Everyone’s doing it


Hey, want to listen to two friends debate (read: argue) the merits of two movies? Yes? Then I have good news! My friend Colleen and I have started a podcast. You can download our first episode here, or check out the “Podcast: Love this movie, hate this film” page where I’ll post them as they’re completed.

Love this movie, hate this film #1 (30 MB) Topic: Thelma and Louise vs. Mona Lisa Smile

Thanks for listening!

P.S. Constructive feedback only, please. It’s our first time!

I hate them, too.


[Edited later: If you can’t tell by the relatively high number of comments on this post, I got featured in the Freshly Pressed section of the WordPress homepage and I’m rather proud to say I received about 7,000 hits over about two days.

One of the great parts about that was all the feedback I got about this post, including one comment from Robin Esrock from Word Travels, who promoted my post on his Facebook page and Twitter. Check out his comment below, where he says travel writing isn’t always the dream job people think it is, and you’ll also find a link to his site.

After reading all the comments, I just want to add that, realistically, being a travel writer probably isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. You’re always on the road, it’s a lot of hard work coordinating with different people in different countries all the time, and sometimes the locations are pretty remote. Even so, I’d probably choose that over data entry.]

If I were to rank the best jobs in the world, it would probably go something like this: Ian Somerhalder’s personal masseuse, roller coaster tester and then travel writer (or TV host). But until I can make all, or any one, of these a reality, I will have to be satisfied with reruns of The Vampire Diaries, trips to amusement parks and watching luckier bastards than me travel the world for the living. And in the meantime, I’ll watch my three favourite travel shows for pointers while I boil with envy.

Word Travels
Currently in its third season on OLN and CityTV (and Nat Geo Adventure internationally)
Hosted by Robin Esrock and Julia Dimon

This is a Canadian show that follows two travel writers as they, well, travel and write. It’s an interesting take on the traditional travel show, as it’s just as much about their personal experiences looking for stories and piecing together columns and articles as it is about the places they visit. Plus, having one writer – Robin – focus on the extreme side of traveling (like snowboarding down sand dunes in Dubai) and having another – Julia – write about the quirky, cultural side of travel (like training to be a gladiator in Rome) makes for a great diversity of content.

I also like reading about how the hosts of travel shows got those jobs. Robin, who’s based in Vancouver, used to work in music and marketing, but after being struck down by a car while on his bike he got a sweet $20,000 settlement and decided to run off and travel the world for a year. He wrote a column and a travel blog about it, and the rest is history. Julia, meanwhile, started her career writing a movie column for the Toronto Star at the age of 12 (yes, 12!) and after six years transitioned to travel writing. Someone needs to explain to me how she managed to get that gig.

Currently in its third season on OLN and CityTV
Hosted by Scott Wilson and Justin Lukach

Another Canadian production, Departures was initially supposed to follow two friends – Scott and Justin – as they leave their regular lives behind and travel around the world for a year. Luckily for them, the show was successful enough to extend their travels and they’re currently in their third season. The best part of this show is that neither of the hosts are experts in any sense of the word. At the risk of sounding patronizing, Scott and Justin are regular guys who interact with the places and people they meet from the same inquisitive perspective as their audience. Plus, they tend to shy away from the touristy, Travel + Leisure side of travel and stick to the less beaten paths. They even spent a whole episode on Ascension Island, a tiny island in the middle of the South Atlantic that hardly anyone has heard of. (Plus, they’re really cute.)

The show’s website doesn’t fully explain how the guys managed to secure this gig, but Scott has a film background (he met the camera dude Andre while in film school) and when they came up with the idea for Departures, he called up his old high school friend Justin and a show was born!

Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations
Currently in its fifth season on the Discovery Channel in Canada (the Travel Channel and the Discovery Travel & Living channel in the States)
Hosted by Anthony Bourdain

This American show highlights one of the best – if not the best – parts of traveling: food. Not only is food one of the foremost expressions of a culture, but it’s also something everyone can enjoy and it differs in very interesting and revealing ways from one place to another. The great part about this particular show is that Anthony brings an enormously likable persona and infectious love for food to every dish and beachside tavern. He’s also a bit grumpy and has a bit of disdain for vegetarians, but that’s all part of the charm. His knowledge of food and international travel makes him a hugely entertaining guide.

Anthony has a culinary background and jump started his life as a famous writer and television personality by writing about his life working in restaurants “good, bad and horrible” in his book Kitchen Confidential. He later combined travel and food in A Cook’s Tour and now he has his own awesome show.

So lost.


I’ve never watched Lost before, but since I felt really left out with the series finale craziness tonight, I decided to watch anyway. Here’s how that went…

9 – 9:07 Very confusing bits and pieces. There’s a doctor, and a guy who I guess used to need a wheelchair.

9:07 Priest named Desmond is orchestrating some kind of hostage situation that involves a fugitive and a corpse. I think he’s part of a crossover with Touched by an Angel.

9:08 I think the girl escaped to an island. Good for her. But everyone seems to have emotional baggage. Jacob seems to have been born again, or something. Or something.

9:09 A mission! To destroy a magical leprechaun in the Heart of the Island. Fun banter. Ominous close-up. Credits. Commercials!

9:14 Another hostage situation with a confused fugitive. If he’s driving a Hummer he must be a bad guy. Hey! It’s either Merry or Pippen! And he’s… goth. I think the big curly-haired guy is another Angel. A very badass Angel with a tranquilizer gun.

9:16 I think someone should be tending to that girl’s wounds. I can see the blood and I think her arm is broken. Where are their priorities?

9:17 Aragorn is captured. He calls the bald guy “Smokey.” Is he the Smoke Monster I keep hearing about?

9:18 I think one camp likes the Island. And the bald-headed guy wants to destroy it. I guess I’m rooting for the Island to stay put.

9:19 More characters! I don’t recognize these people from EW. They seem nice, though.

9:20 The T.V. screen goes crazy. I’m scared.

9:21 Ha, the kidnapping priest Desmond is now the hostage. How the tables have turned. Commercials!

9:26 I think the little guy in the back with the walkie-talkie is going to betray the bald guy.

9:27 Gah! More characters to keep track of…

9:28 Of course the black smoke is evil. I thought we were post-racial. Wait, there’s another island?

9:29 Now it’s a CSI-type thriller, possibly in the past, or future, or alternate sideways universe. With bedside drama and the FBI agent from V!

9:30 Japanese lady is having déjà vu for two. 😦 They’ve had some tragic love story. I’d watch that movie.

9:31 Hey! They speak English… Liars, trying to make that nice doctor look stupid. Commercials!

9:35 Boromir is running away to join Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli.

9:36 More hospitals. I thought this was supposed to set on an island.

9:38 These guys are being pretty dramatic about a grey hair.

9:39 Another plane crash with new survivors? Or is the pilot an original survivor? How long has he been floating in that water?

9:40 Damn. She really hates that bald-headed guy. Where did that gun come from? This is probably how she ended up in jail in the first place.

9:41 Okay, I’m dropping the LotR metaphor now. Commercials!

9:45 Aw, they call each other “doctor”, like “honey” or “sweetie.” Gag.

9:46 Oooh, Desmond is a weapon. I’m intrigued. Although, why doesn’t Desmond just run away? The bald guy only has a little knife. Also, Jake is going to kill the guy whose spine he fixed? Is that irony?

9:47 “I believe in you, dude.” Gag. I thought he was supposed to be badass. Where’s his tranquilizer gun?

9:48 So confused.

9:49 I guess that little waterfall is a wormhole or something. Cool. Commercials!

9:53 “You can’t let other people decide who you are, dude. You have to decide that for yourself.” Gag.

9:55 Syed to the rescue! Like Batman. Another love story… but inter-racial this time. So, do all these people have amnesia or something? Yay! Ian Somerhalder. I know him from The Vampire Diaries.

9:56 Another angry chick with a gun. Named Claire, apparently.

9:58 Desmond keeps talking about going towards the light. Does that mean what I think it means?

9:59 So confused.

10:04 Ohhhh, Claire is the pregnant sister. I’m getting’ it, I’m gettin’ it…

10:05 Angry chick reunion at a benefit concert with a very mismatched band.

10:07 The place at the bottom of that waterfall looks very mystical. No! Don’t step in the water! You’ll wake up the water zombies! Wait, no, that’s Harry Potter…

10:09 What the hell just happened? Did he pull out the stopper in some mystical drain to Hell? Uh oh…

10:10 Wow, Jake cannot take a punch. Commercials!

10:15 Damn, this show has everything. An impromptu birth backstage at a concert! Wow…

10:16 Damn, more déjà vu.

10:17 Oh, for heaven’s sake. Fastest delivery ever. Did she even cut the umbilical cord?

10:19 ANOTHER love story.

10:20 I can’t tell which one is the “real” world…

10:21 Earthquake! And panic music! And rain! It’s like someone is shaking the giant snow globe they’re all in.

10:22 Why didn’t they repair that plane five seasons ago? Locke probably stopped them. He’s super evil.

10:23 Showdown!… and commercials…

10:27 Gasp!

10:28 Gasp!

10:29 “What happened to your neck?” Oooooh, the worlds are bleeding into each other. So, is this going to be awkward when Locke wakes up?

10:32 All these moments where people are remembering their Island selves (I’m assuming…) are very touching. I’ve never even seen the things they’re remembering, but I’m so moved. Also, Jack is definitely going to be the last to remember. Loser. Commercials!

10:36 Where did those ladders on the side of the cliff come from?

10:38 All you need to fix a plane is duck tape. Noted.

10:39 Hmmm… maybe if you have that déjà vu experience in the sideways universe, you are free from the Island in the… uh, Island universe?

10:40 What is their attachment to the Island??? Gawd, learn to let go, guys.

10:41 They’re kissing each other goodbye, probably forever, and I’m just thinking about how uncomfortable it must be to be wearing wet jeans on a tropical island. Commercials!

10:46 Ha! See? Duck tape.

10:48 “Maybe you should read the machine its rights.” lol I’m going to remember that trick the next time a vending machine eats my money.

10:49 I feel a happy ending coming on. Uh, not that kind of happy ending. Commercials!

10:57 Somebody always has to be the suicidal hero.

10:58 “The Island needs you”? Is this like Little Shop of Horrors?

10:59 Ewww, don’t drink that dirty water. Magical dirty water.

11:02 How did she swim with what appears to be a broken arm?

11:03 Yay! Claire is going with them! No loose ends! I wonder where her kid is…

11:05 Yes, now put the phallus back in the hole and everything will be alright.

11:06 Free! Free at last! I hope they have enough gas to get… anywhere.

11:08 Jeez. Jack looks like he’s lost his mind. Commercials!

11:13 So is Ben going to just live out in that courtyard? Work out his issues?

11:16 Aw, Hugo is so sad. He’s got big shoes to fill… I’m assuming. Rise to the occasion, Hugo! Aw, he gave Ben exactly what he needed.

11:18 Everyone who’s had their memories restored seems so Zen. I guess Jack has the most emotional baggage.

11:21 Aw, it’s a little multi-faith chapel. How P.C.

11:22 Oh, snap. Someone lost the corpse. Oh, wait, not exactly… “Jack, I am your father.”

11:24 *tear* I guess dying can’t be easy… So, I guess the Island is, like, transitional therapy for newly dead people?

11:26 Wait, wait, no, the Island was real, and this sideways place is a place they made up to find each other… in death? Or, afterlife?

11:29 I still don’t get it. But at least everyone looks happy. Puppy!

11:30 To the blogs!

Lives of Others


“Comparison, more than reality, makes men happy or wretched.” – Thomas Fuller

I assume I’m not the only one who thinks about where I “should” be at a certain age. In a steady job by 25, married by 30, taking kids to preschool by 35, etc. etc… And I also assume I’m not the only who compares myself to other people to either a) feel better about my situation ’cause they’re even further “behind” or b) feel discouraged/motivated because they’re further “ahead” than I am. My sister recently admitted to me that she’s constantly trying to guess the ages of strangers, particularly mothers, for that exact reason.

Even though the rational part of my brain understands that this is a silly thing to do, I can’t help but indulge myself every so often. Lately, I’ve found myself Wikipedia-ing the lives of famous writers and political activists. Hey, if Jack Kerouac didn’t finish writing On the Road until he was 29, that gives me almost 5 years to catch up…

Jack Kerouac (1922-1969)

Best known for: On the Road, finished writing it in 1951 at the age of 29, published in 1957 at 35
Zodiac sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Lowell, Massachusetts
Academic background: Had a football scholarship at Columbia University, dropped out after injury; given a posthumous Doctor of Letters from University of Massachusetts
Work history: sports reporter, construction worker, joined the marines and the navy, wrote steadily but didn’t publish until On the Road made him famous
Marriage and children: Two ex-wives (first at age 22, second at age 29), one daughter
Worth noting: Problems with depression, alchohol and drug abuse; also honorably discharged from the military for “psychiatric” problems
Death: Died at the age of 47 due to an internal hemorrhage as a result of cirrhosis caused by a lifetime of heavy drinking

Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi (1869-1948)

Best known for: Fighting discrimination against Indians in South Africa, starting more or less in 1893 at the age of 24, and leading India to independence from 1915 to 1945 (ages 46 to 76) through nonviolent civil disobedience.
Zodiac sign: Libra
Birthplace: Gujarat, India
Academic background: Went to law school in London, England around the age of 19
Work history: Worked as a lacklustre lawyer, which is what brought him to South Africa and started his whole political activism thing
Marriage and children: Had an arranged marriage at the age of 13 to Kasturbai Makhanji (14). Had 4 sons, the first at the age of 18ish
Worth noting: Was awesome.
Death: Assassinated at the age of 79. 😦

Mary Shelley (1797-1851)

Best known for: Frankenstein, published in 1818 at the age of 21 (started writing it when she was 18)
Zodiac sign: Virgo
Birthplace: London, England
Academic background: No formal education, but highly educated by her father and tutors
Work history: Full-time writer
Marriage and children: Married Percy B. Shelley when she was 19, had 3 children though only 1 survived
Worth noting: Had an affair (and a baby) with Percy until his wife committed suicide, after which they got married
Death: Illness likely caused by a brain tumour at the age of 53

Nelson Mandela (1918-)

Best known for: South Africa’s first black president elected by a fully democratic election, and badass anti-apartheid activist. He was inaugurated at the age of 76.
Zodiac sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Umtata, South Africa
Academic background: Earned his B.A. though correspondence and earned his law degree from the University of London while in prison.
Work history: Had a scattered political career, spent 27 years in prison for being a badass activist
Marriage and children: Married three times, at the ages of 26, 40 and 80. Had six children.
Worth nothing: Won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993 (shared with another guy) at the age of 75.
Death: Don’t be morbid.

Kurt Vonnegut (1922-2007)

Best known for: Cat’s Cradle (1963), Slaughterhouse-Five (1969), Breakfast of Champions (1973), but he published his first novel Player Piano at the age of 30 in 1952
Zodiac sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Indianapolis, Indiana
Academic background: Studied chemistry and mechanical engineering, did graduate studies in anthropology (Cat’s Cradle was accepted as his thesis)
Work history: Served in WW2, worked as a reporter (briefly for Sports Illustrated and did PR for General Electric), managed a car dealership
Marriage and children: Married for the first time around 1945 (age 23), the second time around 1979 (age 57), raised 3 children from his first marriage, adopted 3 of his nieces and nephews after his sister died of cancer and adopted a 7th with his second wife
Worth noting: Attempted suicide in 1984
Death: Brain injuries sustained during a fall in his home at the age of 85

J.K. Rowling (1965-)

Best known for: Harry Potter series, first of which was published in 1997 at the age of 32
Zodiac sign: Leo
Birthplace: Gloucestershire, England
Academic background: BA in French and Classics. Has a bunch of honorary degrees.
Work history: Worked as a researcher and bilingual secretary for Amnesty International, taught English in Portugal, studied for her postgraduate certificate of education while on welfare
Marriage and children: First married at the age of 27, and again at the age of 36. Has 3 kids, the first born when she was 28.
Worth noting: Suffered from depression. Came up with dementors during this time.
Death: 😦

Just a few things I thought were interesting: Both Kerouac and Vonnegut were born in 1922. Both On the Road and The Catcher in the Rye were published in 1951. Almost everyone lost family members early on in their lives, and kind of stumbled into their biggest successes. They all have different Zodiac signs.

(SOMEONE better get something out of this post, ’cause it took for-e-ver.)