is what you, dear reader, must be suffering from. I’m suffering from not writing in it, so we’re even.
I wrote a good entry last Friday about lunch at the Office of Technology Transfer and my original business idea (no I didn’t disclose it) that they seemed to like. I must have accidentlally deleted it or something. Ah well. Suffice it to say that as a humanities scholar, I never thought I’d get to talk to the people in the Office of Technology Transfer, but that it turns out they’re pretty cool.
This weekend we got to see Kinsey, which turned out to be another one of those Hollywood “great man” movies. It had its moments but was overall underwhelming. It does make me want to read a biography of him to get the real dirt. Interesting note: if I’m not mistaken, my parents had original copies of the two major Kinsey studies on their bookshelf. But I might be mixing that up with all the original Modern Library volumes they have. Anyway, despite the mediocre movie, the company was good — our friend Hajime, whom we hadn’t seen in ages — and we discovered a very Montreal wine bar called Pullman. We even had good wine there, which seems like a trick in this town what with the SAQ strike and all.
Another “I know I’m in Canada” moment. Today, I’m talking with Susana, one of the departmental secretaries. Susana is pregnant and due to go on maternity leave soon. So I was asking her about it and they get 1-2 YEARS of maternity leave in Quebec. Granted, it’s not all at 100% pay, but compared with friends’ maternity leaves that are measured in days or weeks, I was amazed. She could tell too because my jaw had obviously hit the floor of the copy room and she said something understated like “oh, right, it’s not like that in American.” Add another cool point for Canada.
Right now, I am listening to Codeine, which is slow and epic, much like the work I must get done tomorrow. In the meantime, the PVR calls with 24.
I think I’ve mentioned my childlike fascination with the metro here before. The trains are blue, the wheels are round, the orange line plays a major chord on the way out of the station, etc.
Anyway, the other day on the way to school, I listened to Quebec Connection’s Bonjour Expo (thanks Will!) on the way in and was struck by just how perfect the music was for the Metro. There’s a certain optimism to their music — which is only fitting for a concept album about Expo ’67. But I also really liked the anachronism of the moment.
–Ingredient One: a very quotidian transport technology that most Montrealer probably find unremarkable, which once held some kind of high modern futuristic promise
–Ingredient Two: A musical celebration of the moment in which the technology was seen as utopian.
–Ingredient Three: “Vintage” 1980s synthesizer sounds, themselves now examples of a decayed, dusty old futurism, used to celebrate a futurism that had itself fallen into disrepair by the 1980s.
Clear? Good. Time to watch CSI on the PVR.
Although there are a number of films we both want to see, times were off last night given when we got to dinner, Carrie and I decided we’d do a little quid-pro-quo on movie night and go see something she wanted to see (and then something I wanted to see another time). For some reason, we wound up going to Closer, which she’d wanted to see, as opposed to several others that she was hot to see that I was lukewarm on. I think this may have been my fault for thinking that Closer would be arty while that boxing movie would be another “characters grow while they triumph over inbcredible odds” flick like Sea Biscuit. All I can say is if Closer is about art, then to hell with art.
What a terrible mistake. What a terrible movie — full of terrible characters involved in a terrible story. And the soundtrack was so whiny to boot.
Really, I cannot possibly encapsulate how terrible this movie was in the space of a blog entry. I think it’s supposed to be an exploration of relationships or something, but it combined incredible predictability with almost sanctimonious self-satisfaction that it is revealing some inner “truth” of human nature.
Carrie didn’t like it much either. I asked her whether, if she met a version of herself on the street who had not yet seen the movie, she would advise herself to go see it. She said she would warn herself that it was totally brutal.
The real bummer of it all was that Wednesday is a new institution in our domicile: MOVIE NITE (best to leave out the “gh”). We both finish teaching on Wednesdays, so we catch dinner and get a movie. This was in part because we got tired of complaining all fall about how we never got to see any movies that we wanted to see. We’re still way behind, but at least we’re trying to catch up.
Note to Montreal readers: feel free to inquire about joining us on MOVIE NITE. It is not a couple thing.
Like there’s any point to having “category” in front of my posts here. It’ll be gone when the fabled last days of the site revision come.
Four hours over two nights was very intense, and we’re talking about the most intense show on television. Once again, we learn that
a) torture is okay except (maybe) when it’s the child of a US government official
b) conservatives are tough guys (like the secretary of defense — clearly a republican)
c) liberals are wimps, especially the secretary’s son, whose “Michael Moore” politics are largely youthful rebellion
d) intelligent African American women might be dangerous
e) it’s okay to hold up a convenience store if you’re tracking the guy inside and need to wait until they can get a satellite feed up on him
..and so on. Okay, so the politics stink and the show is utterly unbelievable (especially in its 4th season) and yet it is by far the most effective hour of television in the prime time schedule. It is the only show that makes me physically tense. And for that, I am strangely grateful.
Absolutely beautiful, and who would have expected it?
I would say that the two most difficult aspects of moving from the U.S. to Canada have been institutional:
1. Getting US institutions to mail things to a Canadian address is surprisingly difficult. Related to this is the fact that US bills arrive sometimes after their due dates, and only some US institutions accept checks from Canadian banks, even when those banks issue checks in U.S. currency. All but one of our U.S. credit card companies are among the worst offenders in both categories. Another time, I’ll rant about the address thing, because it reveals a lot about a lot of things. But today, we’re onto
2. Getting Canadian credit is also wickedly tough. It turns out the U.S. does this to Canadians who go the other way, so it’s only fair, I guess. Still, I’m going to slap the next person who talks about how national borders don’t matter anymore and capital moves freely.
When we arrived in August, having had credit cards for over a decade, having owned a house for five years, and having earned and borrowed (and paid back all of) a good deal of money over that time, we learned that in Canada we had the credit ratings of 15-year-olds. It would have been impossible to get a mortgage without putting 25% down (though we couldn’t buy anyway since we hadn’t at that time sold our old house) and getting credit cards has been almost impossible. We tried the online application at the bank. No good. We filled out paper applications. No good. Finally, our bank rep actually took about an hour with me entering our information very carefully and practically begging the credit company to look at our U.S. credit histories, asserting various forms of class privilege (“McGill Professors, owned a house” etc.) and so forth — even thoguh we’re not rich. I don’t know what she did, but Friday she called back to say we’d each been approved. Which apparently almost never happens for new arrivals from the U.S. The next option was to get one of those “secured” cards they have for bankrupt people. That would have worked too, but it just seemed wrong.
Part of me hates credit cards. I hate the idea of credit card debt, I hate the way they encourage people — like me! — to live beyond their means. But it’ll just be a lot easier to buy stuff online and pay it off in Canadian dollars.
Anyway, it’s a minor milestone in the quest to become (more) Canadian, and a major convenience. This week, I need to write my high school for a certified copy of my diploma (and send off a bunch of other letters like that) — the next step in applying for permanent residency.
Of course I speak of St. Viateur St. Bagel, which is open 24 hours and makes them fresh whenever we’re in after midnight to pick some up while on the way home from Mile End. Poppy seed is definitely the best option, though plain has its virtues.