Well Well Well…

My belly has officially crossed the “boob boundary line”–meaning IT sticks out more than THEM. So I officially can’t hide it anymore, I’m hardcore preggers.

June 4th is our big ultrasound date, where we find out, as my good friend Leah puts it, “whether we’re having a hotdog or hamburger”. Really, we’ll be happy with either, but I know deep down Chris is hoping for that wee little girl. We’ll be in deep doo-doo for sure with her, but if everyone could, out of solidarity for dear Christopher, send some “girlie” vibes our way, that would be nice. He does deserve it for putting up with me.

Memorial weekend was busy but nice. Chris got inked a bit more (more work on the neverending Nightmare leg sleeve–he got Lock, Shock and Barrel in a tub-it looks awesome!), we visited both sets of parents and got lots of belly touching. My sister came down from NJ and we got to spend time with the nephews, which was heaven. They are SO cute. Can’t believe Jeremy will be turning 2 in a week! He is so funny, copying everything everyone says.

We also did some planting in our miniscule flower garden. I hope we’ll have a little bit of rain tonight to tend to it!

Montreal Weekend= we heart this place!

After hearing that Ministry was performing their final tour, and that they would be performing in Montreal, Chris and I decided to take the trek up there and spend a lovely long weekend in our new favorite city.
Here are a few reasons we decided to make the trip to Montreal:

1. It is only a four hour drive for us, and it’s a chance to say we went out of the country!

2. With the crappy weakness of the dollar against the euro, it’s unlikely we’ll get to travel to Europe anytime soon. Montreal gives you a little taste of Europe and a chance to practice French for a lot cheaper!

3. Ministry was playing their FINAL tour, and Chris always wanted to see them.

We arrived in Montreal Friday night and stayed at the Hotel St.-Denis, an excellent choice for both location and price. An entire long weekend’s stay, right in the heart of the city, in a nice, BIG room was less than 200 U.S. dollars (try finding a price like THAT in NYC for even one night!!). It was in the ultra-hip, modern Latin Quarter, right down the street from a million great restaurants and venues, as well as the largest metro station from which all trains ran from (less than half a block from our hotel). The venue at which we were seeing Ministry was half a block away too!
There was nothing skeevy about the hotel, and included in the price was free breakfast at a lovely cafe next door every morning. Instead of the usual stale danish continental breakfast fare, we got to eat yummy eggs benedict, cafe au lait and yogurt parfaits.

We discovered some neat, inexpensive places such as the CineRoboteque. The cineroboteque is a cinema run by the national film board of canada, featuring hundreds of independent films in every genre imaginable. Films ranged from 3 minutes to 3 hours long (most of them under 10 minutes), and you could purchase units of viewing time (at the cheap price 3 dollars per hour, 1 dollar for kids), and view as many films as you wanted in that alloted time. They gave you 15 minutes free viewing time on your first visit, enough to watch a couple short independent films for nothing. The theater was set up as a giant room with several “viewing stations” that seated 2 people at a time. You sat in big comfy chairs that had speakers in the ears, and you could move the speakers close to your ears so you could listen in peace without hearing other people’s films. You purchased units of time up front and they’d set up a viewing station for you. You’d enter a code and from a screen you’d view a robot selecting your choice and loading it into the system. You could view any film in English or French; we saw some really cute animated ones!

We discovered a wonderful vegetarian restaurant right around the corner from the cinema. It was a vegetarian buffet with everything imaginable, ALL organic and ALL stuff we could eat! It didn’t look like your typical scary buffet either, it was clean and classy. We were in heaven, and we liked it so much that we ate there twice over the weekend.

It came as a surprise to us that, for a relatively big city, Montreal really didn’t have much of a city attitude. In the time that we were there, most people smiled at us and made eye contact. On a crowded street, no one shoved each other to get by. On the metro, we witnessed people offering their seats for the elderly or people with children. We remained guarded as when traveling any city, but really we were surprised by the friendliness and warmth of most people. I tried to practice my french as much as possible, but whenever I ran into a roadblock, the person I was speaking to almost always politely offered to speak in English instead to help.
Even the Starbucks staff in Montreal was friendly, no arrogance or impatience!
Even at a crowded and noisy metal concert like Ministry, people excused themselves when passing by each other, chatted amicably with strangers and even gently picked fallen comrades up if they fell in the moshpit.
What is it about Montreal that does this to a person?? And why can’t we borrow some of this attitude in the states? No place is perfect, but Montreal sure seemed a step ahead attitude-wise.

On Saturday morning it was raining something awful, and we read about a place called the Biodome , which sounded like the perfect place to spend a rainy afternoon.
The Biodome is an amazing infrastructure that houses wild animals (particularly enangered species), and tries to closely mimic their habitat. There are several ‘climates’ that you can walk through in the Biodome, ranging from rainforest to Polar. It was incredible to see the animals in such an open setting–wild birds flew overhead us and we spotted marmosets climbing trees. There were all kinds of fascinating things to see, from wild plants and bugs, to fruit bats, anacondas and swimming otters.
It looked like a great place to take kids, as there was a ton of activities centered for young ones, with a focus on environmental awareness. The proceeds from admission go to maintaining the sanctuary.
The Biodome was definitely an awesome way to spend a rainy afternoon.

Later that evening we grabbed a quick dinner and headed to the Metropolis to see Ministry. Chris offered to do a writeup about the concert, so he will add that later. All in all it was a wild time and the venue was great. The best part was only having to walk a half a block back to our hotel after the show!
The scariest thing we came across was finding that the streets were flooded with riot police before the show. We wondered why? but then we found out that the Stanley Cup playoffs were happening, and the riot police were stationed at every bar downtown, because if it’s one thing Canadians can go crazy over, it’s their hockey!
They are so die-hard about their hockey that at the Ministry concert, a television played the playoff in between the sets.
We were terrified that we would be in the midst of a massacre, but we were glad to find the streets calm and quiet on our walk home–even though Canada lost!!

Sunday morning, the streets were quiet and rainy (not to mention COLD!). After breakfast we checked out and grabbed coffee and a croissant at an amazing bakery that specializes in food from Lyon, France called “La Brioche Lyonnaise”. It truly was a little taste of Lyon and it brought back memories.

Then we bid a fond “au revior” to Quebec. On the way home we stopped by to visit some good friends who live in the Burlington area–it was great to see them and to catch up.

All in all it was a wonderful weekend, even if the weather didn’t cooperate!

In other news, i’m starting to get a real belly. We’ll be posting pics of our weekend up soon, and you’ll see!

Dan Deacon Delirium

This past Thursday night we went to one of the most bizarre concerts we have ever been too–AND one of the most fun.
If you’ve never before heard of Dan Deacon, read on, brothas and sistas…

I first discovered Dan Deacon in the Pitchfork top 100 albums of the year review–he was hailed as the most unusual but deserving candidate for the top 10 spot, and his music was described as “experimental electronica that would border on chintzy if it weren’t so expertly put together…Dan Deacon is a spreader of silly joy….”

So I decided to give his album a listen on Yahoo. I had no idea what to think at first. Then I wanted to stop listening and call the editors of Pitchfork to tell them they were crazy. The first song was a continuous loop of Woody Woodpecker set to video-game like background noise. It was kind of maddening… The songs that followed sounded as bizarre as their titles, “Silly Hat vs. Eagle Hat”, “Pizza Horse”, and “Snake Mistakes”. Who was this guy, and what was he thinking?

But, the more I listened, a funny thing happened…the more I LIKED it. The more I couldn’t get it out of my head! The more the silliness grew on me and I thought those Pitchfork folks just might be right, that this music is an unusual work of genius. So I found myself becoming a fan. I told Chris to listen to the album, and at first HE thought I was crazy…but then HE couldn’t stop listening to it either! In fact, he listened to it more than I did!

So when we heard that Dan Deacon was performing at Pearl Street, we felt we just had to go and meet this mysterious man behind the weird music.

In person, Dan looked even weirder than his music. He was the epitome of geek, with giant spectacles that covered half his face. He was chubby, balding and wore an ensemble that looked like he swiped it off the Salvation Army clearance rack–rolled up sweatpants, neon socks and all. But he had an endearing quality to him; there was no hint of pretentiousness about him, despite the cult following he had and his underground electronica fame. He mingled with the crowd during both opening acts, shook hands and made jokes. He ordered beer-and had to pay for it-at the bar like everyone else. He even used the sketchy bathroom that everyone else used. In fact, some people didn’t even seem to know who he was. He apologized profusely after bumping into a girl who obviously had no idea it was him.
He just was a giant, nerdy teddy bear you wanted to squeeze.

The first opener, Eric Hnatow, was a Noho native who had impressive energy. His music sounded as catchy and offbeat as a Super Mario brothers game. He got a little weird with his wild dancing at the end, but overall he was fun and got the crowd going.

Speaking of the crowd–quite possibly the best part of going to a Dan Deacon show was the people watching. People were doing every kind of crazy dance you could imagine, particularly this one young kid we nicknamed “Chicken guy”, and his aptly-named partner “Senor Rubber Legs”. There was all kinds of crazy dress too: a guy wearing a superman shirt, a giant red cowboy hat and blue spandex pants; a guy with a giant curly sue wig on, and a guy dressed in head-to-toe plaid, with a paperboy hat and some impressive mutton chops.

The second act was Future Islands, whom we weren’t really impressed with, so we won’t waste time talking about them.

When it was Dan’s turn to take the stage, he wheeled out this little homemade cart of his electronic gear, covered with colored duct tape. He spent a good amount of time setting up-amongst the crowd and not above us on stage, which was suprising. He even mounted a giant green glow-in the dark skull on his table. All the while he was setting up, he blasted Salt and Pepa’s “Shoop” over the speakers and danced like a dog rubbing up against a cactus (his own description of his dancing, not ours).

The show that was to follow was an hour and a half of sheer silliness and fun. For as many concerts as we have been too, we’ve never seen such collective energy from any crowd (even with Bjork!!!). It was suprising and it made us see just how much of a cult following Dan really had.

He played an amazing, fun set and got everyone involved. He even staged a “dance off” between opposite sides of the room (the rules were you had to look your opponent in the eye and dance the craziest dance you’ve ever danced, all while keeping a straight face and not chickening out if you’re picked to go next). Later on, he had everyone in the room do a “sassy love train” kind of dance around the room. No one could stop laughing. He entertained us with jokes about himself and funny anecdotes and rants in between songs.

He ended his set with a 12 minute long ditty called “Wham City” whose lyrics involve a bear who starts a band with other animals and who sings about sharks and castles and swords”–it made NO sense at all but it was a fun finale.

Overall the energy that he set off was infectious, and his lovable geek-hero demeanor made us love him even more.

Yup, as crazy as it sounds we’ve become one of those fans, and we’d definitely go see him again if he comes back to the area.