Daily Archives: June 18, 2002


As if Vanilla Coke wasn’t enough of a discovery, now I’ve found a new chocolate bar too: the Hershey’s Sidekick. The wrapper says, “Milk Chocolate, Peanut Butter and Soft Nougats”. (Nougats? I though “nougat” was a collective term, like “chocolate”. But I digress.)

In reality, what they’ve done with this new chocolate bar is a simple case of cross-breeding a Mars Bar with a Wunderbar.

It is soft and yummy. It is evil.

Two Vanilla Cokes left.


Marika Bournaki is the name of the eleven-year-old pianist who knocked my slippers off with the Chopin. Here’s a full list of the performers and their pieces; you can click on each name for a full list of their accomplishments.

And what have I done with my life?

Just kidding. These kids have had opportunities that didn’t come my way, that’s all. I chose different paths. What a world lies ahead of them, though…

Youth And Talent

I love promoting interest in the arts. I particularly love promoting the arts to young people.

In this case, however, it sounds like the young people are at a point I’ll probably never reach in my lifetime.

CBC Radio Two is broadcasting a series of performances across the country called Up and Coming, a series that showcases a variety of musical talent aged nineteen and under. I’ve been listening incredulously as violins, pianos and cellos stream out from my speakers and repeatedly distract me from my at-home work today. The final straw came when I heard the best rendition of Chopin’s Fantaisie impromptu I’d ever heard, and listened in astonishment when the host told us that the performer was an eleven year old girl from Montreal. Eleven!

These kids are phenomenal, and I love that CBC has created this new forum for young talent to be heard and appreciated. It’s an audition process, naturally. If the jury selects you to perform, you also are entered into a people’s choice type of contest. Those listening at the live concerts, and later on the radio, can vote for their favourite. The winner receives a scholarship to a music program in Banff, Alberta.

These kids out to be national treasures. I mean, just think of how much their brains must be worth already – and they can only get more valuable. Musicians tend to insure their instruments fanatically; maybe they should insure their heads, too…


It’s raining again.

If you surf through various Montreal blogs, you discover rather quickly that we talk about the weather frequently. For example, the five Montreal blogs I checked out this morning all mentioned that it rained this weekend. Mine didn’t, but this post makes up for it. (I decided I didn’t want to dwell on standing in the rain for forty minutes on the corner of Cavendish and Sherbrooke, where there’s a nasty wind-tunnel effect. And you certainly didn’t need to hear how miserable I was.)

We’re very sensitive to weather. It changes, frequently. We’re at its mercy, even though we don’t allow it to stop us. A Montrealer can make it to work through pretty much anything, which is why we laugh at Torontonians when they call out the army after a snowfall. Still, weather play an enormous role in our lives. The sun comes out – we smile. It rains for six weeks – we grump. (And become perpetually soggy, which makes our tempers short.) Yet through it all, most of us find the room in our days and hearts to appreciate the weather. “Look at that wind!” we’ll say. Or, “The lightning – it’s so brittle and beautiful, isn’t it?” Yep. Montrealers understand how weather fits into our personalities, all right. We are in awe, even if we grumble. We lean into a storm and relish it. We soak up the sun on the mountain when we can. Short skirts, sandals. Parkas, hiking boots. Gloves. Hats, sun or winter.

So, it’s raining today. Like it did Sunday, and Saturday too. This time last year, the farmers were crying for rain. The corn was only a couple of inches high. This year, they’re crying for it to stop. The stalks are rotting in the fields. Despite our lovely damp Spring, our fruits and vegetables will cost a lot more than usual this summer. They’re calling for a damp Summer, which means you’ll be seeing a lot of YUL posts about rain.

You’ve been warned.


I have tasted Vanilla Coke, and it is the nectar of the gods.

I was walking down the street with a friend on the way to work when I saw a huge display of it in a shop window. I dragged him in, bought a box, brought it to work and passed them around. The general response is that it’s okay; some people prefer Cherry Coke, others adore the Vanilla. I am one of the latter.

It tastes exactly like my Vanilla Schnaaps/Coke blend, but without that sharp alcoholic feeling on the back of your tongue. I so desperately do not want to become used to this taste. I want to make sure it’s a treat every time I drink it. I’m also afraid they’ll just yank it from the market without warning, so I’m considering stocking up on it against that very nightmarish occurance.

In other news, Ceri thoughfully sent me a link about some research they’re doing on the brains of musicians. Evidently they’re discovering that:

Musicians have bigger and more sensitive brains than people who do not play instruments, scientists revealed yesterday.

The auditory cortex, which is the part of the brain concerned with hearing, contains 130 per cent more “grey matter” in professional musicians than in non-musicians.

In amateur players, the volume of the auditory cortex is between the two, a team of researchers from Heidelberg University in Germany has found. They used scans and imaging techniques to compare the size and activity of the auditory cortex in 37 people.

The professionals, who all performed regularly, showed 102 per cent more activity in their auditory cortex than non-musicians. Activity in the brains of amateur musicians was on average 37 per cent higher than in those who did not play an instrument, the researchers said in a report in Nature Neuroscience. The auditory cortex consists mainly of “grey matter” or nerve cells called neurons, which are interconnected by long filament-like axons, or “white matter”.

All the math and stuff can be found here in the news report.

Ceri suggests that I wear a helmet to protect my apparently valuable auditory cortex. How fortuitous that I will be looking into Blue Cross today.