Thursday, April 30, 2009

wild animal kingdom: cool, bears!


A very big bear. Also the editor's second cousin. Copenhagen, Denmark. (2009).

***
(Cue National Geographic theme music here).

Bears. Clearly, if you've spent any time around here at all, you know that the bear is starfish and waffles' favoured four-legged animal in the kingdom ... the wild animal kingdom!

Let's face facts, people: bears are some kind of awesome. They're cute. They're cuddly. They edit online magazines such as the one you're reading now.

Yet, in spite of the overwhelming opinion for bears, we've never devoted an entire post to species of the ursine kind.

That is, until today.

Last weekend, the editor dispatched me and an associate to the Copenhagen Zoo for a starfish and waffles exclusive investigation - on bears!

I'm pleased to report back that the Danish bears generally seem happy enough, though we'd like to strongly advocate roomier living conditions for the editor's fellow ursine friends ... they sure didn't much space to run about. In addition, we continue to champion the cause of providing more honey for the brown bears and definitely a lot more ice for the polar bears.

While we're filing our recommendations with the good people at the Copenhagen Zoo, please stand by and enjoy a few pictures - of bears!


A polar bear! (No relation to the editor). Copenhagen, Denmark. (2009).


Huggy bear. Copenhagen, Denmark. (2009).


Playful bear. Copenhagen, Denmark. (2009).


Hat bear. Copenhagen, Denmark. (2009).


Happy bear. Copenhagen, Denmark. (2009).


Dancing bears. Copenhagen, Denmark. (2009).


Say "ahhhh" bears. Copenhagen, Denmark. (2009).


Baby bear. Copenhagen, Denmark. (2009).


Annica bear. Copenhagen, Denmark. (2009).

Monday, April 27, 2009

eyepoint


Walking in the forest on a rich carpet of green and flowers. Helsingborg, Sweden. (2009).

I needed to do a lens change, but everything I was carrying left me about three hands short for a two-hand operation. After a delayed moment of indecision, I jettisoned the heavy backpack, dropping it onto a forest floor carpeted lush in spring greenery and dotted white with specks of pretty flowers as far as the eye could see.

She gasped, baby blues wide open while holding both hands over her mouth.

"What?" I asked, clueless.

"The flowers!" she exclaimed in hushed tones, pointing anxiously to my backpack below.

Cute.

"Oh, sorry," I apologized, contrite, quickly picking up my transgression from the ground.

***
Funny how it's the little things that stick out in your mind, making certain people stand out from all of the others. I realize that little things often don't amount to much in the end. But just maybe, in a few of these random glimpses of character - and heart - there really is a significance here ... and just maybe, there's something to be said for that.


A bird's eye view. Helsingborg, Sweden. (2009).


The 100-metre dash. Helsingborg, Sweden. (2009).


Sleepy. Helsingborg, Sweden. (2009).


Dreamy. Helsingborg, Sweden. (2009).


Cartwheels by the sea. Helsingborg, Sweden. (2009).

Sunday, April 19, 2009

the matrix


Annica, caught in the matrix. Västra Hamnen, Malmö, Sweden. (2009).

***
Before she graduated, found a real job, and moved away to Stockholm, my friend Nina Louise and I would talk at great lengths about such diverse topics as food, fun, friends, family, the future ... and a whole multitude of other things that didn't start with the letter "F". An analytical type, Nina Louise would systematically apply a matrix to aid in the comprehension of different issues, as if all of life's questions could be categorized in, and mapped on, an endless grid of squares and quadrants. Fittingly, she called it ... and get ready for this ... "the matrix." See, sometimes things really are as they seem!

Anyway, I guess you kind of had to be there to fully appreciate the breathtaking power of Nina Louise's matrix, but believe me when I say that it was relevant to almost everything under the sun. Food, fun, friends, family, the future, a whole multitude of other things that didn't start with the letter "F" ... you name it. We applied the matrix and analyzed it. Bad date? Well, clearly that person never had lower-right quadrant, B2 potential anyway. You've eaten, feel full, yet still avail an extra stomach for the delights of dessert? Well, that's textbook, back-of-the-matrix, X14. Don't fight it, just accept it.

See how the matrix worked? Sometimes it made sense. Other times it didn't. But always, the matrix was fun.

***
For literally three weeks now, I've awoken every morning to springtime sun, wondering exactly how, in such a short time, I'm supposed to give up all of this. Counting on fingers and toes, it's been 20 months since starfish and waffles headquarters moved to Europe. Looking back at the archives, I think it's safe to say that most things have broken better than I could've ever had reason to expect - and maybe especially so in this jinxless second year where somehow, the equation has managed to output a whole greater than the sum of seemingly incongruous parts.

No, Sweden hasn't been perfect. But I appreciate it for what it is. Some maintain that life here as a student has been, well, like living in a matrix - fun, carefree youth suspended in a sort of animated adulthood - and that, this, not being real life, could never last.

Maybe the part about it not lasting is true, but I dispute that this hasn't been - and isn't - real life. The places I've seen are real. The people here are real. This springtime - is real.

***
Barring the unforeseen completion of a Hail Mary pass, it won't be long before I get back to the North American dream (hubris?) of working long hours in an office, a characterless house in the suburbs, no time to spend with the wife and 2.1 screaming kids, another gas-guzzling SUV in my garage, shopping in a shopping mall as cultural activity, and meaningful travel to such inspired locations as Las Vegas and Mayan Riviera Mexico.

I could go on, but the editor will stop me right here, so as to not get me accused of throwing a large percentage of our valued readership (we love you!) under a bus. So. Let me just say this about what lies in store: I can't hardly wait.

Square peg, round hole. We'll see if this gets interesting.


The colours of Swedish spring. Lund, Sweden. (2009).

Friday, April 10, 2009

four score

It's a good Friday. No, not just for reasons related to the namesake holiday, but also because on this 10 April 2009, felix's daily starfish and waffles turns four. Yay, score!


The people's editor celebrates four years of felix's daily starfish and waffles with four editor-sized Four Score Orange-Mango Vodka Smoothies.

In commemoration of this momentous day, we've decided to shake the rust off of that drink-mixin' arm (or front leg, in the case of the editor) and come up with a celebratory beverage. The result? The Four Score Orange-Mango Smoothie, a drink so sublimely - well, smooth - you'll be pounding the table for at least four more. (Score!)

Four Score Orange-Mango Vodka Smoothie
500mL freshly-squeezed orange juice
4 scoops of mango sorbet
3 shots of vodka
2 mangoes
2 bananas
1 lime, juiced

Put all ingredients in a blender. Blend. Pour. Serve. Drink. Celebrate! Repeat four times. And then again. (And again). Here's to four more years!

***
Still thirsty? More original starfish and waffles drink recpies are listed on the left side of this webpage, under the heading "Bartending School". Enjoy!

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

suspended syncopation


The double bass virtuosity of Palle Danielsson. Lund, Sweden. (2009).

***
The last of the Saturday afternoon jazz brunch concerts at the Mejeriet coincides with the first legitimate sunny weekend of spring. Predictably, sun-starved Swedes stay out of doors. Excellent. More room for us to stretch out and get lost in the syncopated groove.

The kicker: the sun's still shining after the show.


Bass and rhythm. Lund, Sweden. (2009).


Mathias Landaeus (piano), Palle Danielsson (double bass), and Jonas Holgersson (drums) headline the final Saturday afternoon jazz brunch concert in the spring season at the Mejeriet. Lund, Sweden. (2009).


Swedish jazz connoisseurs. Lund, Sweden. (2009).


Blue eyes in a sea of bluebells. Lund, Sweden. (2009).

Sunday, April 05, 2009

six ways from sunday: telephone


The rock star wide-angle portrait. Malmö, Sweden. (2009).

***
Talk of starting a rock band isn't a new idea here on starfish and waffles, but I tend to be of the opinion that good ideas ought to be hashed and re-hashed over and over again, so here we are (again). And now, a summary of a recent, true-life conversation ...

Me: That picture would make a good album cover for our rock band. You know, if we had a rock band.

Annica: Yes, definitely! Haha, but we don't have a rock band ... or do we??

Me: Well, we could start one. Would Sweden grant me permanent residency if I wrote down "rock star" on the citizenship application?

Annica: Of course they would!

Me: Cool. You can be the lead singer; I want to play the guitar. Chicks dig guys who can play the guitar.

Annica: But I can't sing ... does that matter?

Me: No, we're not one of those rock bands with talent. We succeed because you're hot and I have a great body.

Annica: Oh, right.

Please excuse me while I order frames for all of our future gold records.

***
Six Ways from Sunday is starfish and waffles' intermittently regular (figure that one out, smart guy) music column. Your mix tape with or without a theme, clicking on the active links below lead you to full-length, third-party, YouTube tracks of the day's musical selections. As always, happy listening.


1. Home for a Rest :: Spirit of the West :: Save This House (1990). There seems to be a bit of controversy about the songs at the top. Some of you are curious (how do you choose your #1's?), others skeptical (does being #1 actually mean anything?), while a select few are just plain angry (WTF?? your music sux!!). The editor, unfazed by it all, just shrugs his hunched bear shoulders and cracks open another cold beer. There's a reason he's in charge, see. "You'll have to excuse me, I'm not at my best / I've been gone for a week / I've been drunk since I left / These so called vacations will soon be my death / I'm so sick from the drink / I need home for a rest."


2. Engine Heart :: Mirah :: You Think It's Like This But It's Really Like This (2000). Obscure? Check. Hook? Check. Ukulele? Check. Sounds like a Six Ways from Sunday candidate to me. (Check). "Be still my heart / Engine turning over won't you start? / This one's come to tear me all apart / Be still my heart."


3. As Is :: Ani DiFranco :: Little Plastic Castle (1998). Ani, a self-declared bisexual, caused quite a stir among a certain demographic of her fanbase back in 1998 when she decided to marry - a man. Betrayal! cried those who played on the all-X chromosome team. Sorry girls, better luck next time. "And I've got no illusions about you / And guess what? I never did / And when I said, when I said I'll take it / I meant, I meant as is."


4. You Had Time :: Ani DiFranco :: Out of Range (1994). Ani, a self-declared bisexual, caused quite a stir among a certain demographic of her fanbase back in 2007 when she decided to remarry - another man. Betrayal! cried those who played on the all-X chromosome team. For those of you keeping score at home: Heteros 2, Team All-X 0. "How can I go home with nothing to say? / I know you're going to look at me that way / And say what did you do out there and what did you decide? / You said you needed time and you had time."


5. Passion Play :: William Fitzsimmons :: Until When We Are Ghosts (2006). Facial hair is back in. Fitzsimmons, who is known by some as simply "The Beard", sports a beard to end all beards. The editor actually had an interview scheduled with Fitzsimmons but was scared off, the poor bear, upon seeing such a frightening mess of facial hair. "Do you hear when I call in the midst of wrong? / Do you hear these here words while I sing this song? / Are you caught up in me like I heard you say? / Or just some big cashier that i'll have to pay?"


6. Wait :: Alexi Murdoch :: Time Without Consequence (2006). Does anyone else see what I did here? Making you wait until the end of this playlist for a song named "Wait"? It's deliciously clever, no? Oh, forget it, never mind. "So if I stumble, and If I fall / And if I slip now, and lose it all / And if I can't be, all that I could be / Will you? Will you wait for me?"