Llama Love

Llama Love 1

When I was a kid, I lived in a small, rural town.  Actually, “town” is too grand a word for North Gower, Ontario in the 1980s.  Today, with its subdivisions and farmers markets and actual, sit-down restaurants, North Gower is a bona fide village, but in the ’80s when I was a kid, it was a main street with a few shops and a pizza joint, perched on the steps of which you could always find these two old dudes who were collectively known as The Delmers.  I loved growing up there, but bustling metropolis, it was – and still is – not.

Anyhow, the next small, rural town over – a slightly bigger place that had a longer main street, more shops and fewer Delmers – there was a family with a gigantic pet llama that actually lived right on Main Street, and they’d let him out in the front yard to just wander about and scare the crap out of anyone passing on the sidewalk, because suddenly, you know, LLAMA!!!  Small town country life – it’s weird, don’t know what to tell you. 😉

These are fuzzy pink sprinkled llama nails.  Why sprinkles?  Why not sprinkles?!  Isn’t everything better with sprinkles?  A sentiment that’s also a bit weird, and hey look, I still don’t know what to tell you!  Sometimes you’re just in the mood to sport a candy pink llama mani, I guess.

Llama Love 2

Llama Love 3

Of Spikes and Socks

Sunday Spikes 1

So here’s a great example of a manicure that wound up in a very different place than it began.  Initially, I was going to cover that candy sweet pink gradient with a dainty rose print, something very English garden.  Then I got out my black and white polishes and my dotting tool, and next thing you know, I’ve got the colour and design of a pair of knee high socks I owned in high school (in grade 13 when I was living somewhere near the fashion junction of Clueless and your local patchouli-scented skate shop.  Wow, I loved those socks.  Funny thing to say about polka dotted hosiery that was actually fairly unflattering, but I did.) 😉  Then I added some silver spike charms up by my cuticles for maximum snagability (no way I’d wear these charms around my precious socks, bitchin’ – oh hey, El! – though they are.)

Sunday Spikes 2

Talkin’ ‘Bout My Renovations: Part I

To paraphrase one Walter Elias Disney – smart man, done some things, you might be familiar with his work – it all started with a crowbar.

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Okay, to back up a bit, it actually all started with this crowbar last year when I began ripping up the engineered hardwood in our apartment in anticipation of springtime renovations to our home.  We were looking at the total replacement of our bathroom, as well as some small work in the kitchen, a whole mess of painting, and entirely new tile and carpet throughout.  It was going to be a lot of messy work, and like a couple of loons, we were also going to try to live in our apartment while it was being renovated.

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So naturally the very best time to begin tearing up the floor, splinter by agonizing splinter, was eight months out from the start of the work, just to make the intervening time as uncomfortable, awkward and dangerous as humanly possible.  That our lower limbs did not succumb to gangrenous affront is something of a miracle to me, after half a year of wandering around on bare concrete floors with partially exposed, toe-puncturing nailing strips lying in wait.

Reno Collage 2

A month out from the planned start of work I began filling out the approvals paperwork required by our condo board.  Roughly a month later I had the paperwork finished, after jumping through hoop, after hoop, after hoop stipulated by the board.  Some of the hoops were understandable and reasonable – of course we can’t use gravity-assisted toilets in a stack condo, we’d be pissing on our neighbours’ heads.  It has to be a wall-mount unit, duh.  Other hoops were less reasonable – thinking here, of course, of the hideously expensive, ungodly HEAVY and completely unwieldy underlay we had to purchase, the installation of which, in retrospect, is what set the entire job back by about three weeks.

In response to a letter of complaint I sent to our property management firm, the property manager disagreed with my pissed-off assessment that the condo board appears to be made up of a bunch of weekend DIY-ers who have no business approving decisions related to major infrastructure.  She has absolutely no evidence to back up her assertion, but I certainly do – the board-mandated underlay, for instance.  Also the toilet that was board-mandated and approved – I even included printed schematics in my submission! – except when we went to install it, it didn’t fit.  I don’t know how I managed to hold it together, but there’s a boardroom in my building that’s lucky it didn’t have a wall-mounted, low flush porcelain crapper thrown through its window.

Toilet Collage

But to use the underlay as an example, had any one of my neighbours on the board actually taken a good look at the product in question – 10 to 12 millimeter-thick, National Research Council-rated padding to lay under hard flooring types such as ceramic – they would have noted that it was 1) total overkill (are we soundproofing our home or a concert venue?) and 2) a completely inappropriate stipulation given its cost, availability, and general immovability.  Two young, fit guys STRUGGLED to heave those gigantic rolls up to our apartment, and it took another young, fit guy two full, very sweaty days – plus setting time! – to actually install the underlay.  To say nothing of the many, many framing and trim workarounds we had to employ after the fact to accommodate a floor pad that was now more than half an inch higher.

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And while things are beginning to change, the age mix in our building still skews pretty heavily toward folks born in the 1930s and 40s – people in their retirement years on fixed incomes.  I can’t imagine they’d be super pleased to bear the various costs – to their wallets, homes and bodies – of this product that they are being forced to use by a board that has not done its due diligence.  I’ll amend my earlier critique to now call them a bunch of rubber stamp-happy, weekend DIY-ers who have no business approving decisions related to major infrastructure.

And I suspect I am not alone in this assessment, because once the work actually began in earnest, it became quite clear that we were some of the only people adhering to the rules and regulations set forth by the condo board.  Rules and regs regarding the booking of the service elevator, rules and regs regarding the kind of materials we could use in our renos, rules and regs regarding the disposal of construction materials, and rules and regs regarding the behaviour of contractors in and around the building.  Again, some of these stipulations are valid – I’ve got no problem keeping a watchful eye on strangers in the building, even if I invited them in; that’s just good safety policy.  But most of the stipulations were cumbersome and pedantic, like the board was given a 100-point checklist titled Little Ways To Really Piss Off Your Condo Owners, For Fun and Profit!  As such, I think a lot of my fellow residents said, “Oh, sod THIS” and went their own way, without board approval or, more importantly, board oversight.  Because you don’t have to jump through their hoops if they don’t know what you’re doing.

Which led to all manner of sneaky subterfuge happening in the building, and I’m not just talking about the couple I found banging down in the women’s sauna one evening.  Or the naked ladies boogeying to the Dirty Dancing soundtrack in the women’s change room.  Or the guy trying to stuff two thoroughly dead and dried-out Christmas trees down the garbage chute one pre-dawn May morning.  It’s amazing what people try to get away with when they think no one’s looking.  My neighbours are animals.

Change Room of Fear

But animals who apparently know well enough to keep The Condo Man out of their business, which includes co-ed naked sauna-ing, Dirty Dancing and inappropriate disposal methods, yes, but also includes more serious infractions like carrying out their renovations however and with whatever they see fit, without making submission to the board for approval.  Which is a super big piss-off when you’re actually playing by the rules and paying dearly for it.  That ridiculously expensive and cumbersome underlay, for instance?  The guys who installed our carpet and through whom we sourced the underlay – they’re probably the biggest, oldest flooring concern in the city – confirmed that we are some of the only people they have sold it to in our building, where the construction is never-ending and this material has been mandated into use by the board.  And yet we are the ONLY people I saw schlepping this stuff around.  If it’s a required material, why do we seem to be the only residents actually using it?

At the end of it all, I’m glad we stayed on the side of right, even if it cost us time, money and precious, precious sanity.  Plus I now get to be a righteous ass – WE DID THINGS THE CORRECT WAY, SO GTFO.  But there were many, many times when I questioned why we were adhering to the process so strictly, and seeing no immediate benefit in return.

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But really, this entire process was an ordeal, and that was all before ground had even been broken, so to speak (don’t joke; a giant hole in our floor was pretty much the only problem we didn’t have!)  In the next installment of this three-part series, we get down to work on transforming our home and losing our minds.  I hope you’ll come back and join me as I wade a little deeper into this journey – somebody needs to throw me a life preserver when the memories get to be too much. 😉

How to Be a Canadian at Disney

Can Mickey Collage

Happy (nearly completed) Canada Day, peeps!  Can’t stand the day myself – that’s what you get for a young lifetime of stupid Can Day celebrations that soured you on the entirety of the holiday (loved starting to drink terrible beer in my best red-and-white duds at eight in the morning with my friends, hated the inevitable skirmish I’d get into with my boyfriends or friends as we desperately tried to find each other 10 minutes before the fireworks in a sea of drunk(er) revelers on Parliament Hill.  Did anybody check the giant lemon?!)

Although I’ve really no reason to continue hating the holiday, since in the intervening years, I’ve had moderately alright to even not-so-terrible Canada Days and…*tails off remembering somewhat recent year grandmother tricked her into visiting relative at very remote Cabin in the Woods (actually, it’s quite a lovely cabin in the woods, totally free of elaborate death mechanisms designed to appease the pagan gods.)*

It’s basically just a day ending in Y for me, albeit one where I’m infinitely more inclined to sport a fly red-and-white mani in honour of July the 1st.  And this year I gave it a Disney twist to go along with the Canada Day video I made for our YouTube channel, Park or Perish!, which is all about being Canadian at Disney.  Which pretty much amounts to having good manners, having good manners whilst drinking, using words like “whilst” and screwing around at the Canada Pavilion at Epcot.  See for yourself below, eh?, and happiest of Canada Days to you all, my Canuck friends, all two remaining hours of it. 😉

Small last minute edit: Just as I was about to click the Publish button on this post, I heard a smattering of fireworks going off, looked out my livingroom window and was treated to a lovely, impromptu, 10 minute-long fireworks display just across the river.  So maybe not ALL of my Canada Days have been horrid. 🙂

Literary Inspiration: Ready Player One

Ready Player One Collage

Fun fact: I’m a bit of a gamer.  Always have been, actually.  As a kid, I loved playing Q-Bert, Frogger and OG Donkey Kong on my family’s Texas Instruments rig whilst waiting for our gigantic claw-footed bathtub to fill.  Naked (and yes, there is a completely mortifying photo to that effect – a Polaroid, no less – and no, you will never see it!)

As a slightly older kid, I owned every generation of Nintendo and squared off with my friends every chance I could get – the Super Mario Bros. games were favourites, though I’d dabble in Sega titles from time to time.

Super Mario 1

In high school I fell in love with the Donkey Kong Country games to such an extent, I was able to parlay my mad skills into a first place finish in a Kong-centric drinking game during a big, multi-school party.  Yup, I was definitely the “winner” that evening. 😦  And I know I used to drive my best friend absolutely bonkers because I’d play while we were on the phone together, and she totally knew.  Sorry, Sandra!

Then one Saturday morning right toward the end of high school, my dad came home from a local garage sale and tossed me an open NES cartridge, saying, “Here, you like this zombie crap, don’t you?”  The game?  Zombies Ate My Neighbors, a super rare cult classic from Konami that went on to occupy my off-hours attention for the remainder of high school and most of university.  Trust my dad to just wander into purchasing one of the rarest and most beloved zombie games ever released for a buck at a garage sale. 😉

Between the end of university and the beginning of my Life As An Adult (still waiting for that to take hold, by the way) my gaming fields went fallow – access is key, and I didn’t have either of the big consoles at the time, or a PC.  Then I met Mr. Finger Candy and we got so serious so quickly, he MOVED HIS PLAYSTATION INTO MY APARTMENT.  This really warrants all caps, because at the time, this was basically the equivalent of him leaving his penis at my apartment all day long – that’s how important that PS2 was to him (also one of the ways I knew how very serious he was about our relationship, because he was willing to entrust his most beloved possession to his new girlfriend and her roommate, who played the CRAP out of it – particularly the badass snowboarding game, SSX – every chance they could get.)

PS Nails

Then a couple of years after we got married, Mr. Finger Candy introduced me to the Sims.  And the next four months are largely unaccounted for (beyond knowing that I spent nearly every second of them in the guest bedroom crafting a glorious desert trailer park filled with pirates and carnies and ill-tempered ex-celebrities.)  I haven’t played with that level of intensity since (and that’s probably a good thing; the Sims is, shall we say, demanding of one’s time) but I’ll still dabble from time to time.

The Sims

I was for a time also completely obsessed with this totally messed up American McGee game called Alice: Madness Returns.  It was an utterly beautiful game, and the visuals were just incredible, but yeesh, what a mindf**k.  I adored it, and indeed, I launched this very blog with some of those working-way-beyond-my-comfort-level designs.

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And my husband is a pretty hardcore gamer, clanning up online with a bunch of buddies to run around and kill virtual things every weekend, be they rogue military factions, zombies or rogue military zombie factions.

The Division Hand

So still lots of gaming in my life, then, now and probably always, so it’s a no brainer that I was drawn to 2018’s Ready Player One, a Spielberg-directed Amblin throwback of gigantic nerd proportions inspired by the 2011 novel of the same name by Ernest Cline.  I adored the movie – spunky kids saving the world from fantasy-based destruction! a giant melee fight scene scored to Twisted Sister’s We’re Not Gonna Take It! and an incredible mash-up of about 200 competing video game, movie and TV titles, including The Iron Giant, Halo, Pikachu, DC Comics, Overwatch, Back to the Future, Gundam, Jurassic Park, Hello freakin’ Kitty, and an absolutely incredible scene set within the world of The Shining that’s worth the price of admission alone.  I loved it.

I loved the novel, which I read in service of my friends’ reading challenge for the second theme of “You saw the movie but didn’t read the book…now read the book,” ever so slightly less, simply because it was so intensely detailed and relentless in its references to tech and nerd culture, I found it hard to map the overall story.  It was a really enjoyable read – fun, lively, and with so many delightful little nods to the games and movies that have shaped my life – but I could also never quite shake the feeling that I was sitting an exam on 400-level nerd culture for which I had not studied, and I was about to fail HARD.  This is one of those books that probably requires a second read-through just to pick up the smaller details you may have missed the first time around.

Ready Player One 2

Barring one or two deviations, the movie and the novel tell the same story: It’s the year 2044, and everything sucks.  Humanity’s just given up on trying to solve its unsolvable problems and has retreated into an online mecca known as the OASIS, an unending virtual playground where you can do or be anything you wish.  In Columbus, Ohio, a poor young man by the name of Wade Watts has spent the past five years trying to solve a puzzle left in the OASIS by its late creator, James Halliday.  And Watts is far from the only Gunter (egg hunter) hard at work on cracking the puzzle, because the player who finds Halliday’s easter egg will assume total operational and financial control of the OASIS, a property estimated to be worth nearly two trillion dollars.  With that amount of money and power on the line, the hunt for Halliday’s easter egg lures in more than just the Gunters, with the world’s less morality-minded organizations lining up to lay their claim to the egg.  IOI, or Innovative Online Industries, an outfit that sells medically questionable allotments of ad space AND correctional services, is at the head of those companies, devoting nearly the entirety of their significant operational budget to the search for the egg through any means necessary.

When both the book and the movie open, Wade and a few friends have cracked the first clue, with IOI nipping close at their heels.  And the rest of the book follows this back-and-forth between the independent and corporate forces as they try to assume control of the OASIS for their own ends, peppered with about nine bajillion references to popular culture, technology and hardcore geekery.  There’s also a bit of romance in there.

Where the book and the movie really deviate is in tone, with the movie striking that perfect Spielbergian note of sassy childlike wonder – bad guys are trying to trying to take something good and make it bad, let’s stop them! – while the book went for something much darker.  In the movie, Wade’s parents are dead, victims, he insinuates, of a harsh world ill-suited for good people.  But in the book, you find out that Wade’s parents, paying no heed to their duties as caretakers, destroyed their family and died badly, Wade’s mom overdosing and his father dying during a failed looting attempt.  In the same vein, the IOI of the movie is almost quaint in its forgotten era bad guy tactics, with the book IOI just straight up throwing people off balconies.  But apart from the darker content, the book is just missing that sense of innocent wonder that made the movie such an appealing adaptation in the first place.

Ready Player One 1

But I really liked Ready Player One, sped through it like a beast in about three days, nitpicky little details notwithstanding.  I like these nails I did, inspired by DOS lettering, a lot less.  This is what happens when you refuse to use nail art stuff like striping tape that might make a design that needs to look precise look a lot more precise than it does.  Which is not one bit!  Egads, would you look at that S?!  On second thought, don’t look too closely at it – that thing is atrocious.  This is definitely one for the redo pile, perhaps the next time I reread Ready Player One.

Down, But Not Out

Snacks Collage

Goodest of mornings, friends, from the Reno Zone, population: still my husband and I!  But against all odds, we had a lovely long weekend – thanks in large part to the great, Fishbowl-enhanced time we had at the wedding of a couple of old friends (I’ve known the bride since grade 6!) – so despite the fact that everything is still quite torn up (you try navigating a floor full of ceramic tile clips at 3 am, especially if you’ve been drinking something called a Fishbowl!) we’re feeling slightly more optimistic about the renovations.  There’s even been appreciable progress made on the bathroom, and at the risk of jinxing things further (but really, could we get more jinxed?) we may have a semi-functioning bathroom by the end of the day.  Yup, totally jinxed it!

Cheryl's Wedding

But I haven’t been so out of it that I haven’t had a bit of time to work on another Fave Food of Disney video for our YouTube channel, Park or Perish! – need something to occupy my time whilst tiled into my livingroom for the next five to seven hours of adhesive-setting time (I now know far too much about ceramic tile adhesive and underlay materials – wasn’t exactly an area I felt I needed a lot of edu-ma-cating in, but I suppose it’s always nice to learn something new.)

And so here’s the five-minute result of all that time-wiling!  As always, I hope you enjoy this video and don’t become too fixated on some Disney nibble that’s only available at the Magic Kingdom for Five Days in May – that’s a Blue Rodeo joke, and one of my favourite songs – because that’s totally Disney’s jam.  But these snacks are available all the time, so, you know, just a hop, skip and a jump down to central Florida, no big. 😉  Thank you – always – for watching!

Bedlam

For all intents and purposes, this is a nail blog, but observant observers may have noticed that Finger Candy has been most bereft of actual nail art for quite some time now.  And that’s in part because I’m currently mired in a renovation hell of my own making that I’m beginning to think I may never emerge from?  What was to be a one-week job has now sprawled out into its third week, and our second full week of no plumbing.  Having (regrettably) lived with renovation-like activities for my entire life, I knew things were not going to proceed exactly as planned and to schedule, but I’m starting to feel quite twitchy about how long this has dragged out.  Maybe I’m just worn down by REPEATED eyefuls of my naked neighbours in the bathroom change room, which I visit on average about 10 times a day.  In their defence, that is what one does in a change room – get changed, which does require a temporary state of nudity.  The key word there, however, is TEMPORARY, so I really don’t get these broads that strut around with their everything out in the breeze, gabbing with their friends, washing their unmentionables in the single sink (WE HAVE LAUNDRY FACILITIES, YOU CHEAP OLD FREAKS, HERE’S A LOONIE FOR THE WASH SO YOU CAN REMOVE YOUR GUNGY OLD GIRDLE FROM THE SPOT WHERE I’M TRYING TO BRUSH MY TEETH) or maybe chatting me up in the mirror while I attempt not to look at anything with too much specificity.  I’m (Joker) smiling in this picture, but that’s just because my brain has broken and I’m two seconds from being hauled off to Arkham Asylum.

Change Room of Fear

And while I’ve already discussed the neighbours I walked in on the other evening boning in the sauna (did I mention that?  Well, they were, and I did, and I’m now horribly traumatized) I shall never speak a word about the bathroom-encompassing biohazard that greeted me at the beginning of the week, and which I think has been the deciding factor in us coming to the conclusion that when these renos are done, we’re moving.  Our neighbours are disgusting friggin’ savages, and I’ve got zippo desire to continue tying our financial futures to these animals.  I don’t even want to share a common wall with them.

Anyhow, while I was ripping out the floor, I tore off every single one of my nails on my good hand, so I’ve been living a nail art-less existence, as has this blog.  But until I return to my adventures in acetone, I thought maybe I’d lay out how this reno process has been not going for us, so if you’re contemplating any major renovations of your own, I can thoroughly dissuade you.  Please learn from my mistakes and frustrations – some good has to come of this.

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First, the major obstacle to these renovations (new bathroom and flooring throughout) has been the fact that we live in a condo apartment.  For those of you who may not be familiar with how condos work, they’re essentially buildings or communities in which you purchase a stake, said stake being your unit.  This is really no different than purchasing a home, and indeed, we own our apartment just like you own your house.  But we also have a financial responsibility to the community or the building as a whole for things like landscaping, maintenance and building management, and we pay for a portion of those items through monthly condo fees.  This is essentially what a person with a single family home would spend every month on maintaining their property.  That’s utter bullshit, of course – our condo fees are gigantic, and I highly doubt you spend nearly $900 every month on maintaining your home, because while your teenagers might be kinda gross and perhaps not the most respectful of your space, they’re not 2,000 disgusting stranger neighbours (“You haven’t met my teenage son,” you may be saying.  Fair enough!)

So owing to the quasi-communal nature of our living arrangements and the fact that financially, we’re really all in this together, there’s a lot of oversight to living in a condo.  As in the condo board will be up your ass every second of the day, as will your neighbours, who apparently don’t mind midnight sex parties in the sauna, but will rip your head off and rat you out to the board if you so much as allow the pizza delivery dude through the front door as opposed to the SERVICE ENTRANCE (yes, we have a service entrance, like we’re effin’ slave-owners over here.)

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More specifically to this renovation, we’ve had to jump through some Cirque du Soleil-level hoops to get everything from the work, to the materials, to the actual tradespeople themselves approved.  And we have jumped through their hoops, pushing the work back by about two weeks while we sought out all the necessary approvals.  But now that everyone in the building seemingly knows our business (news travels fast in a biddy-based building, let me tell you) I feel like we’re under the microscope.  Everyone’s watching us for that moment when we break the nit-picky rules and regulations (and it’s happening; the restrictions are cumbersome.)  Like, are you really giving me shit about the tilers lugging their stuff up in a non-service elevator when I can’t book the service elevator in the first place AND someone has turned the women’s room into an abattoir?  One of these things is not like the other.  So if you live in a condo and you’re contemplating renovations, first give some thought to the reasonableness of the condo board and its (your) policies.  Because while I’m in full agreement with any rules and regulations that make life easier for my neighbours, my neighbours are not extending me the same courtesy, and trying to renovate around that simply may not be worth it.

But if you’re mental like us and you’ve decided to jump in with both feet, the best piece of advice I’ve got for you is to split up the job(s).  We quite hopefully – naively – thought that the best way to approach this was to blitz it, which means our home has been completely torn up for three weeks now.  We have the use of the sink in our kitchen, but our appliances are unplugged and sitting out in the diningroom, and our bathroom currently looks like Bosnia.  All of our possessions are sitting in boxes on our balconies and any elevated surfaces I can find, and everything is filthy all the time.  We are camping in our own home, and this campsite is a nightmare.  Please gaze upon the state of my diningroom right this very moment:

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There’s just too much planned work going on in too small a space, and we’re tripping all over ourselves.  So while it may be tempting to say, “Yes, let’s get this done as quickly and efficiently as possible,” those are two descriptors that generally don’t apply to renos, so save yourself the hassle and break it up.

But really, at the end of the day?  Maybe just, you know, DON’T.  I was visiting with a friend the other day who’s contemplating some pretty major renovations to her house, and I do believe my tales of woe scared the living crap out of her.  She really likes her house and it’s a good fit for her family, but given the extent of the proposed work, I’d recommend that they just move.  But I’m ready to move to an entirely different solar system at this point, so (frustrated) grain of salt, yeah?

So in conclusion, class, what we learned today is that if you live in a condo and you’re contemplating renovations, your best bet is to take all your money, light it on fire and then slingshot yourself into the sun.  Problem solved. 😉  See you on the other side (of my sanity), peeps.