Archive | October, 2011

Last-Minute Halloween Costume Ideas

31 Oct

Happy Halloween! If you’re like many of us, you haven’t put much thought into your costume this year. Now that October 31 is here, you’re scrambling but can’t bear the thought of venturing to one of those crazy Halloween stores or braving Value Village. Fear not, little ghouls and goblins! We have tons of costume ideas for you using everyday household items that can be thrown together in minutes.

This year there are lots of famous faces that can make quick and easy costumes. If you happen to be a female with long hair of the brown variety, Kate Middleton is as easy as it gets. Put on a tailored dress (and a trench coat if it’s chilly) and some ladylike pumps. Use a curling iron to add some waves to your hair. Voila! Bonus points if you have a Prince William lookalike to trail around with you.

The Man Vs. Food guy is another super easy costume. All you need is a huge plate of food – wings, pizza, nachos, whatever. Carry it around and shove handfuls of food into your face at frequent intervals. Occasionally groan. An added perk: you’ll be too full to eat the leftover candy at the end of the night.

If you’re a lady who happens to have leggings and booties in your closet, Kim Kardashian is an easy choice. You’ll want an obnoxiously large engagement ring but you can make your own with balled-up tin foil and a twist tie. Obviously this works better if you have long black hair, but if so, it’s a pretty simple look to pull together.

There are plenty of classic costume ideas that are quick, easy, and cheap:

Hobo: Wear a tuque and an old coat. Draw on a beard. You could also push a shopping cart around, but we recommend digging one out of a ravine that’s already been trashed rather than making off with a new one from Micmac Mall.

Cat: Black sweater, leggings, headband with construction paper ears, and eyeliner nose and whiskers.

Skeleton: Wear all black and apply masking tape “bones” to your body.

Most Extreme Elimination Challenge contestant: Shorts, t-shirt, bike helmet, knee pads/elbow pads.

Pig in a Blanket: Cut out a pig snout from an egg carton and draw two nostrils on it. Tie it around your face. Wrap up in a blanket.

50’s Couple: A suit and tie for him, a dress and apron for her. You can embellish it by carrying a rolling pin, cookbook, etc. I don’t know what 50’s men carried around. Booze? The newspaper?

YouTube sensations make great Halloween costumes (remember the Bed Intruder last year?) This year we have Rebecca Black! Program “Friday” into your cell phone. Set the alarm to go off at 10 minute intervals. Lip-sync poorly while trying to maintain a brave smile. Act confused when it’s time to get in the car to go anywhere (“which seat should I take?”) Done!

There are also some Halifax-centric costumes you could try. If you own a black hoodie and a baseball bat, you’re a swarmer. Or cut out a big oval shape out of cardboard and cover it in tin foil. You are the Oval! If you’re going out with friends, they can wear winter coats, mitts, hats, and carry skates. Easy group costumes FTW!

Now that your costume is ready to go, get out there and fill those pillowcases!

Weeping Wednesday – Thursday Edition:The Track Meet

27 Oct

I don’t claim to be athletic. In fact I claim nothing of the sort. My childhood recreational activities included ballet classes and horseback riding – not exactly classified as hard-core sports. Did they require childhood poise? Not really – but let’s pretend for my sake they did.

When I moved to Nova Scotia at the ripe age of 10, I figured I needed to find a way to make friends. What better way I thought, than join to join the cross country team? Sure, I was the shortest kid in my class and had no idea if I could run three blocks, let alone three kilometres, but I knew if I could get my name on the announcements for scoring a sweet blue ribbon I would have more friends than I could shake a stick at.

Little did I know pretty much everyone and their dog joined the cross country team that year. Likely because of a girl whose milkshake brought all the boys to the yard. Not only was she super sporty and beautiful, but she could run like the wind and had about a foot on me.

Meet after meet my collection of second place ribbons continued to grow – but I knew that as long as Little Miss Long Legs was around I would never hear my name attached with first place on the morning announcements. Lucky for me this blonde stallion had the immune system of a small child – that might be overstating it, but a case of tonsillitis took my archrival out of the competition just long enough for me to shine.

I’ll never forget that day at the track meet. My parents proudly waiting on the field – inhalers in hand just in case their little ballerina / horse aficionado were to pass out mid-run. Things started off really well. I had a great pace going and I could feel that I was ahead of all the piddly little fourth graders. As I went through various turns I could tell that I was getting close to the end – taking a quick glance back I knew I was set to take home the glorious blue ribbon. And then it all fell apart.

One wrong turn had me feeling like a million bucks – no other runners were in sight and the crowd was going wild. The celebration in my mind started early and I could already picture how proudly the school secretary would be announcing my name the next day. The next thing I noticed was the faces of my parents. Then I realized they were shouting “wrong way” not “yay”!! My slight misstep had me down the wrong path on the final stretch of the race. I sprinted as quickly as humanly possible  to get back on track – and I thought I would make it, but just as I approached the finish line, some Z-list runner bypassed me and dashed her way through.

They say winning isn’t everything – but when you’re the wrong way runner, second place is only the first loser.

Halifax Pop – lessons learned

25 Oct

Today’s post is courtesy of our friends at Halifax Hype (@halifaxhype) – special thanks to @MarthaGallagher

the main lesson I learned from the Halifax Pop Explosion is that if you’re doing it right, you’re going to end up very, very tired.

So I think we clearly did it right. Because Monday is really giving me a run for my money.

Let’s rewind back to Friday night, where I last left you.

Friday night lesson? Library Voices are no longer for quiet times.
Out of all of the great things HPX was offering, I was most excited for the Library Voices. I’ve been a fan of this Regina-based band for a while now, so the chance to see them at the Seahorse, one of my favourite venues in Halifax, was really something else. After some great support from glory glory, honheehonhee and Graham Wright and the Good Times Band, Library Voices took the stage.

And the definitely took it. An electric performance that including hanging from the rafters, group claps, and table dancing, these guys proved they really are one of the best things to come from the Canadian Prairies. This was hands down in my top three favourite shows from the entire festival.

Saturday Lesson – It’s worth it to go early.
On Saturday I got to double dip in Halifax Pop Explosion goodness, taking in the Stars show in the afternoon and Rural Alberta Advantage in the evening. The biggest take away from this day is figure out your schedule, and get to the venue early.

Thanks to the Occupy NS movement, the Stars show was indoors – greatly cutting down on the numbers of those able to see the band in action. Luckily, after the Dan Mangan debacle that was Thursday night, my concert-going partner and I had the foresight to get to the venue nice and early, allowing us to get good seats and check out Carmen Townsend and Plants and Animals before Stars came on.

Stars was huge for me – I’ve seen them before, but they’re one of my all time favourite bands so I was pleased as punch to see them again. They didn’t disappoint, and in fact, played a three song acoustic set in the parking lot for those who couldn’t get in. Class act.

Saturday night was my shot at redemption for St Matthew’s. I went early, waiting in line with other keeners, to ensure I got to see Rural Alberta Advantage. Totally worth it to wait in line for an extra hour in order to experience all of the group hand claps, and an amazing acoustic closer that had the band singing to a completely silent audience. It was magic.

Although I may be deliriously overtired, I know it’s not the lack of sleep talking when I extend my sincerest congratulations to the festival organizers for a job well done. I’ve never been to a festival that has ran more smoothly, or with a more effective volunteer team than HPX. During the run of the festival I saw 15 bands, the majority of which I’d never seen live before, and honestly didn’t think would ever come to Halifax. My only question is – how are they going to outdo themselves next year for the 20th anniversary of the fest? I cannot wait to find out.

Things are still popping – Dan Mangan, Racoon Bandit, Dennis Ellsworth & The Haunted Hearts

21 Oct

Today’s post is a two-parter because, due to complications, this kid didn’t get in to see Dan Mangan. So enjoy part one from Joel, who is clever and did get to see Dan.


Brief note to groupies:
If you’re going to sing obnoxiously loud, please know the words to the song (not just the last two words in each line, sung moments after the musician), and be able to fucking sing.

Thursday night at St. Matthew’s Church was phenomenal. The girlfriend and I arrived fairly early, but the place was already quite packed. We took a seat in the last row, and settled in to hear The Daredevil Christopher Wright‘s set. So far, these dudes are the hidden gem of Pop Explosion for me. They might be super famous, I don’t know, but they were new to me. They had fantastic lyrics, great (sincere-feeling) banter with the crowd, and incredible voices. I’ll definitely be checking out the rest of their stuff.

The Daredevil Christopher Wright

Following them were The Crackling, whose members are all from Dan Mangan’s band. They were quite good, but honestly not my favourite
thing ever. They’re obviously all fabulously talented, but I found myself just hoping their set would wrap up.

Then, of course, was Dan. There’s little else that needs to be said apart from the note that starts my post, and this: I saw Dan Mangan
sing “Robots” in the middle of a church full of people singing along with him.

He sang without a mic, standing on pews in the centre of the church.The whole band came out into the crowd, even the stand-up bass. It was just Dan, his band, the crowd, and the fucking groupies behind us (howling like abandoned weirdo hipster puppies), singing our hearts out to an amazing tune.

St. Matthew’s was the perfect venue for all these guys. We had an amazing time.

Pop Explosion rocks!


Time for part two:

After facing rejection at the Dan Mangan show, I headed down to the Carleton to check out  Racoon Bandit and Dennis Ellsworth & the Haunted Hearts. Both bands hail from PEI and both are fantastic. Racoon Bandit played a great set, and had the crowd’s attention. They have a great folk rock vibe and played a few of my favorites so I was very pleased. Fraser McCallum played the first few numbers with an acuoustic guitar and it really added a great sound to their set.

Then it was time for Dennis Ellsworth & the Haunted Hearts to take the stage. I have been a big fan of Dennis’ since his days in the Rude Mechanicals. He has a great voice, and fantastic stage presence. I had not seen him live with the Haunted Hearts until last night and I was not disappointed. It was a great night of music at the Carleton, great atmosphere and just wanted I needed to end a hectic Thursday.

Halifax Pop Explosion – The Rich Aucoin CD Release Party at St. Matthew’s Church

20 Oct

So here’s what you do… you take basically every musical act Nova Scotia has ever known, you bring them together on stage in a cool old church, and you get magnetic and mesmerizing Haligonian Rich Aucoin to lead them in an orchestral interactive sing-along of epic proportions.

Yeah. That’s what you do if you want to put on one of the best shows Halifax Pop Explosion has ever seen. And that’s what Rich Aucoin did on Wednesday night at St. Matthew’s Church.

The crowd got warmed up by several songs from friends of Rich Aucoin – from songs that have (and I quote)  “only been performed once for my roommate and her cat” to an amazing rendition of Eye of the Tiger from  Jenn Grant (accompanied on the piano by her new husband Daniel Ledwell) the opening songs got the fans ready to go, knowing that each of these performers would also be partaking in Rich’s rockin’ set.

Bright lights and church pews

Rich started by teaching the crowd the choruses to the songs in a repeat-after-me fashion, charming the pants off every person in the room – male or female – when he remarked “You guys are amazing. Were you all in choir in school? I just want to listen to you guys all night.” Truth be told, I bet a lot of us probably were in choir at some point – but everyone was anxious and excited to hear Rich’s latest release played start to finish.

When he launched in to his music, supported by a group of no less than 80 musicians, fans were instantly on their feet – dancing, clapping, booty-shaking, and singing along to the words many of us had just learned. With songs like A.L.i.V.E. and Push, Rich’s long-awaited album was definitely one to move to.

Scanning the crowd on stage was like looking at an all-star selection of Nova Scotia’s finest musicians. Along with the previously mentioned and reliably wonderful Jenn Grant, I was also able to identify members of the Mellotones, In-Flight-Safety, and Soho Ghetto. There was a strings section, multiple drum sets, horns, keyboards, a full blown choir, and a sitar player (because no show is complete without a sitar player), all playing together in perfect hipster harmony to Rich’s infectious beats. After an hour of non-stop energy, the set came to a close and every single audience member walked away sweaty and smiling from one of the best musical experiences Halifax has served up in ages. Ships start here, and apparently so does kick-ass musical talent.

Rich Aucoin giving the crowd a religious experience at St. Matthew's

First night of Pop Explosion! Pepper Rabbit and Ohbijou

20 Oct

Halifax Pop Explosion is finally here. We headed down to Reflections Cabaret Tuesday night to take in Pepper Rabbit and Ohbijou.

I’d like to pause for a moment, though, to discuss Reflections during Happy Hour: Like me, you may have only been to Reflections late, late at night, having missed the happy hour that ends at 1:00 am. You should be aware, then, that between 10:00 pm and 1:00 am the prices are straight up fantastic (we’re talking $3.25 for domestic bottles, and $2.75 for well shots).

We arrived in time for the beginning of Pepper Rabbit. After a hilariously long soundcheck, they started in, playing what seemed like a wonderful fusion of Wolf Parade and My Morning Jacket. It was my first time hearing them, so maybe my assessment is way off, but I quite liked what I heard. I’m really happy with this find so far, and I’ll definitely be checking out more of their stuff.

My only real negative about their set was that they were wearing jackets the whole time. It was roughly a million degrees in there, so it was surprisingly distracting to be imagining just how grotesquely hot they must have been.

After they wrapped up, we waited through another lengthy soundcheck (there seemed to be a series of miscommunications between the band and the guy on the board), and Ohbijou took the stage.

I was already a  little familiar with them, and they didn’t disappoint. They couple vocals with really, really great music (I love bands with violins or other stringed instruments).

Pop Explosion is off to a great start, so we’re pumped to check out more shows during the week. Stay tuned here, as we’re going to have posts up every day (we hope!).

January Jones – I don’t care who the Daddy is. No wait, yes I do.

19 Oct

I love Mad Men. Love, love, love it. Ergo, I love celebrity gossip that relates to the cast of Mad Men. Sadly, most of them are relatively uncontroversial… most, but not the lovely January Jones. Much like her character, Betty Draper, January Jones (aka Cadence from American Pie 3) is prone to drama and sets tongues wagging.

January’s new baby, Xander Dane Jones, recently made his public debut. He as been a hot topic since early in January’s pregnancy because no one actually knows who the baby’s Daddy is. And she’s not talking – she left the father’s name blank on the birth certificate. Several names have been thrown around but no one can say for sure just who provided the other half of little Xander Dane’s DNA. Luckily for you, at, we are nothing if not Internet Super Sleuths. So here’s some investigative journalism at it’s finest.*

Here’s a recent pic of Xander with his Momma. Cute huh?

What a cute little nugget!

But who could the Daddy be? Here are the front-runners:

1) Ashton Kutcher – The internet has been buzzing with rumours that Ashton may be the Daddy (fueling the fire for the Ashton/Demi split). The two used to date when January got to Hollywood, so there’s a “history” there. I suppose it’s possible, given Ashton’s penchant for blonde women who are not his wife, but I don’t know… I think this one might be a stretch. Ashton is just so angular, and the baby – not so much.

2) James Marsden – Before Ashton’s name got thrown in the ring, people were pointing fingers at James Marsden, January’s co-star in the latest X-Men movie. It could  be an explanation for James and his wife filing for divorce, but it’s a tough call. Although… how many baby names start with the letter X? Perhaps this is an homage to the movie set on which little Xander’s parents had their first rendez-vous? If little baby X has both Jones and Marsden DNA, that’s not such a bad hand to be dealt in the genetics department.

3) Jason Sudeikis – Jason and January were actually a couple, and according to reports they split up in January (wow that’s a lot of capital Js in one line), so the timing could work given Xander’s mid-September birth. This looks like the safest bet to me, but when asked about January’s pregnancy in May, Jason seemed legitimately confused and stunned. However, we must take in to consideration that the man is a professional actor, and secret Daddy of a Hollywood baby may be the role of a lifetime for him.

4) Matt Vaughn – Who? I had to look this one up. Matt Vaughn was the director of X-Men. Apparently he and January had an irregularly close relationship. This is further complicated by the fact that Mr. Vaughn’s wife is in fact super model Claudia Schiffer (aka – the woman who was once brilliantly cast as a Claudia Schiffer look-alike in the movie Love Actually). I don’t see a major similarity between Matt and Baby Xander, other than their equally sparse manes, but Mr. Vaughn has vehemently denied that he is the father of the baby. He doth protest too much, methinks.

Will we ever find out who the daddy is? Part of me really admires January Jones for taking on a this huge challenge on her own and sticking to her guns, but a BIG part of my just wants to know! So what are you thoughts? Could one of these guys be Xander’s Daddy?

* For the purposes of this post, “investigative journalism” involves spending a lot of time reading gossip sites. You have your methods, we have ours.