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Monthly Archives: April 2013

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By now I think I can safely say that Montréal is out of its deep freeze and my parka can be safely tucked away for another few months. Spring also means that I can look forward to seasonal harvests, which get me excited about all the fresh produce I can use for home cooking. Depending on where you are, green beans may be coming in season, either now in the spring or by the summer. Here in Montréal, my local grocery store was having a sale so I stocked on a bulk buy. Green beans are great frozen so after washing the beans and trimming the ends I froze half away and used the other, fresh half to make a salad for a potluck.

I wanted to bring a dish that had spring written all over it so what is more perfect than a green bean salad? However, I wanted to make sure the recipe was a good one, especially for those who may not be the biggest fan of vegetables.

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Welcome back, wedding season! We missed you. It has been a while. The last wedding I attended was back in October but now that Montréal (and most of Canada) is out of its deep freeze, here we go again.

Most couples may have already finished their last minute touches on their wedding planning, but often at this time the onus of wedding celebration planning now falls on the wedding party. This might mean bridal showers, Jack n Jill-style parties, and of course, bachelor and bachelorette parties need to be planned. So if you are attached to a wedding celebration with traditional aspects and especially if you are part of the wedding party, you are probably scrambling to figure out what on earth to do for your best friend or sibling’s epic night out.

I do understand though that not all bachelor or bachelorette parties are going to be “wild” ending with salacious photos posted on Facebook (yep, that is going to happen). I know this as someone who has not only attended quite a few bachelorette parties — and a handful of bachelor parties — but also as one of the planners of these events on multiple occasions. Sometimes your friend wants to have a in-night of drinking and card games, others go the moderate route of a bar hopping sans any naughty behaviour, and others want…well, this is when those incriminating photos might come into play. It is important to figure out exactly what kind of party you would like to plan first, which often means that you should straight up ask your soon-to-be hitched buddy what they are comfortable with.

And if you are living in central or eastern Canada, or an American wanting to an alternative to Las Vegas and Atlantic City, you may be heading to this lovely city of Montréal for your party weekend. And I will spell it out why this often is the case: the strip clubs, legal drinking age of 18, great gastronomy, bring-your-own-wine restaurants, and the exotic nature of the Québécois/European culture in North America. Specifically regarding the strip clubs: full-contact (above the belt) dances are legal. And there are options for both men and women in the city.

I personally am not a fan of strip clubs but I do recognize that this happens often in bachelor and bachelorette parties. But minus the sexually liberal culture of Montréal, there are still many great things about the city that makes it a great party town. Not to mention that very good looking men and women swarm the city. And in Montréal unlike the rest of the province, you can get away with speaking English for the most parts of town and services, though it is definite a bonus if you are able to at least read French (some of the restaurant menus come in French only).

So because I have been living in this great town for a few years now, I always receive a few queries about bachelor/bachelorette party planning. I even planned one in the city last year, so I thought flashbracket could offer some useful tips, especially for non-locals. I figure this blog post will be much better than some seedy or cheesy bachelor party planning information out on the Net.

This will be a series of posts since I will be covering specific queries such as restaurants for dinner, brunch restaurants, bars and clubs, and hotels. I definitely cannot plan all elements of the party for you but I can give some pointers of some good places to visit in the city and some events to consider.

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The Knife’s fourth studio album, Shaking the Habitual, came out on last week and it is the Swedish duo’s first album since 2006. I have yet to listen to the new album but I did see the music video (which is really a short film running in at ten minutes) for their first single, Full of Fire. Watching the video reminded me of the reasons why I love both the music that The Knife churns out every few years as well as the group themselves: The Knife exemplifies the true artist, penning social and political themes in their music, and producing inquisitive and experimental music videos. Not all of their music is an easy listen but they do produce fun and catchy hits, such as Girls’ Night Out and Heartbeats, both from 2003’s Deep Cuts.

The video above is for NY Hotel from The Knife’s previous album, The Knife, and was the only single from the album. The song and video is short, running at less than three minutes, and the aesthetic is sparse, based on a cartoon of simple line drawings. The viewer observes a couple spending their last day together which ends with one watching out the window while her lover walks away. The simplicity of the visuals makes the message so much more powerful; it is hard not to be moved and feel sadness for the couple. Interestingly the video is not available on YouTube but is available on Vimeo only. Click above to watch the video, directed by Andreas Nilsson and Andreas Korsár.

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It took me a day and a bit to digest all the information concerning the Boston Marathon bombings. During the last 30 hours or so, I read various news sources to keep up with the streaming and constantly updating information. There has been so much information from so many news sources, often with conflicting reports, especially during the first few hours of the explosion. And accordingly so much has changed since I first received the New York Times News Alert on my cell phone about the non-verified reports of two explosions at the popular race.

I was studying at a café here in Montréal when I received the news alert, which prompted me to check my Twitter feed and see the incoming tweets regarding Boston. I definitely did not realize the magnitude of the situation — obviously anyone outside of the immediate aftermath could not at first — and I went on with my books and sipping on much needed coffee. Then, more information became uploaded to news sites and photos were posted. I, with the rest of the world, began to realize the severity of the situation and was horrified to see images of the carnage, some appropriately flagged as graphic content. The pictures of severely injured spectators, many missing limbs, became seared in my head and I had much trouble focusing on my tasks at hand.

A café patron sitting next to me eventually received news of the explosions, and began to chat with me about the situation. The café we were sitting in was mainly quiet, most of us having hauled laptops and books to the neighbourhood outlet, and plugged into our respective ear phones. My seat neighbour dropped his pen and paper, and sat clicking away at various news sites for the rest of his stay. When he was leaving, he said to me, “They found the person who did it. He apparently is in custody.” I cocked my head and said, “Really? I was just checking the news and did not read anything about this.”

I was constantly reading updates on the Boston situation, mainly relying on The New York Times, which put down their pay wall for articles regarding the tragedy for the day, as well as Slate and The Atlantic. There had been one news item that I had read which indicated that “a person of interest” had been spoken to by police at a hospital, and that his apartment had been searched. However, other than that bit piece of information, not much was said about any real suspects. Later, I found out that the New York Post had been maintaining that the “person of interest”, a Saudi student, was a suspect and with reports that he was tackled when seen running away from the explosion. (Um, perhaps because there was an explosion?) The New York Post continued this angle of the foreign student being a possible suspect despite The New York Times, The Boston Globe, Slate, and other news outlets having dismissed the reports. It was only around 3 pm today that the New York Post tweeted that the student was no longer a suspect. A suspect to the bombings has still yet to be identified.

Meanwhile, the Internet has decided that the event is a conspiracy and even planned, with a video juxtaposing two different parts of an episode of The Family Guy to illustrate the conspiracy on YouTube. The episode in question was edited so that it seemed that Peter was using his cell phone to set off bombs at the marathon, causing Fox to pull the episode from the Internet and Seth MacFarlane denying any connection. Gun-loving right-wing person, Alex Jones, is also claiming that this is a government conspiracy.

Additionally, there were reports that another explosion, this time at the John F. Kennedy Library, occurred a few blocks away from the marathon’s sites of bombing. While the two events were first suggested to be related, this was later rebutted by The Boston Police Department who confirmed it was a fire, not an explosion. Furthermore, reports that the government had shut down phone networks was also proven to be false. The problems in connectivity that many people were experiencing following the attacks were later attributed to overloaded local cell towers.

This all made me think about how hard it is to receive accurate and unbiased information, especially during times of crisis. First incoming reports regarding a tragedy may be subject to error — when emotions are high and the dust has literally yet to settle. Keep in mind that the news is coming from reporters, whom are human, whom are prone to failures. At such situations, it is also so easy to jump to conclusions and rely on our prejudices (a Brown man running away from the scene? Stop him!) when we try to make sense of a horrific situation. I am not excusing anyone for racial profiling but I am trying to understand the situation in context of an American culture that still bears the marks of the events and politics surrounding of 9/11.

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Songza Concierge

Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival in Indio, California, is on day two of three for Weekend One, and I am assuming that if you are reading this you are not there.

I definitely am not, but instead weathered the storm of snow and freezing rain all day yesterday here in Montréal. (That is right. We had a snow storm in April.) Misery loves company so what is the best way to take part in Coachella when you are not there? Through Songza, of course.

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Have you seen this?

The video is a few days old and is an instalment of the Ask a Grown Man series from Rookie Magazine. You know, the online teen girl magazine founded by Tavi Gevinson, the fashion blogger extraordinaire, who is also editor-in-chief? Rookie Magazine, like Tavi, is both smart and wise, and populated with illustrations, videos, and other submissions from staff and readers, as well as the adorable Ask a Grown Man advice series that features various celebrities answering reader submitted questions regarding their love lives. Jimmy Fallon, Judd Apatow, and Jon Hamm have all participated.

So the video above features Thom Yorke and Nigel Godrich of Atoms for Peace (Nigel also produces the work of Thom’s main band, Radiohead). Here, you can watch Thom and Nigel give some sound and practical advice for readers ages fourteen to nineteen on questions such as how to identify whether you like a boy, anxieties about body image, and being too shy to speak to your crush. They share personal wisdom in their answers and the result is great and sound advice for viewers of any age. Even us grown ups.