Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Ill Communication

Want to hear about one of the stupidest things that Crown and I have ever done?


Every year before the Oscars I throw myself into a panic trying to see as many nominated films as possible. Usually it’s because, ever the degenerate gambler, I want to win the pool. I should note that regardless of how many of the nominated films I see, I’ve never, ever won the bloody pool. What can I say? I vote with my heart and my heart firmly believes that Waiting for Guffman should have won for Best Picture in 1996. Come on! It should at least have been nominated, and if it had been, I’d have picked it in the pool.

Anyhoo, Oscar night approaches, I’ve seen very few of the movies this year, and so this weekend I caved and got Crown to illegally download a couple in a desperate attempt to catch up. We saw Little Miss Sunshine. Very cute, but Best Picture? A little extreme if you ask me. That probably means it will win, I suggest you put your money on it.

The second movie that I had him download was Babel. I haven’t been very excited to see this movie, despite the fact that it has Brad in it. I mean, seriously? What’s the point of casting Brad Pitt in your movie if you’re going to have him looking all busted like that? I love Brad, it’s no secret, but it ain’t because of his super-fine skills as a dramatic actor, you know what I’m sayin’?

Regardless, Babel is nominated for five awards, including Best Picture of the Year, Best Director, Original Screenplay, so I figured I should check it out. Crown and I snuggled into bed on Monday night to watch our pirated version on the Mac and guess what? We got struck down by the anti-piracy karma Gods.

That’s right. About 10 minutes into the film, we are both watching intently and trying to keep an open mind about that fact that we have NO IDEA what the hell is going on because the entire film so far has not been in English. I asked Crown, “Don’t you think there should be subtitles?” To which he answered, sounding very academic indeed, “I think the point is that we can’t understand the actual language, but we can understand the universal language of humanity,” or something smart like that.

So we continued to watch.

The thing about Babel though? Three quarters of the bloody movie is in foreign languages. Japanese, Spanish, Arabic, even sign language… we couldn’t understand a bloody thing! Several times I commented that, “I’m pretty sure this is meant to have subtitles,” and each time we justified it away with (what we considered to be) hyper-intellectual film-talk, like:

“It’s definitely a comment on our shared experience as human-beings.”

“You don’t need to understand what they are saying. You just need to watch closely and read their expressions and body language.”

“The whole point is that the message is lost in translation. They are encouraging you to think.”

And my personal favourite,

“Man this is the shittiest, most boring piece of crap movie that I’ve ever seen. How in the ass did this get nominated for Best Picture!? When is it going to end?”

To which Crown responded,

“Babe, it’s only been on for 25 minutes.”

And so we continued to watch. I can honestly say there were two full, and likely critical, story lines that I had absolutely no idea what in the hell was going on, even though I tried my best to “read the body language” and the physical reactions of the actors. We came up with several utterly ridiculous attempts at deciphering what was going on, some of them were almost convincing. When the movie finally ended we both kind of looked at each other and said, “I think that was meant to have subtitles”.

And of course, as we found out quickly the next day, the fucking movie is meant to have subtitles. Huge losers. Huge. Serves us right for stealing.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Back in the Saddle Again

Riding Lesson Recap: Learnings from week 2

1. I have a new love in my life. His name is Carter and he's 11 years old, 16hh and 1400 lbs! I've always been a sucker for a gelding, especially a dark chocolately brown one, and this guy is as stunning as they come. Although I hope to have the chance to ride all of the horses at the Academy over time, if I get to choose my horse in the future, this guy will be at the top of my list.

2. Seven, the mare from last week was a very gentle ride, a little on the lazy side because she'd been ridden on and off all day. By comparison, Carter, while sweet natured, is frisky and raring to go. He hates to stand still so we spent a lot of time shifting around while our instructor tried to hold my attention and teach me a thing or two. No kicking required to get this guy into a trot. The slightest loosening of the reigns and we were off.

3. I'm dying to canter. My classmate V1, who rode with me this week, lost control of her mount (Honey) for a minute and as a result ended up in a surprise canter. Watching her reminded me how much more comfortable a canter is than a trot, smooth and silky, and the best part? No posting required. My inner thighs were already shaking by this point so a canter would have been a sweet relief. Maybe next week?

4. Horses are a lot like dogs. They are playful and manipulative and will take advantage of you if you let them. Although they are about 20 times his size, these giants are not much different from The Momes. They are creatures of habit and routine is so important that the slightest variation can cause massive distress. They have a pecking order and when they are turned out in the paddock together during the day they will scrap and play just like pooches at the dog park.

5. This week we got to ride freely in the paddock (meaning not on a learning lead) in groups of two. For me it was much easier to have full run of the ring because it allowed me some alone time with Carter, while our instructor was at one end working with V1 and Honey. Without the scrutiny of the instructor, which makes me a little tense because I'm trying so hard to be perfect, I was able to relax and a lot of the stuff I'd learned as a kid really did start to come back. So I take it back, it is sort of like riding a bike. (A big furry bike with feet and teeth).

6. They sell riding gear for a reason. And it's not just because of how hot some people look in breeches and tall boots. Riding breeches have built in leather or suede patches on the inner thighs, calves and bum to prevent rubbing and banging against the saddle and the stirrups. My legs from the knee down are currently covered in bruises from riding in simple work-out pants and Doc Martins. Paddock boots are ankle height and perfect to wear with a pair of half chaps. My Docs would be okay if they were a little more broken in, but because they are so stiff, they rub against my shins when I'm pushing my heels down (a must in English riding), hopefully they will break in quickly. Thank God it's not bare leg season.

Introducing Carter:

Carter and Seven:

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Baby, It's Cold Outside

I know this really makes me look like a bad mom and everything, especially since it's Valentine's Day and I should be showering those closest to me in love and happiness, but I simply couldn't resist torturing the Momes a little bit by dragging him out onto the freshly fallen snow and then having him pose for some fun pictures.

Not sure if I've mentioned how much I personally dislike the winter, but I think it's obvious from these pictures: like mother, like pugger. The Momes really, really hates the winter.

I guess torture is a strong word anyway, I mean, the dog really does have to go outside now and then to use the washroom, regardless of the weather. He doesn't have a choice in that matter. The torture part really just kicked in around the time that I decided to document it for your viewing pleasure.

Notice the classic signs of pug-dismay: tail drooping, ears back, body hunched and quivering. You'll also notice; however, that things improved dramatically once he took off full tilt and ran his little pug-butt all the way home (with me running behind, laughing and snapping pics all the way).

Saturday, February 10, 2007


My favorite number? No.

My favourite Prince song? Well, yes. Yes it is. But still, not the reason for the title of this post.

Rather, Seven is the name of the Belgian-cross mare I rode last night at my very first lesson at the Riding Academy. And I am officially in love. Not just with Seven, although she is magnificent, but with the entire experience. I love the building, the smell of the stables, the adorably frisky dog that lives at the school, the lovely instructors (so pretty, so graceful, so FIT) and the feel of the velvety riding helmet sitting snuggly on my head.

And luckily, after she found out that I had some riding experience under my belt, my instructor offered some helpful words of encouragement as I hoisted myself up onto Seven last night, “It’ll come right back to you, seriously, it’s just like riding a bike.”

Oh, my God. So true.

If by “bike”, you actually “mean giant, powerful animal that could easily toss you half way across the paddock and then trample you to death in a flurry of metal shoes and hooves.”

So for your reading pleasure, here are five things that were decidedly NOT like riding a bike what-so-ever:

  1. Putting a bridle on is scary. Horses have very big teeth and funnily enough don’t really enjoy having a metal bar inserted into their mouths for the purposes of being “steered” by a human being. Can’t imagine why? You actually have to stick your finger into said mouth full of big teeth in order to get said metal bar inserted. Yeah, a little nerve wracking.

  2. Horses are huge. Like really, really big. The smallest horse at the Academy is just over 14hh tall. Her name is Honey and she’s the lucky lady that got to be the training horse for our tacking lesson last night. To give you an idea of how tall 14hh is, when I stand beside her the lowest part of the sway in her back is just around the same level as my neck. I’m 5’9”.

  3. No matter how patient or mild-mannered a horse is, they do not want their feet picked out by five different people at one grooming session.

  4. English saddle is a lot different from Western saddle. Now, I do know the difference and have ridden both styles in my day, but I guess I’d forgotten the part about HOW MUCH HARDER IT IS TO RIDE ENGLISH STYLE. Like seriously a lot of work. After 10 minutes of trotting my abs were cramping up and my inner thighs felt as though they had just burst into red hot flames.

  5. Posting is hard. Posting is the action of bouncing up and down in rhythm with your horse while it’s in a full trot. I know that sounds totally hot and everything, and truthfully it is totally hot. If by “hot”, you mean “a lot of really hard work using muscles that you didn’t know existed in your quads, inner thighs, knees, calves, abs, back and ass.” And did I mention ass?

Introducing Honey:

Introducing Seven: