies: a matte lip gets through a really wasty night a lot better than a glossy one.

If you're going to be running into your ex somewhere, the badass classic black liner/red lip combo conveys equal parts of "I've got myself pulled together", and "keep your new bitch in check, please". With sharp liner and severe lips, your brows are going to have to be perfect. Your eyebrows should make you look surprised. Not like, surprise-party level, but rather, "finding five bucks in the pocket of last year's winter coat" level.
Pro Tip: Throw some decent curls in your hair while you're at it, and wear black. There's something about the "Sandy from Grease" vibe that throws shade without even saying a word. Use a sea spray to keep that shit tight the entire night. Sea spray is basic (it's just salt water that has been engineered to not have that rotten fish corpse vibe of actual ocean water), but there's something about it that almost tricks your brain into thinking you've been to the beach.

A good highlighter can erase all of life's mistakes. Hungover? Depressed? Exhausted? Got way too high on weed cookies? Highlight that shit away!
Pro Tip: A pearly highlighter, like MAC's Strobe Cream, can be used your eyelids, while a golden highlighter, Benefit's Watt's Up on your cheeks. It really helps fake that awake/tanned/healthy vibe when you are decidedly none of those things.

If you're lazy and don't feel like doing your makeup, just throw on a really aggressive pair of sunglasses and less clothes than you'd normally wear, and nobody will bother looking at your face.
Pro tip: A bright lip can also distract from tired eyes or that little chip out of your front teeth. If you have something big to cover up, like a zit or a big scratch on your face or something, then you may want to give it the ol' one-two-punch and wear a sassy lip AND leave the top six buttons of your shirt open.

Anyway, the point is, when your heart is pooling in sad little puddles at your feet, just pick up a new black felt-tip liner and fake it 'til you make it. One day you will realize that you can mellow out on the waterproof formula, but obviously they make that shit for a reason. xo

~sarah p.

Jams Of The Week (This Is It Edition):

~sarah p.

Sunday, April 03, 2016

Ten Reasons Action Bronson Is The Worst (That Have Nothing To Do With His Lyrics):

I work with a very-PC group of humans. I say 'humans', because if I needlessly gendered anyone, they'd probably be mad. That means that day in, day out, there are many conversations about oppression, racism, sexism, ageism, and any one of the _phobias. Thus, the big topic at the end of last week was the cancellation of an Action Bronson show on the George Washington University campus due to his song "Consensual Rape", as well as black marks he already had procured with the LGTBQ community. 
I see where they're coming from, but personally disagree with the censorship of artistic material, as well as anything that squelches a person's right for free speech, even if I do not agree with the subject matter. Listen, if every hip hop show got cancelled for offensive lyrics, all we'd be left with is Christian rap, PM Dawn, and Will Smith. Hell, even Common has some mildly misogynistic lyrics. That being said, it's still okay to think that Action Bronson is the worst... I sure do! Here are ten reasons that I think Action Bronson should go away forever:

1. He's an outspoken fan of juicing.
2. He took snaps at Ghostface. Like for a dude that not only sounds like Ghostface, but bit the imagery, the slang, the food references, the metaphors, to the insultingly similar "Bronsolino" to Ghostface's "Ghostdini" nickname, you'd think there's be some sorts of "thanks for getting people used to thick Queen accented-rap" gratitude or something, at least. Maybe even a conscience effort to try your best to create a unique, non-Wu style. Basically, you don't fuck with your forefather... Especially if your forefather is Dennis fucking Coles.
3. He picks and chooses which concerts he hands out weed to the audience. Like, all or none, dude.
4. You know when that report came out last year that said that dudes' beards have poop in them? The first thing I thought of was that revolting mass of red Serb-beard piled right on Action Bronson's chin.
5. His family bought his way into the rap game in 2011, after he got bored of working in his dad's restaurant. He broke his leg working, a year or so after his family-funded stint at the Art Institute of New York, and was like "Daaaaaaaaaad. I don't want to be a highly-trained chef anymore. Too dangerous. Get me a rap career instead".
6. He's got Vice's dick so far up his ass he can no longer sit down. I mean, I like Vice. I think they've got some good news stories, and quirky general interest pieces, and I get that they've bankrolled the last few of his releases, but when did watching a man smoke blunt after blunt while wandering, dapping other fat dudes and inhaling meals, negate as entertainment? Also, if there's a Vice show like that, it better be hosted by the incomparable Eddie Huang.
7. He looks like if you touched him, he would be sticky.
8. Dude is the king of saying stupid shit to the wrong people, then backtracking... If you're going to be a dick, own that shit. The trans-phobic incident, the "consensual rape" incident, the aforementioned Ghostface incident. Come on guy. There's only so many more Facebook apology open-letters you can write. Either come to terms with your own insensitivity, or shut your fucking mouth.
9. Hipsters and college kids speak about him like he's the second coming of Christ, without acknowledging that there's no way the entire hipster rap genre as a whole has about five years left on it's shelf-life, TOPS. These demographics love the guy because they're way too intimidated to go to rap shows where black people go, and there's no way in hell that Ghostface is going to let you have a drag off his joint or pose for a picture with you for your Instagram.
10. This one hurts the most. As a huge sample-nerd, and someone who understands and respects the deep care that someone like J Dilla or MF Doom put into sampling, here are Action Bronson's thoughts on the subject: "We listen to a lot of music and just brainstorm. Like, 'Yeah this will be crazy to rhyme on alright lets loop it up.' Boom there’s a rap song. That’s how it goes, you can’t put too much thought into it." 
Also, there is another part in this same interview where he farts, so there's that, too.

Jams Of The Week (Judd Apatow's 'Love' Edition):

 ~sarah p.

Thursday, February 04, 2016

Ten Signs You Grew Up In Calgary In The 80's/Early 90's.

1.The visit from the pandas had you hyped the fuck up. I ate slices of panda ice cream, and dressed in a panda theme for months in '88.

2. You thought Heidi and Howdy weren't the worst Olympic mascots of all-time. You hear me Izzy? Little fucker.

 3. You remember a time before Hanna-Barbera pulled the plug on a Flinstones-themed Calaway Park.

 4. Even as a small child, you thought the "Hello Calgary" jingle was way, way too fucking enthusiastic.

 5. You still cut your six-pack rings to avoid another "Ed The Duck" incident.

 6. You recall a time when Darrel Janz was deemed a suitable host for the New Year's festivities at First Night Festival, because nothing gets people more jazzed for ringing in a new year than an aging, stoic news dude.

 7. You actually thought, for about 45 seconds, that The Earthtones had a shot at worldwide success, because they made it onto Tarzan Dan's 'Hit List' a few times.

 8. Hell yeah you met Buckshot, and didn't question at all why Benny had a hand up his ass.

 9. You remember when the Sam The Record Man on Stephen Ave started phasing out records to the back of the store. Before long, it was just "Sam's", and you clearly remember the clerk telling your dad that cassettes were totally the way of the future anyway. Six years later, you bought your first CD at A&B Sound a block away as they shuffled the cassettes up to that weird third level beside the Ticketmaster. 

 10. Some dick kid from your elementary school was on Kidstreet with their sister, and bragged incessantly about meeting Kevin Frank and getting to actually touch the prize wall.

~sarah p.

Jams Of The Week (Ain't Easy Edition):

~sarah p.

Saturday, January 09, 2016

Some Musings On 'Forensic Files'.

~Why does every cop, diagnostic expert, and detective on the show look like they need to take a poop really bad all the time?

~I just watched an episode where every suspect questioned in a murder had a mullet. The year was 2007. Try some diversity, Florida.

~After about thirty episodes, three of the convicted murderers had the last name 'Overstreet', so if you ever meet a dude with the same last name, you about-face on the spot and run as fast as your fat little legs will take you. Sorry, that was a note to myself. I'm sure your legs are lovely.

~Here's the thing, crime world. If you stick your dick in something that you have murdered, you are not only a gross guy, but also an easy police target now.
~The whole show is like one big "here's how to get caught murdering someone" manual. After all 80 episodes, you'd be the perfect assailant. Thanks for all of the super smart murders, Forensic Files.

~sarah p.

Jams Of The Week (Goody Goody Rap Edition):

~sarah p.