The Art of the Deal

In the summer, students forget that frugality exists. Tuition becomes a distant memory. Sunshine and spirits numb the pain. In September, the shit hits the fan.

But living on a tight budget doesn’t have to mean becoming an anti-social miser. Saving money works best if you approach it as a game. Are you able to go into a ritzy restaurant and spend only a few dollars? Can you orchestrate a lucrative textbook buy/sell scheme? Nothing feels more awesome than having fun all week and having money left over at the end.

Cheap dates

Think hard about what you’re going to spend your money on, and how long the post-purchase endorphin boost will last. Shopping turns to regrets very quickly, but creating things never does.

Continue reading

Book Nooks

I can remember the last day I did research at the library. I was in grade four and had already begun copy-pasting my projects from the internet. (Coincidentally, it was the same day that my best friend’s older brother introduced my best friend and I to internet porn on a library computer.) But primarily, libraries are a place for books.

At the Dalhousie (6225 University Avenue, 494-3617), Saint Mary’s University (923 Robie Street, 420-5544) and Atlantic School of Theology (624 Francklyn Street, 423-7941) libraries, you can find books that are more than five centuries old. Mount Saint Vincent University (166 Bedford Highway, 457-6445) has the largest collection of lesbian pulp fiction in North America. Dal has original recipes for Oland and Keith’s beer up to 1971 and an entire library devoted to Rudyard Kipling (author of The Jungle Book).

Continue reading

The Architect of Like

Imagine it’s the not-too-distant future. You invite your friends over to watch a movie, log into Facebook, then press play. You proceed to watch a movie with you and your friends as the main characters. There’s a Halifax techie bursting onto the scene who’s working on an app for that.

Last October, Jason Nickel, a Flash developer from Chester, released a horror short called “Take This Lollipop.” When more than 400,000 people tried to watch the video in the first 24 hours of its unadvertised release, its servers crashed. Over the coming months, the servers crashed regularly as the video racked up more than 100 million views.

On June 23, “Lollipop” won an Emmy award for Outstanding New Approaches in Daytime Entertainment.

“It made no sense,” says Nickel. “We were in there with Ellen, the Todayshow and The Bold and the Beautiful. You never see a website up for an Emmy.”

Continue reading

Raina the Mermaid

Raina the Mermaid has communicated with seals on the eastern shore, dodged jellyfish in the Atlantic Ocean and been chased by snapping turtles in the lakes of HRM. Raina has wavy red hair and wears a seashell bra. From her head to the tip of her scaled, orange tail, she is more than seven feet long.

“It’s so incredibly magical to be under the water and feel like that is your environment and your element, and to be a part of that space,” says Stephanie Brown, Raina’s semi-secret alter-ego. “One time I was in my tail for some photos and there were some seals nearby and I was flapping my fluke, and a seal started slapping his belly, and every time I’d flap my fluke, he’d slap his belly.”

Raina “mermaids” at birthday parties, fundraisers, business functions and public events multiple times a week, year-round, which comes with its challenges. “The biggest thing I have to worry about is jellyfish because when you’re underwater and everything’s so blurry, you don’t see a jellyfish until it’s stinging your face—I usually just get away from them in the nick of time, or they just hit up against my tail.”

When she takes off her silicone tail and becomes Stephanie Brown—the elementary school teacher in training—she still faces the tribulations of mermaiding.

Continue reading

Cousin and Wife

A group of volunteers sits in a circle of chairs in the lunch room of The Red Cross in Halifax. They’re all activists for different kinds of equality: an environmentalist; a social worker; a children’s rights activist; a gay rights advocate and a youth worker with the YMCA named Fadi.

Fadi, 28, is a Kuwaiti-born Palestinian refugee. At the YMCA, he helps other immigrants get settled in Canada.

The group has been assembled to coordinate an annual symposium. Most of the volunteers, Fadi included, have done it before, and all of them are getting caught up on each others’ lives.

In a team-building exercise, Fadi writes on a piece of paper that he is getting married, and then puts it in a hat with anonymous facts about the other volunteers. Someone pulls Fadi’s piece of paper out of the bag, and tries to guess who wrote it. Fadi remains nonchalant while they make two or three wrong guesses. When the paper gets matched back to Fadi, the group surges with excitement for him.

Lisa, who has known Fadi for four years, gets the first question. “So who is she?” she asks, beaming.

Fadi responds with pride and excitement, “She’s my cousin.”

The room goes silent. A couple people try to stutter a response. They wait for a punch-line. It never comes. The excitement drains from the room. Fadi’s smile is gone, too.

Continue reading

Sam Roberts Rocks Out

Apparently, Americans don’t listen to Sam Roberts. But luckily for us, people from Halifax do.

Last year the Canadian rock and roll musician recorded his fifth album, Collider, in Chicago. The album debuted at number three on the charts in Canada, but didn’t chart at all in the States. Roberts followed the release by touring across Canada and America.

On March 9, he’ll be taking the tour to Halifax. It will be Roberts’ first show at the Halifax Forum, though not his first in the city. On the morning of March 2, Roberts, a 37-year-old stay-at-home dad, took a break from parenting to chat with the Gazette.

Continue reading