Tuesday, December 30, 2008

2008, a year in fragments

What did this leap year bring me if not Rocky Mountain highs and 6-foot-deep lows? I did a lot this year, accomplished a lot - both good and bad. In going through my various journal entries and diaries and photo essays, I found things I never got to share with you, poppets. They may be a better “year in review” than my memory can recall.

It all began with wearing black silk for the first moments past midnight on January 1st. The fact that it was in pyjama form only serves to emphasise the kind of year it would be: contradictory. What was an attempt at being fancy and comfy at the same time only proved that it was not possible to marry opposites into a harmonious whole.

Another disturbing trend that resurfaced was sending and reading too many letters that just resulted in no good. However, sadly, not sending the letters I should have sent is what I'll remember most: "I believe it was in one of these self-flagellating moments that I broke down and laid bare to you all of my worst fears: poverty and mediocrity, living alone with no husband and no children, hungry and cold for the rest of my life. SUCH a drama queen. Your response, however, was something I didn’t know how to deal with or even interpret ('I could help you with 4, maybe 5, of those things') so I just ignored it." Why are we so scared to be honest? Because honesty, if coupled with vulnerability, leaves us far too exposed to the cruelties of truth.

Sitting in a cafeteria along the frozen shores of Hudson Bay, I had a small epiphany: when I could have been anyone I wanted, when my makeup was left in my bag and I wore the same black sweatshirt for days in a row, when all I had to rely on was my questionable charm and wit, I was most myself. And you know what? I hadn’t received more attention in all my life. What is it about trains and the romance of travelling on them? What is it about meeting new people in strange places that instantly bonds humans into quick camaraderie? What is it about being away from Toronto that suddenly makes everyone friendlier and cuter?

Cow Poetry (as found on the wall of Cowpuccino’s) ->

The first thing I brought into my brand-new, white-walled, condo? Toilet paper and hand soap. Those were the priorities. On subsequent trips, I brought in my favourite fridge magnet (“A very cute line monster saying “Come to the dark side. We have cookies!” while holding a platter of chocolate chip goodness), but was stumped by my non-magnetic stainless steel fridge. This did not bode well. Indeed, it was a precursor to a list a frustrations that seemed to be colluding to keep me from enjoying my new digs. Who’s laughing now?

With no great surprise, my official colours came back a split Gold-Green with a strong Orange streak and almost no Blue. What does all this mean? Golds are the nurturers: we take care of people and projects and pets because we feel we will do the best job of it; we remember to cater for the vegetarians and the diabetics at staff meetings and parties alike; we are very good at getting things done and following rules. Greens are the thinkers: we like puzzles and math problems and generally figuring out how things work; we thrive on logic and pattern and when things operate on feelings and not on fact, we feel disoriented, confused and generally lost; we are very good at starting projects but not very good at repeating them – repetitive tasks do not offer any comfort to us; we like to work alone with our own deadlines. What does this make me? A control freak with a strong sense of justice and fairness and a weak sense of people skills. That Orange streak probably accounts for my need to have a full social calendar; oranges are notoriously fickle. Blues are the feelers in the group and I have very little of that in my makeup. This means I am as loyal as they come (gold) and a great ally (green) but, while I love hanging out with you (orange) don’t ever expect me to understand if you cross me (lack of blue).

Christmas this year was really a downer. I usually love the season, only feeling a little blue when I remember all the people I’d have liked to still be able to spend time with but, for various reasons, cannot. This year, one lonely pot of poinsettias marked the occasion. I went through the motions – I baked and wrapped gifts and sang Christmas carols, but I just couldn’t feel it. Is this what getting old does? Robs me of the wonderment and magic that I always associate with this time of year?

A while back, I said I was getting back to writing. I finished a novella with which I’m fairly pleased. One of my favourite lines, as translated from a Hebraic lullabye: “… it's late and tomorrow we'll wake up and see how the day comes after every night …”

Monday, December 29, 2008

Now Playing: Doubt

I see where all the best acting accolades are coming from; Doubt is one of the best acted films I've seen in a long while. Thoroughly convincing, Streep, Hoffman and Adams just pulls you into their little world and simply never let go. And Viola Davis as the mother desperate to do right by her son? Fantastic. The one proper scene she gets is worth the price of admission. So, what's the movie all about? I guess the one word I would use is "power" - the power of suspicion, the power of threats, the power struggle between men and women, superiors and subordinates, the haves and the have-nots. I cannot promise happy endings... or even an ending, for that matter. What I can promise is a gripping little story that actually had me biting my nails at one point. If there ever was a movie that was tailor-made for the Academy, this would be it.

But there has to be a down side, no? Where the acting is superb, the pacing was a bit off - I mean, it wasn't slow enough in some parts and then there were other parts where entire spans of time pass and you have no idea what's happened. In fact, the resolution of the film is so quick, you almost missed it. I don't know, it just didn't sit very well, especially given the excellent of the rest of the film. I don't know whether to blame the director or the editing process.

Regardless, it's worth watching. 4 out of 5 stars.

*********

On a related note, sitting around and chatting about movies in general with a friend and I had my most cogent thoughts about why I watch so many of these things (and spend so much money I just don't have). In many ways, it's really difficult to rate movies on a 5-star scale. I mean, how can I give Hellboy II and Slumdog Millionaire the same rating? How indeed... I suppose in many ways I go to watch movies for two very different reasons: entertainment or provocation. Often, a film will deliver on one but not the other. Entertainment is easy to explain - anything that has some serious kickassery or scary moments or excellent special effects is entertaining. Summer blockbusters are all about entertainment. And then, there are movies that simply provoke me - thoughtful films that leave much to be discussed and argued over, rather than just gushing over the "did-you-see-that" moments.

Truly, movies are rarely both. Rather, it is precisely those movies that do both which garner 5 stars, at least for me. I walked into I Am Legend expecting a zombie flick; instead, I got one of the most heart-wrenching moments on screen. I had expected car chases and things-blowing-up in the Dark Knight - I did not expect to be blown away by the performances. I went to see Benjamin Button because I'd heard about Blanchett; the excellent use of CGI started a whole other conversation. So yeah, I watch a lot of filler (and awards season never fails to remind me of just how much), but in the end, I watch it to be entertained.

The same conversation also had me answering what "kinds" of movies I like - and I had to honestly answer that I like the movies that don't have a "kind" at all. I like literary fiction instead of genre fiction (though, I have been known to read a romance or several hundred) and I like literary films instead of genre films (though, I have been known to watch an action movie or several hundred). I am most certainly entertained by the pulp fiction (whether it be in print or celluloid); but it's the movies that provoke that never make me regret the $14 price tag.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Now Playing: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

Here's something I don't usually do - go on a movie date with my Mom. It was nice change of pace from watching movies with boys, let me tell you. We went to watch The Curious Case of Benjamin Button in a packed theatre on Boxing Day.

What's there to say about Button? It has all the makings of an award-worthy movie: A-list actors/acting (Cate Blanchett, Tilda Swinton and Brad Pitt, though it is Blanchett that steals the movie); an adapted screenplay based on an American literary master's work (F. Scott Fitzgerald happens to be one of my favourite modern writers); excellent directing (David Fincher in a departure from his Se7en and Fight Club days); a score, full of melancholy piano, that's to die for. Clocking in at 159 minutes, this isn't a movie for the easily bored. It has a slow unravelling and a sultry pace that's echoic of the New Orleans summer nights where the story seems to live, if not begin and end. And while everyone probably knows the plot before walking in, it isn't the plot that drives the movie - it's characters themselves. Fitzgerald is always very good at characters and Eric Roth is quite successful at capturing that.

The movie really is excellent; I guess my only concern is that it doesn't have anything sets it apart from from the rest of the pack. Besides the eponymous element upon which the entire story turns, I don't know if there's anything that's more or less outstanding than the rest of its Golden Globe company. I suppose I will have to consider the question again after watching the rest of the field. That being said, as a standalone review, Button was quite enjoyable and rewarding to watch. 4 out of 5 stars.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Now Playing: Slumdog Millionaire

When I was first told a synopsis for Slumdog Millionaire ("it's an Indian romance"), my gag reflex went into effect. I hate romantic movies to begin with but a romantic Indian movie? Complete with high-pitched heroines dancing behind trees with their unattractive love interests? Puh. Leeze. Then it got nominated for a Golden Globe, in the drama category no less, and I had to look it up for myself. Hmm… not so much a romance and directed by none other than Danny Boyle. All right - let's go. Before you read on, I should say that there may be what some people will classify as plot spoilers in the following paragraphs. I don't think so, but I am a more… observant movie-watcher than most.

First of all, the plot was very well done. Suspenseful and light-hearted in all the right places and paced so well, I almost didn't want the movie to end even while I was dying to know how it ended. The twists and revelations were beautiful little vignettes; the whole idea of fate and chance, of luck and destiny were presented in a way that actually had me believing. Boyle really does know how to engage his audience. A special kudos to A. R. Rahman, the music director - the choices were colourful and varied (from bangra to MIA, from haunting to a staccato chaos… just perfect). It should also be mentioned that this movie was co-directed by Loveleen Tandan, who must have been responsible for the ribbon of authenticity that flowed throughout the movie.

And then, there was the cast. Tandan worked a mini-miracle in getting actors that weren't related to look and act so alike that they made growing up appear as seamless as it happens in real life. Dev Patel and Madhur Mittal are very convincing as brothers, but it was little Jamal (Ayush Mahesh Khedekar) who stole the show. I just rooted for that little guy, from the moment he appeared covered in feces asking for Amitabh Bachan's autograph, hoping against hope that he would actually make it. His exuberance and unabashed goodness is easily counterbalanced by his brother, little Salim (Azharuddin Mohammed Ismail), whose utter selfishness and ghetto pragmatism serves as an excellent foil.

Yes, there are moments when reality is stretched… but isn't that the marker of every movie you've ever watched? And this movie is self-proclaimed fairy tale, so why not have a little fairy dust sprinkled throughout? I know, it's hard to believe in magic existing within such conditions - poverty so acute that professional beggar-children are maimed for higher profits, that squalor so deep that living on a refuse heap is acceptable. Boyle/Tandan don't try to make a World Vision moment out of the movie - they simply present reality as the backdrop for this decidedly fantastical movie. In real life: Latika would have had more than just a scar on her cheek, Jamal would have been blinded, Salim would probably have ended up in much the same place as he did. In Slumdog, as the first 30 seconds of the movie tells you, "Jamal Mallik becomes a millionaire." 4.5 out of 5 stars.

getting my Martha on

For a girl who has forsaken all things domestic, I sure did a lot of baking this past little while. And cleaning. And other domestically-inclined things like laundry, ironing, bill-paying, etc. When I was growing up, I always envisioned I'd have a magical personal assistant who would take care of all these details in my life. I mean Selina Kyle had one, why can't I? I had imagined dinners at nice restaurants, classical music at home while I read books and drank wine, power suits and tight chignons. Alas. Real life is so very disappointing. So instead of spending my mini-vacation doing all those pseudo-glam things, I made many dozens of various cookies, at least three cakes and bucket loads of nimkis and cheesestraws, followed by a day of cleaning the kitchen and bathroom. Not a stemmed glass in sight.

I don't know when it happened, but my life took a distinct turn for the quiet side. I hate that I spend more time watching Friends than I do watching all those movies I've missed, that I drink more Fresca than I do Amaretto Sours, that reading only seems to happen during commercials and oven timers.

This has led to Resolution #2: Be More Glamourous. This will include things like:
- attend a cultural event at least once a month (TSO, Stratford, ROM… I'm looking at you);
- wear mascara, like a grownup;
- learn how to mix a cosmopolitan;
- dress more appropriately, like a grownup;
- read more than my Book Club books.

BTW, for those who weren't there, Resolution #1: Be More Green. I've already taken steps towards this Christmas (e-cards instead of paper cards, wrapped gifts in reusable bags instead of wrapping paper) and will be continuing the trend in the New Year. Some ideas?
- changed all my bills to paperless/online
- full-on recycling everything at home
- shopping at Bulk Barn to reduce packaging (and save money!)
- using cloth/heavy-plastic bags;
- buying refills for things like hand soap and makeup (thank you Yves Rocher and MAC for making these things possible)

I wonder how long this list will get before '09 gets rung in.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Now Playing: The Day the Earth Stood Still

Is there anyone out there who can unact the way Keanu can? I doubt it. So, it doesn't come as any surprise at all that he gets cast as an alien sent to judge humanity's worth. Well, what's there to say... as a sci-fi movie, The Day The Earth Stood Still was all right. The au courant enviro-green theme was quite prominent, but it didn't feel as heavy-handed as The Happening. Jennifer Connelly wasn't as annoying as she usually is and a neat little appearance by John Cleese made me quite happy.

I think the best part about the movie was all the questions it brought up:
1) Would humans really shoot first at a UFO and ask questions later?
2) Is there anything an alien could do as "first contact" that wouldn't be interpreted as "hostile intentions"?
3) Why does GORT have a humanoid form, complete with 5 fingers?
4) Would Earth be the same without humans? Are we that insignificant in its life?
5) Is there a Keanu movie I wouldn't see?

Deep stuff indeed. 3.5 out of 5 stars.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

being cool

Though I have some friends who will attest otherwise, I have always felt that I was never part of the "cool" crowd. All those typical avenues to being cool were totally not open to me (i.e. athletics, music, beauty). Having accepted this shortcoming early in life, I haven't felt the urge to fit in. It wasn't until Friday night that I finally understood why: I have always found a way to surround myself with people who enjoy the same things as myself. Whether it's Hybrid rock or board games or book club, I have people with whom I love hanging out who also like doing these things. Lately, I've been having some trouble juggling all these groups. There used to be a time when all fun things were ignored because I was working so many hours it was impossible to accommodate (though, I did manage to play board games while at work for a few years). Now, I'm finding it hard to fit it all in. I've begun amalgamating friends who like to do many things (Book Clubbers who also like board games? check), but this only leads to hanging out with the same people all the time. This can be good, but I like seeing lots of different people, you know? And I don't have that many dress-up clothes to allow for seeing the same person 4 days in a row socially. I think I finally understand what JC and Jadek mean about me being "cool" - I like people and I find ways to have them like me back. And I don't give a flying fig about who they're wearing or what they do.

Which brings me full circle to Friday night. Leanne (visiting from Cali) insists we dance as much as possible while she's here's, so Friday night finds us (and Nish and Matgician) at Tattoo Rock Parlour along with LilBro, his old friend Gis and his newly-ex-but-trying-to-be-friend DBo.
- First, the club: we were promised Hybrid - we got Pop Rocks; an overpriced $10 cover; hugely overpriced drinks (that I didn't buy, but had plenty bought for me); a way-too-crowded dance floor FULL of rock posers.
- Second, the peeps: the boys in the club were great - laid-back, fun and generous; the girls were trying too hard and were actually kind of bitchy… which is so unusual for rock clubs. I really miss the Funhaus crowd.
- Finally, the drama. LilBro and DBo were "dating" and decided to call it quits. But, at the pre-drinking session, they were getting all cozy. That's fine - DBo seems like a nice enough, if a little flaky. At the club, they get all close and start making out. LilBro goes for a smoke and DBo proceeds to make out with someone else. Of course, LilBro is decidedly unimpressed and I have to step in so he doesn't deck the other guy. This is when my judgemental personality rears her ugly head: I understand making out with complete strangers at clubs; I understand making out with your on-again-off-again at the club; I even understand making out with strangers and your on-again-off-again…what I don't understand is being confused when the on-again-off-again gets mad. What do you mean you don't know what's wrong? Anyway, DBo went home early - at least I think she did because she just disappeared without so much as letting one of us know that she was leaving.

And why did DBo do this? Here are the theories:
1) She was too drunk to know what she was doing;
2) She is stupid and didn't know the consequences of her actions;
3) She is a whore;
4) She was jealous of LilBro and Gis (which is stupid because a) they've been friends for over 15 years and b) Gis is gay).
…it doesn't really matter the reason, because I wasn't about to let her cause enough trouble to get us kicked out so I basically told her to step off. I just didn't care that I may have come off as a prude or a busybody or a killjoy - she was being, in my humble opinion, a total jerk.

I suppose it doesn't matter that it was a clearly uncool thing to do - according to LilBro's status, cool is dead anyway.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

cinephile?

The Golden Globe nominations were announced today. I was rather looking forward to it - it's a way for me to reinforce the idea that, yes, I am a cinephile. For the Globes, I really only focus on the Best Picture category (since there are way to many categories for me to keep straight. So here's the list:

Best Picture (Drama):
- The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
- Frost/Nixon
- The Reader
- Revolutionary Road
- Slumdog Millionaire

Best Picture (Comedy or Musical):
- Burn After Reading
- Happy-Go-Lucky
- In Bruges
- Mamma Mia!
- Vicky Cristina Barcelona

Oh. My. God. I have seen ONE out of ten; even more shamefully, NONE of the Drama pics. I was shocked. What about all those movies I've devoured and rated? Surely I've watched something of consequence in the last 11 months? According to the Golden Globe people: no. So, with a heavy heart of disappointment in my own cinematic prowess, I began to look up the release dates for the movies. That's when I realised something: all these movies have December release dates; and those that have been already released are only in limited theatres. What the hell? There have been NO good movies all year? NONE? Do we only release award-calibre movies in December now? And what's with releasing movies on Christmas/Boxing Day? Most of us have families to entertain and malls to frequent.

Also, there are some conspicuous absentees: Traitor, The Dark Knight (drama) and Tropic Thunder (comedy) come to mind. Anyway, I've set up my alerts. Now I just need the company. So! Who wants to see Slumdog Millionaire? Better yet, who can find a local theatre that actually plays it?

Monday, December 08, 2008

falling off

I've been a bad, bad blogtress. I haven't updated in so long - and that too, they were reviews. So here's the Coles notes version of what's been happening lately.

1) ElizaPoppins is having a baby and it's very exciting! Baby Hannah is due in Feb; already I've decided that I will spoil her rotten. Kaylee organised a baby shower. This meant that I was let loose in Babies R Us to buy booties and towels and onesies. All repressed maternal instincts came bursting out, and I totally almost lost it. Everything is just so small and cute - as Nish says, baby socks are my krptonite. I couldn't believe the pile of things I'd amassed when I got to the checkout counter; it was like the beeping register was keeping time with my now-very-loudly-ticking biological clock. The shower itself took care of that: though the baby things made us all "aww" in squeaking levels only canines could register, the bad babies were enough to remind me about why I don't like children. Ahhh, other people's spawn… they are the perfect birth control.

2) Media is accumulating time in my life: on DVD there's Lost and Spaced and The Wire; on actual TV, there's Survivor and Smallville and Stewart/Colbert and (lately) The Hour. This means at least 10 hours are sucked out of my life… 10 hours I could really use. Movies will also be made more prominent soon, as Award Season starts up again. And WoW, of course, has become a personal challenge (ever since they introduced achievements, I feel like I -need- to play). *sigh* what if I had a real hobby? When would that get slotted in?

3) Social Life. There was a time I didn't have one. Then I finished school. Now, I'm back to having several different circles of friends. Not that I'm complaining - they're all wonderful in their own way and I would never give them up. But now, I have the Book Clubbers, the WoW guys, the Board Gamers, the Librarians, the FISees… not to forget my beloveds, Nish, Jadek, JC.. and of course my family… Christ. Something will have to go … but what? Probably Thursday night WoW so I can have one night to myself.

4) Work. Unlike being in Sciences, being at work is … well, work. I have to pay far more attention here than I did over there. I could spend four hours on a desk in Science and answer one question… not so much in Children's. Plus, I'm more involved here. I guess I should just let things go and stop taking on so many responsibilities; on the other hand, when I'm not busy, I'm bored. I have yet to strike a happy medium. What I'd like to do is work extended days and then get an extra day off in the week - that would make for better division between work and play. I always did work better with larger chunks of time.

5) House stuff. Everyday, I go home and feel like a failure. There are empty picture frames which I haven't had time to fill (or even sort through pictures and send to print, for that matter); drawers that aren't organised, things that have no home… I just hate when things aren't in place. I'm not one for change - once I get all homey, I keep things fairly static. But the getting there… I just haven't found the time I'd like to devote to it. Perhaps I need a vacation wherein in which I just stay home and get a project done a day. Like painting the bathroom spots that I missed the first time around or organising the sweaters in my closet or shopping for a bedroom storage bench and a hall chair or … god, there's just so much. I'm not going to think about it. I'm going to watch TV.

Now Playing: Punisher - War Zone

Before the glut of Oscar/Golden Globes offerings, there is this deadly boring lull in movies. If you were looking forward to Twilight, you had something... if you weren't, well, you were like me and ho-hummed your way through November.

Yesterday, I went to see the new Punisher, with Titus Pullo in the titular role. Joining him: McNulty, Rita and Newman. It was everything I was expecting: lots of violence, hardly any acting and thoroughly entertaining popcorn-muncher. Okay, I'm being overly critical: Ray Stevenson was actually a very good Frank Castle and Doug Hutchison was a perfect Loony Bin Jim. Julie Benz, however, was just rehashing Rita and Dominic West... oh, my god... where was his dialect coach? It was the most hammed-up Joyzey accent I've ever heard. And yes, I'm aware that this takes place in New Yawk. It was distracting, to say the least. If you're bored, rent it when it comes out: 3 out of 5 stars, for what it's trying to be.

I'm looking forward to quite a few movies which are trying to squeeze in before 2008 bids us all adieu: The Road, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Rachel Getting Married, Slumdog Millionaire, just to name a few. Of course, I'll be watching The Day The Earth Sood Still as soon as I can, because it has my beloved Keanu doing what he does best: unacting. December is always a crazy busy month (I'm thinking I will have to start saving more vacation dates for this, the last month of the year). I hope by this time next week, I'll be in a better position to keep up with my recently ignored inner-cinephile.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

The World Without Us by Alan Weisman

I kept to my goal of reading at least one non-fiction book a year - it's November, so I cut this one a bit close. Enter the latest Book Club pick: The World Without Us. It's full of interesting factoids (ceramic tiles would be the last marker of humanity) and fabulous thought projects. The (often insightful) observations of bonobo and chimpanzee behaviors when it comes to humans is equally captivating: "Murderous, mutual loathing between tribes was not more explicable, or complicated, than the genocidal urges of chimpanzees -- a fact of nature that we humans, vainly or disingenuously, pretend our codes of civilization transcend." My favourite passage comes early, and gives me some hope for our species: "bonobos, smaller and more slender than chimps but equally related to us, don't seem very aggressive at all. Although they defend their territory, no inter group killing had ever been observed. Their peaceful nature, predilection for playful sex with multiple partners, and apparent matriarchal social organization with all the attendant nurturing have practically become mythologized among those who insistently hope that the meek might yet inherit the Earth."

The writing can be a bit dry at times and I'm always looking for more prosaic writing (more description, more colour, more adjectives), but Weisman is far more interested in sociology than poetry. The book promises to answer whether our planet would heave a great green sigh of relief at our disappearance or, perhaps, miss us as one of its black sheep children. There are no real answers; but, like Neo in the Matrix, it's the question that drives this entire work. I recommend the book for the cottage in the summer - surrounded by all that nature, one won't be able to help but feel a visceral connection that all humans, at their core, must feel for this blue and green marble we call home.

Monday, November 24, 2008

that's why it really hurts

On Saturday, just before midnight, I got a phone call from my mother. Dad's in a lot of pain, she says. Won't let me call 911, she says. Only wants to see you, she says. What could I do? I drove like a madwoman to get to my old home as fast as I could, only to find my father curled up and crying like a baby. The same man who could barely get himself to shed tears when my Dada passed away 16 years ago. So, I called 911 and seven EMTs later, I'm driving again, this time to the hospital. Thank God JC was there (first to make sure I changed into real shoes, then to make sure I kept breathing in the waiting room). Four hours of lying in an overcrowded hallway (and many indignities) later still, the doctor comes by and tells us that he'll need a CT scan in morning. The nurse injects morphine into my father's IV drip and he, mercifully, drifts asleep.

On Sunday morning, three and a half hours of sleep clocked in, we go back only to find him moved elsewhere. A few minutes of panic while none of the nurses seem to either know where he is or want to bother to look it up. (Props to the night nurses who were friendly and courteous). We see him wheeled back from getting his CT (something he should have gotten when he first saw blood but couldn't get an appointment until December 3). A kidney stone, only 5 mm thick. All that pain and blood and puke for something smaller than a ball bearing.

But all my sympathy and sadness was being seriously undermined. By what? Well, he saw blood in his urine last Sunday. Panicked, he went to the doctor and he was told it could be one of two things: urinary tract infection or kidney stones. He was prescribed antibiotics and told to keep hydrated. What does he choose to do instead? Skips his Saturday dosage so he can go to a party and have a drink. Four drinks actually. Which made it all the more complicated because it's obvious his kidneys aren't functioning very well to begin with, so when he gets wheeled into the hospital they can't treat him as well as they would like because of the alcohol in his system. God. What a totally irresponsible thing to do. Two hulking adults who can't figure out the right thing to do, who bend their wills to whatever "they" (as in their friends) will think. What are they, twelve? Christ. I am so on the anger stage of the twelve steps.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Now Playing: Quantum of Solace


I have to admit, I didn't watch Casino Royale for one reason only: I don't like my Bonds being blond. Even Daniel Craig couldn't convince me otherwise. But now Quantum of Solace comes out and I've been made an offer I can't refuse - a free ticket. So, I get Casino and watch it so I'm all caught up for Quantum.

I like action movies - they're lovely bits of mindless drivel that please the 13-year-old boy that surely lives deep within me. I also like revenge movies, because there's a sense of vicarious satisfaction that comes from watching a piece of scum getting garroted. Mix in my undying love for overly capable men who can drive stick and you've got the perfect mark for a Bond fan. Alas.

Casino Royale was slow. Cards? Honestly. Also, the unnecessary romps on beaches was just boring (I like my Bond to be a sexy, not all tamed). I yawned more than once and felt the movie was at least 30 minutes too long.

Quantum of Solace fixed one of my basic problems: clocking in at just over 100 minutes, it wasn't TOO long, but it still felt a bit drawn out. The action was gritty and fantastic; the bond girls were very Bond-y and capable. The villian was appropriately villainy. There were enough twists and backstabs to keep everyone happy. It was an okay movie.

But it wasn't a very good Bond movie. And why? It all comes back to Daniel bloody Craig. He just doesn't cut it as James Bond. I'm supposed to beleive that he oozes enough charm to break Bolivian spies and office clerks alike - but I don't. He's not ugly, but he's not handsome either. He looks like a bruiser - not at all suave and debonaire. And he's not smooth at all - he loses his cool more than he keeps it; he seems to be in a constant state of shaken and stirred.

I know Pierce Brosnan was a bit of a ponce, but you know who they could have had? Clive Owen. Now there's a Bond I can get behind.

I give both movies 3 out of 5 stars.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

pain

There's a theory out there when it comes to children and illness. It goes something like: when they're young let them get sick and eat mud and scrape their knees. All that time they'll spend being sick as children, they'll get over and have fabulous immune systems as adults. Children have a way of bouncing back. Thanks mom, for making me hug the chicken pox-ed LilBro. It's probably the same for pain in general: broken bones heal so much quicker when we're kids. Broken feelings too. We go from "I hate you" in morning recess to "you're my best friend" by afternoon. So much harder to forgive as adults. Is it because the sins are so much greater? Or are we just that much more brittle?

I have come to three conclusions in the last 72 hours.

1) I have the physical memory of a sieve but the emotional memory of an elephant. I don't remember, really, having both my wrists snap on my virgin skateboard experience but I distinctly remember a June playground where my faith in humanity first shattered. So it comes as no surprise that, even after the passage of time and conversation, I still feel slightly hurt and vengeful whenever I'm around certain people (but have no compunction about skydiving). Could I forgive him? I think I have. But I don't think I can forget.

2) There are only four people who would really miss me if I got hit by a Mack truck tomorrow. I don't mean that I would have one full pew at my funeral - I think I'd have at least two. I mean that, after time passed, there would probably be only four people who think of me randomly (standing in a movie line or drinking a hot apple cider) and actually miss me. Weirdly enough, I don't feel sad about this. I feel, strangely content. Four whole people. That's more than a lot of people. I feel lucky.

3) Stats are far crueller than the month of April. We know that the chances of winning the lottery are 1 in 28 million but people buy tickets anyway. There are those other stats too; the worse ones. The 1 in 7 and, being female, the emotionally eviscerating 1 in 4. Why does it even surprise me any more to hear about someone else? Basic math skills tell me that either my circle of friends have been fortunate or (more likely) that we're better at keeping secrets than we let on. Here's my theory: it matters when stuff like this happens to you. If it happens as a kid, we're so used to the idea that the memory of it doesn't phase us anymore. I'm not saying it isn't hurtful or raw or heart-breaking - it's all of those things - but the pain isn't a sharp as if it happens to you as a grown woman. If it happens as a kid, you learn to function like a normal human being despite this secret you carry with you, like a disfiguring scar you’ve learned to over up with makeup. So it's not that.

What constricts the chest and blurs the vision is the knowledge that it's happening right now. Not theoretically - because, statistically, we know it happens once every 8.1 seconds. Seconds. It's the knowledge that, as I'm turning off my bedroom lamp, someone, in a place I've been, is crying because of the pain and humiliation of it all.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Nouvelle France

Ahh, Vieux-Québec... not a UNESCO World Heritage site for nothing.

When I was in Grade 7, we learned all about New France. That's where I got to wrap my thoroughly anglophone tongue around delicious names like Samuel de Champlain, Jacques Cartier, Jean Talon, Joliet and Marquette; it's where I ate up the stories about General Wolfe and Generale Montcalm, battling it out on the Plains of Abraham, the very character of a nation being fought over by its founding fathers; it's where my cynical tween self felt a spark of nationalism that hasn't sputtered since.

Yesterday, I stood on those Plains, just past the Saint-Louis Gate, with the setting sun glinting off the Chateau Frontenac. For a moment, I felt that 12-year-old leap a little in my chest. Québec City is a beautiful reminder of our roots. While Canada is a country renowned for its natural beauty, it is small pockets like this that show we are more. I stood at the port where Champlain decided he would build a city; I stood on the spot where our Confederation was signed; I ate lunch in a retaurant established in 1657. When I ducked into an art store to rifle through the $5 bin, the proprietress struck up a conversation with me that had little to do with exchanging money. It felt like I was back in New France - for a just a moment - chatting with a local shopkeeper.

I hardly get to view the sites of my country as a tourist - I find humans rarely enjoy the treats they can find in their own backyards. We are so concerned with broadening our horizons that we often overlook that which is right in front of us. I have longed for so long to see birthplace of our modern nation I was almost too overwhelmed to do anything but grin like an idiot and answer in stilted French, "ça va bien, merci, et vous?"

Pardon my rusty French, but I have a few things I must say. Je t'aime Vieux-Québec. Je t'aime Canada. Je suis honoré d'être une partie d'une telle grandeur.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Monday, November 03, 2008

treated and tricked

Here's what I learned over the weekend:

1) Fright Fests are very frightening only if
a) you have not seen the movie before and
b) everyone else is as scared as you.

2) The Rocky Horror Picture Show is a real testament to the liberalities of the 70's. BTW: liberalities? Not a word - but it should be. Tim Curry is one hell of a singer. And he totally rocks stilettos.

3) Hanging out with my brother is a sure-fire way to get drunk when I don't have to DD his ass home. oh. my. god.

4) Nothing beats a compliment like this: "are you old enough to get into clubs?"

5) The aftermath of a good party is as amusing as the party itself. Here is a catalogue of things I found after wandering about the house at 0930 (EST)
a) three distinct sticky patches
b) a glob of salsa on a glass table
c) four socks, none a pair
d) a broken tiara
e) pants
f) several glasses, some labelled thusly: "Mistress Mandy" "Mand-- er, I mean, Agnes" "Macho Mike" "Mister J." "Sexy D" "Dallas Green""Paper Bag Erin" ... and yes, these are real people.
g) a pile of jewellery I remember putting on but not taking off.
h) Tarot cards, still in their last spread position - they were all swords, man.

6) Gatorade is THE best thing for a hangover.

Monday, October 27, 2008

time suckage

Ever since Sammy (my TV) moved in two weeks ago, I have been completely unproductive. Why clean when I can watch People's Court? Why sleep when I can watch Jon Stewart AFTER The Hour? Why blog when South Park is on (as it is right now)? I suppose that this is all a sign of settling in - now that there are no boxes to unpack or room to paint or even closets to organise, I have been giving over all my free time to the time suck known as TV. boo. BOO (that's a big boo).

I have 2 major projects on hold for no reason: picture frames that need to be populated and decorating some plain wine glasses. The photos require me to go back to my parents' place and steal some pics... as well as actually printing the digital ones I have now. But that means scouring through the thousands (literally) of pics that are sitting on my HD - yuck. Why do that when I can watch The Simpsons? And the wine glasses? well... that's just a commitment issue I'm having. I'll just get over it... after Dancing with the Stars.

Stupid TV. I need to cancel my cable.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Now Playing: Max Payne

After the disastrous movie last week, I was a little hesitant about watching another "blockbuster" tonight. But boredom and ridiculous proximity to the theatre really doesn't help the situation. Thus: the 2215 showing of Max Payne. It wasn't a bad choice, especially considering that these are the types of movies one should watch on a big screen. So, while the bullet time did bring back fond memories, it also looked very pretty.

It's kind of late, so here's a stream of consciousness review of the movie:

I liked it, it was entertaining enough. Mila Kunis was damn hot; I actually didn't recognise her at first, but then she spoke in English and all was well. Every time Mark Wahlberg interrogated someone, I kept thinking of the Andy Samberg SNL skit - which made me giggle at inappropriate moments. But what was up with those valkyries? Hardly based on the Norse legends in looks, they were nicely crafted, I thought. Having the bad guy holed up in a club called Ragnarok, though, was pretty evident, but not more so than the twist, which I called the minute I saw a certain actor hit enter stage left (if you hit the link, consider yourself spoiled). I kept seeing actors I recognised from their other lives: Marlo, Jackie, Camille, Nelly... it was a little distracting, but I soon got over it. This would look really good on Blu-Ray. In the end, was it worth it? I guess, to kill time. Will I remember it a year from now? Hellz no. 3 out of 5 stars.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

(on) The Road (again)

When I read The Road, it was because I was on such a high after seeing No Country for Old Men. I wrote a review on it, having read it in that most bleak of times (December). I couldn't quite capture how much I loved this book then, and I still cannot do so now. Then, I logged on to one of my favourite websites - www.unshelved.com - and lo! A review really worth sharing. Enjoy, poppets!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Now Playing: Quarantine

Don't go watch it. Rent it, if you must. It will probably decrease the amount of motion-sickness you will feel (Blair Witch anyone?). The acting was fairly believeable even if the premise completely was not. And don't even get me started on the many (many many many) plot holes and loose ends. Honestly, don't go watch it. I wish i could get my money/time back. 1.5 out of 5 stars (for the acting and the indestructible camera).

Thursday, October 16, 2008

mode not supported

Today, I welcomed a new member to the Chez DissolvedGirl family: Sammy. Sammy's brood have been living under my bed for two weeks, awaiting his arrival and their (hopefully) joyful reunion. When he arrived (in one of the biggest boxes I've ever seen), there was much smiling and crying. Geek Squad were on hand to get everyone hooked up, fill out the right paperwork and basically reunite me with the magical land of TV. Three hours later, here are all my disappointments:

1) Swedish people don't like electronic gadgets in their bookshelves. This is blatant segregationism, but what can I say? I have a lot of Swedish furniture and Japanese gadgets - apparently, never shall the twain meet.

2) The Wall of Terror is not a figment of my imagination - even Geek Squad commented on its ability to make men into boys again.

3) I HATE technology. I pay lots of money for pretty things - I simply want them to work. After Geek Squad left, everything stopped working. The screen kept saying "Mode not Supported" - what the hell does that mean?! After actually breaking down into tears - yes, I cried like a little boy in a sandbox, sue me - I simply left it all alone and went out for a burger. I came back and calmly tackled the problem again. Here I am - almost eleven hours after Sammy first rolled through my door and everything is FINALLY working.... right down to the PS3.

4) A good dongle fixes all. It's true.

5) I work best when no one is watching.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

he, robot

/soapbox

Ahh, yet another Minority Conservative government. I don't understand voters. First, hardly any of them show up. Then, the ones who do vote for a guy who claims to have an economic solution but, yet, has squandered through almost $12B in a surplus, a guy who calls an election (which costs millions of dollars) but gets almost nothing for it. I just don’t get the appeal, folks. I'm a pretty conservative person (yes to Capital Punishment, yes to tax incentives for big business) but I just cannot see how we can vote for a party that only has one province's interests at heart. All we have to do is look South of the border to realise how damaging a conservative/republican government can be to not only one's own economy/country but to that country's reputation globally.

I know that Stephane Dion does little to inspire voter confidence; however, Harper inspires far too little trust. I feel like this is a man who would sell our economy (and our resources) to the highest bidder with absolutely no thought to our sovereignty or long-term well-being. Oil sands can only yield so much and already the barrels are tumbling. Will we wake up one day and realise that we need to take greater steps to protect the things that will really matter in the coming years? Things like our forests, fisheries and fresh-water? I hope so - but I really hope it doesn't happen too late. I remember Mike Harris and his subsequent pillaging of the Ontario economy, his shortsighted promises of dismantling photo-radar (which he then sold to fellow conservative, Ralph Klein who went on to make BILLIONS of dollars in revenue for Alberta) and the devastation that he left in his wake.

Like the provincial (Ontario) Liberals who came in and cleaned up the mess, the federal liberals will be left with the aftermath again (remember Mulroney?). I wish that voters had longer memories than just the past few months. I wish they would remember that we haven't had a strong, vital conservative government since John A. Macdonald. I really wish they would remember that these Conservatives are primarily made up of those whack-job Reformers who hired the Heritage Front (you can Google them) as their security.

While the Liberals were in power, we enjoyed a healthy economy (for all, not just the rich) and we were working toward Kyoto. Now? I just don’t know. Sure, there were like $20 million dollars given to some advertising firm during the referendum… so? Even a $100 million spent to keep our country together doesn't seem that big a deal. We've spent billions of dollars keeping the oil barons rich since then. While the Conservatives are in power, I feel uneasy… something I'm not used to in this wonderful country of ours.

Here's hoping for a new Liberal leader that can get us away from these right-wing fat cats.

/end soapbox

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

giving of the thanks


Up here in Canada, we celebrated Thanksgiving this past weekend. Sorry to my American readers... no, we do not mark Columbus Day with a ritual slaughter of game fowl. In my house, we only slaughter organic farm-fowl - and that too, it's a chicken. For the first time in a while, I actually had 2 days off in a row, so it really felt like a long weekend.

Saturday night, I was at my parents' place for quiet thanksgiving foursome. (Get your minds out of the gutter people - i mean, it was only my mom, dad, brother and I around the table... sheesh). That was pleasant. LilBro gave thanks first - after clarifying that no, we weren't "praying" and that, yes, he could just use this time to declare his gratefulness in general without attaching any religious significance... *sigh* ... he's so prickly, that one. Then I went, making sure to note that I was thankful that our dinner only consisted of the family members that I liked. Mom had to thank God first, thereby nullifying LilBro's atheistic vote. Dad was thankful for the food, which he had already sampled before we even sat down. I couldn't blame him - food was good.

During dinner is when LilBro drops his mini-bomb: he wants to join the Canadian Forces. I haven't heard such deafening silence in years. At first, I'm thrilled. Finally, the boy makes a decision that will provide some direction in his life. Of course, my parents are dead against it. "Why now?" asks my mother. "Why not when you were 16 and it could have moulded you into a proper man? Why now, when they're coming back in coffins from Afghanistan?" After giving us a spiel about how his life is not going anywhere, how he could actually serve his country, LilBro gets to the heart of his decision: "you and dad told me get a plan (e.g. a job, go back to school, etc.) or I'd have to find my own way in January. This is my plan." ...This is when I stop being supportive. I hate it when he does that. Whenever he's asked to actually do anything, he always picks some ridiculous extreme to guilt my parents into backing down. So, I did what any big sister would do - I called him on it. He really had nothing more to say after that. I told him if he was so gung-ho about serving his fellow citizens, there were plenty of local options: firefighting, police forces, customs. He didn't have to risk his head being blown up. Besides, he's not the army-type. This is a boy who votes Green Party, for God's sake. He's as much an army rat as I am. Needless to say, this Canadian Forces thing hung like a pall all through dinner.

*****

Yesterday, I hosted my very first "dinner-party" - though, technically, it was Thanskgiving lunch. Anyway, 18 people in my tiny condo - but it was good times. I served an entire meal, from apps (Chat patti and shrimp rings and homemade pate) to entrees (lemon fish, tandoori chicken, pork vindaloo) to dessert (fruit cocktail and indian sweets). Judging by the lack of food left over, I think it went over quite well. I got some fairly useless housewarming gifts and two VERY useful ones. I know people's hearts are in the right place, but I always wonder how one chooses gifts for one's, say, god-daughter. Is it "hey this is useful and cheap" or "wow, 18 plain glasses, she'll love that!" or "what's on sale?" ...either way, I don't need 18 glasses. I already have 18 glasses PLUS 18 wineglasses. So all the glasses I've received in the last two weeks? Either being re-gifted or added to my pile of "someday" items in my parents' basement. Perhaps registries don't always work - but I sure do wish people would embrace the idea of the gift certificate so I could go out and buy the things I really need.

Gobble, gobble.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Now Playing: Blindness

Jose Saramago's Blindness has been on my to-read / to-buy list for years now. I have put it off and put it off and put it off.. and now, I am punished, because the only copy of the book I can find has that damned movie cover on it. Bastardes!

Alright, so I went to see the movie, despite knowing that a Nobel-novel would be better. But I can only find a few words to describe it.

Intense: at moments, it felt like I was watching a really good horror movie. I wouldn't have been remotely surprised if zombies started to make their way onto the screen for all the eye-covering, cringing moments I experienced. But no. No zombies or axe-wielding murderers (gun-toting, yes - but no axes) or a good demon or two. Just human beings at their very worst.

Disturbing: I'm a Hobbesian myself - I too believe that humans are inherently evil and that all our social trappings are a mere result of selfish survival instincts. Living with a pack is easier/safer than killing everyone and trying to go it alone. This movie is all about portraying humanity with all its brutality and nastiness on full display. And that pack mentality... *shiver* ... when the King of Ward Three simply says "Women for food. Have a good day", I think you could have heard a pin drop from one theatre over. The rape scene is much talked about, with debates over intentional blurring running amock. For me? It wasn't blurred enough. Watching one women getting punched to death because she didn't "move" was enough for me.

Empty: that's how I left the theatre. The characters just didn't seem to have enough time to grow. You kept wondering "why don't you take those scissors?" "why don't you just rush the guards?" "how do the 'bad' guys all end up in Ward Three?" among other things and there's just no answer. The biggest question: what the hell happened to that guy in the car? Again, no answers - just empty miracles.

It was visceral experience, from beginning to end. At the same time, I didn't feel eviscerated when I left. It's the kind of movie I should cry in, but I didn't shed a tear. It's almost like Meirelles brought us to the precipice, made us look into the horrific abyss and then pulled back before we fell in. Some would call this "taste" - I call it cowardice.

I'm torn. I wanted to give it 4.5 stars last night as I was watching it; now, I want to punish it for not being brave enough. So, I'll do this: I give the actors (especially Mr. Bernal) 4 out of 5 stars; I'll give the plot 5 out of 5 stars; but I'll its directing/editing decisions 3 out of 5 stars. Not a movie I would recommend for a fun night at the movies.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Now Playing: Appaloosa

I’m a self-confessed hater of westerns. I think it stems back to when my dad would watch them on WUTV Saturday afternoons in the 80’s and early 90’s. God, how they made the day drag by and I forever associated westerns with boredom. Then along came No Country for Old Men and all that changed. I know, I know – that’s not a traditional western... but it opened the door and in flooded The Assassination of Jesse James, 3:10 to Yuma and There Will Be Blood (in no particular order). So, this year, when a new sheriff rode into town, I thought “what the hell” and bought my ticket for Appaloosa.

Starring Viggo Mortensen, Jeremy Irons, Renee Zellweger, and (also sitting in the director’s chair) Ed Harris, this seemed a pretty typical plotline: local bad guy (Irons, with an accent reminiscent of Daniel Day-Lewis in There Will Be Blood) terrorises the eponymous town; good guys (Harris and Mortensen) show up to lay down the law; purdy lady who may or may not be shady (Zellweger as Mrs. French (!!) ) is thrown into the mix and ... we’re off! Plot-wise, it did get a little long in the tooth, but the believable acting and neat editing made up for it. A few very minor twists kept it from being entirely predictable. I wish I could compare it to the old westerns, but I’ve forever repressed those memories. When compared to the “new” ones, it wasn’t anything special. Nothing much to really expand upon, but it was a solid movie that I probably should have just waited for on Blu-Ray. 3.5 out of 5 stars.

quintessence of tragedy

There was some doubt as to whether the annual Stratford pilgrimage would happen this year. So much had already been done in 2008 (moving into condo, cross-(western)-Canada trip, new entertainment system), it seemed a little ... shall we say, “irresponsible”, to spend even more on a weekend Stratford getaway. Then Hamlet called and, like some lovesick Ophelia, I answered. Am I ever glad I did. Thanks to Nish, who planned everything while I was in New York last month, we were able to catch both Hamlet and the final show of Euripides’ “The Trojan Women” while staying at the Ellerby B&B, with the lovely Olive as our host.

Ellerby’s was on the “other” side of the river where, in the last 10 years, we have not ventured once. At only $65/night (including a yummy breakfast, of course), it was quite the steal. We had a great room, intelligent breakfast conversation and a bathroom complete with a claw-footed bathtub. It was about a 10 minute walk from downtown and, at the other end, about 25 minutes from the Festival Theatre. The tickets were only $20/show (thank you, Play On!) and, thankfully, gas prices were low this weekend. At under $100 for the entire trip, I think it would have been irresponsible to not go.

But these are just the numbers.

What makes Stratford such a good time is, foremost, the company. Nish has been my Shakespeare wench for ten years now (with only one year missing in all of that) and I simply cannot imagine anyone else I would rather be with on these trips. When asked on Saturday by my colleagues what play I was seeing, I honestly replied, “I dunno.” Is there anyone else whom I would trust to not only choose the plays but also the seats so blindly? No. Not a single person. I know when Nish chooses a B&B, it’s both cheap and convenient; I know she’ll choose plays I too would see. (Music Man? I think not.) That’s why vacations with this girl are the most relaxing things I could possibly spend my time doing. Seriously. It’s so reassuring to know that if one were to, say, forget one’s pants, it’s not a big deal.

Secondly, I love the Stratford Festival. It’s in a great little town: not trying too hard to be “small town Ontario” (I’m looking at you NOTL); quaint enough to inspire dreams of semi-retirement and opening B&B’s of my own; full of amusing past-times, like dragon boat events and the Book Vault. The people are friendly but unobtrusive; the “locals” aren’t snotty. The plays are always of a quality I can be sure will be worth the price of admission (with few few exceptions). Plus, since we’ve been going so often, it’s a hassle-free trip, devoid of Mapquest directions and new-place anxieties. Amusing aside: during the Breast Cancer marathon, Nish says “isn’t it so different from Toronto where they close down the Gardiner? They don’t even block the street for the runners. Stratford drivers are so safe—” and then, about two metres in front of us, this pickup truck does a most illegal U-turn, right up past the grassy boulevard onto the sidewalk, almost running over a runner, who has to quickly run up onto the curb to avoid a collision. Almost in tears from laughing so hard, we decide that it’s a tourist.

Finally, let’s face it, it’s all about the plays. I’m a HUGE Willy Shakes fan to begin with and a whole festival just dedicated to him is my version of literary heaven. While there have been some letdowns (2004’s (?) Lady Macbeth had this quaver in her voice that was just terrible), my experience there has been full of memorable performances (2007’s eponymous King Lear and Othello’s Iago, are still fresh in my mind, though Richard III and Henry V were quite good as well; this year’s Hecuba is definitely up there as well). The venues are all pretty good, especially now that we know the sightlines so well in all of them. I’m always struck by the creativity of the set designers and the versatility of theses stages. This year was no disappointment: Hamlet was its usual quotable brilliance, with a notable Ophelia and Polonius; but it was the Greek tragedy that moved me to tears twice and, after ending, left me hanging for more.

I think I shall propose a Book Club by the Avon sometime in ’09. I think if we take all three rooms in Ellerby’s (comfortably 6 people), it would be a fun time had by all. And no one, I’m pretty sure, will lean over and ask, just as the play is starting: “So... what’s this all about?”

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

a muse

So... I'm having a hard time writing. I know you won't believe me, but it's true: I have nothing to say. I went to NYC last week, and so little of importance happened I couldn't write a Sexy City entry like I wanted to. I'm looking for life to amuse me again. Because, right now, it's pretty mundane. I mean, stuff happens (I bought a $6K home theatre yesterday and almost cried when the high wore off - buyer's remorse never felt so good), but nothing blogworthy, you know?

Or, if it is blogworthy, it's full of gossip and salacious rumour that I can't post without fear of Facebook reprisals, which, I'm quickly discovering, is seriously hampering my muse. Oh, she has lots to say - and I mean lots - but it's hard to write when you know the subjects of your scorn can just catch up on your Notes. So, this is it - the official disassociation from FB begins! Perhaps I can get my muse to come back now that she's not thrust into the spotlight all the time.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

the big apple bites back

In NYC for 6 days and what do I have to show for it? $86 USD, a head-cold and more alcohol in my system than I’ve ever had in my life (yes, including Frosh Week). I didn’t do any shopping (well, okay, I attempted to, but I was so hung-over, I could only drag myself down Jamaica Aveue once and picked up a sole pair of sneaks).
The wedding (and reason for the trip) was an exhausting exercise that took 4 days to complete. There was a Bachelorette party the night we arrived and that just threw my sleeping pattern right off. They got married in church on Saturday, had a house party (Indian theme = me in a sari) that night and a proper reception on Sunday night plus the bhobath on Monday afternoon. BTW, for my non-Eastern readers: bhobath literally translates for wife-rice, basically meaning that the new wife cooks a meal for her new family. These days, the wife usually just stirs the ceremonial pot of rice and everyone helps themselves. Anyway, the bhobath is also when all the gifts are opened and we “ding-ding-ding” every time there’s cash. That got old fast. By the end, we were only dinging any amounts over $100.

One thing I learned: I MUST register for any special occasion – I mean, they got four sets of wine glasses. FOUR. I don’t know from where the Anglo-Indian hangup about registering originates, but it’s stupid. What new couple needs wine glasses and vases when they’re starting out? I know it seems rude to say “cash only please” – but I do wish that people would be logical about these things and just do the right thing. Hence why you’d think that the registry is an idea that would be embraced by these people – but no. As my mother says: it sounds like you’re telling people what to give you. Well, yes. Yes I am. If they don’t like it, they can give money. Since when are useless gifts appreciated? Honestly. But this whole wedding was fraught with things we couldn’t do because of what “people” might say. For example, they had a buffet-style dinner, which is cool. So, I said that they might want to call out table numbers to eat, in order to avoid long lineups. You know what the bride tells me? There are no tables numbers... why? Because “people” will think “oh, I’m sitting at Table 7 and my sister is at table 4... they must like my sister more.” ...what. Plus, she says, we can’t call out numbers anyway – then people will say we like the numbers we call out first more than the rest. Good. Lord. And “people” wonder why I run so far away from my community.

I also ended up in an argument about Canada. When surrounded by ignorant Americans (not any other kind), I can’t help but lose my patience. The fourth person to comment about how “cold” Canada is was the unfortunate recipient of my rant. Yes, it’s cold. But it’s not like we don’t have summers (complete with a 40 degree humidex) or that we live in igloos or never wear shorts. Canada is a vast country and on any given day, you can go skiing and surfing and swimming and skating. I mean, are Alaska and Hawaii the same? Jebus. What really gets me is this is NYC. These people get snow like we do in GTA. Are they really this dumb? It makes me sad. And mad. Anyway, I am happy to be home. I missed my shower and my bed and the clean streets of Canada (a stereotype that does seem to ring true). I’m looking forward to eight hours of sleep and eating without rinsing my cutlery first. New York City is a fabulous place to visit, but there’s nothing like coming home.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

in a new york minute

Bright lights, big city! ...well, yes, I will be biting the Big Apple this week, but hardly doing anything of note. There are many things I've wanted to do in NYC (catch a Broadway play, window shop on Fifth Ave, go to the top of the Empire State Building) and I will be doing none of those over the next 6 days. That's right, none. So, what does call me to Gotham? My cousin's wedding. A four-day affair that involves five outfits, an open bar and a very permissive atmosphere. Good times!

In other news, yesterday my manager told me to stop working so hard and to slow down because she can't keep up. I've taken this to mean that I should blog on work time. Perhaps even edit a certain novella. Apparently I'm too fast for these people. I need to work in corporation where, yes everything I do really only helps some fat cat get fatter but, at least, I get a bonus for being quick/productive/efficient. This may also be an excellent time to ask for a compressed work week - you know, work four days instead of five. Since I am fast and all that. Is it really a tragedy that I can get things done in a New York minute?

Anyway, poppets - have a great week. See you on the other side.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Now Playing: Burn After Reading

I settled down for a comedy - I got a dark noir-ish macabre piece of theatre that actually had me laughing at fatalities and snickering at adultery. _________ and _________ using a simple machine known as a wedge? *giggle* _________ getting shot in the head? *LOL* Yeah, okay, let me back it up.

Plot: adultery and espionage in a modern age. It's true. That's what it's about. Enter Harry Pfarrer (Clooney, surprisingly non-irritating) who is married to Sandy (Marvel) but who is sleeping with Katie Cox (Swinton, her usual awesome self) who, in turn, is married to Osborne Cox (Malkovich, can anyone play angry like this man can?) who, himself, has just been fired from the CIA for an alleged drinking problem. He has decided to write a tell-all "mem-mwah", which ends up on a CD that Katie's lawyer's secretary loses at a gym and is picked by Linda Litzke (McDormand, fabulous) and her bff Chad Felheimer (Pitt in a great comic turn), who then decide to blackmail Osborne in order to cash in the secrets. Mayhem and hijinks ensue. ...Aaaaand that's the first 20 minutes. What follows is some of the funniest plot twists I've seen in a long time. J.K. Simmons has a wonderful dual-cameo as well.

I can't talk much more about the film without talking about its plot. And since I abhor spoilers, I won't go into that anymore. If you're looking for intelligent comedy (this is no Pineapple Express) and you're not offended by violence (hatchet to the head, anyone? anyone?) - check out Burn After Reading. 4 out of 5 stars.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

material/men

We are living in a material world, and yes, I am a material girl. As long as the material is a floor-length Chinese black silk number with pewter-silver embossed dragons and silver inner-lining. I won't appreciate gingham. You know, not all materials is the same. Perhaps if I were appreciative of just any kind of material, I wouldn't be considered so high-maintenance. Perhaps not. What I do know is that my standards for men is much like my standard for things: I am bloody picky. This has been demonstrated emphatically in the last few days through various conversations with various people. Much like my search for the perfect couch and the perfect night gown, the search for the perfect boy is proving a test of my patience. So far, I've compiled a list of things for which I didn't realise I was looking.

1) Politics can make or break us. Sure, he's tall, blond, attractive, gainfully employed, lives on his own WITH a car and we have similar geeking interests. But he's going to vote conservative in the next election and I just can't reconcile with that. I mean, he supports a two-tier health-care system and is opposed to a gun registry! I can't possibly date this guy for more that two weeks without having an explosive fight. And then he'd probably change his mind about that registry.

2) Age does matter. Yeah, I know, he's sweet and cute and has a certain charisma about him. He likes cake, makes French history puns and laughs at my wit. But he's 22. TWENTY-TWO. That's barely above the half-plus-seven rule, and it shows. The wearing of the hat all the way through dinner (sideways to boot)? No. Just... no. I'm looking at RRSPs and going back to school; he's looking at paying off student debts and graduating for the first time. *sigh*

3) The wittiest banter I have is with gay boys. Yes, I get along best with them. They're kind, supportive and find ways to tell me I look fat in an outfit without shredding my ego. We have candy-floss conversations and hard-core debates. We're politically like-minded. Dammit - we just have the wrong functioning parts!

4) Hell hath no fury like Dizzy scorned. Well, that's an overstatement. It's more like this: if you hurt my feelings (and I mean really hurt my feelings) I'm never going to get over it. Ever. This is not to say I can't get over blow-out fights or anything - I sure can (as JC can attest to with numerous examples). It's just that there are some things I'll never get over. Is there a comprehensive list? Unfortunately, no. I'm quickly learning that things I thought I'd never forgive seem more easily done than things I thought I'd get over. The common theme does seem to be this: if I've ever been made to feel embarrassed, you're never going claw your way out of that hole.

5) I don't understand casual dating. In fact, I get bored with it. So, if I think we're going to have irreconcilable differences, we're probably never going to have a second date. Yes, I know, you shouldn't be marrying after your first date - but if you think you'll never marry a guy after the first date, is it worth wasting your time on a second? Probably it is - because first impressions shouldn't be your only impressions. I've just never been motivated enough to test that axiom.

...in the end, I know I come up with some really lame excuses ("he's a Conservative" is my latest favourite). But I'm pretty happy with my life right now. I should probably feel more lonely than I am, but I just don't. I can't help it. I'm not unhappy being single! I'm not happy either, but I'm in a middling "content" zone. Perhaps I don't have enough free time to sit and contemplate these things - and you know what happens when I sit and think. It's dangerous. Do I want to have a significant other? Yes, absolutely. Do I need one? No, not at all.

Like receiving gifts, I'm always leery of things of an intensely personal nature: perfume, clothing, art. You have to really know a person - REALLY know them - to be right about these things. It's not that I don't appreciate the gifts, but if they're not the kind of bottles I like, the kind of books I read, the kind of music/art I appreciate... it's just going to be regifted. I don't want to smell like just anything - I have a certain scent and that's what fits me. Like boys. I don't want just any near-perfect-on-paper man - I want someone who'll actually inspire me to think they're worth dating off-the-list. I am picky, no doubt. But in the end, I guess I think that if I can think it, it must exist. The perfect couch, the perfect mate ... yep, if I look long enough, hard enough, I'll find what I want.

...right?

Sunday, September 07, 2008

this time 'round

Things I miss:
1) books that have gone missing (where art thou?)
2) internet
3) my best friend living up the street
4) Professor's Lobb's English classes

Things I don't miss:
1) playing second fiddle to the second sibling
2) "sharing" (the driveway, the bathrooms, the TV...)
3) starvation/hypothermia

this time 'round, it's better.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

bare floors

I underestimated the feel of bare floors on the soles of my feet.

Last night, I broke down the last cardboard box and threw it in the garbage. Sure, there's plenty of stuff still left to hang (framed poems, postcard art, ornate daggers, candelabras) but I had put away all my cut-glass bottles, books and stone gargoyles. I had vacuumed any remaining cement dust out of corners and from behind hinges; I had wiped off the counter top and dusted the furniture; I had put everything in its place. Then I just stood there, the wood warming under my feet, smooth and hard. I looked at the yellow light spilling from behind my cream lamp shades onto my cornmeal walls, the gauze curtains shifting slightly in the post-midnight summer breeze, the clean glasses twinkling on my mosaic granite countertops. My books were resting comfortably behind the glass doors of their shelves; my laptop hummed Massive Attack softly. For a moment, a split second I felt it: home. I can't really describe it... it was like a split-second quickening in my stomach and rush of dim electricity on my heels. For just an instant, I could see clearly all the good things that would happen here: parties, Book Club meetings, movie marathons, board game nights, Survivor finale feasts, late nights with Thai food in takeout containers, baking Christmas cookies, reading books, watching TV, falling asleep on the sofa... Yes, for a moment I forgot all about the construction that still lay ahead and the cabling that still needed to be laid and the months of "breaking in" this new structure still had to endure before it finally settled. But it didn't matter. I was home. My home.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Now Playing: Traitor

What with no TV and no Internet in the house, I find the temptation of a movie theatre across the street to be too much for me. Last night, I went to see Traitor (starring Don Cheadle, Guy Pearce and Said Taghmaoui), a movie I honestly had no idea as to what the plot was, who was in it or even the genre to which it belonged.

Well. That was wonderful surprise.

Plot: The story follows Samir, a Sudanese-born American who has a talent for building bombs. I won't say anything else, because, really, the slow unravelling of Samir's character is what makes this movie tick. A bit slow to start, it revs right up - getting to a point where, upon the death of a character, I actually started muttering "oh no, oh no" to myself. It's a story with clear-cut bad guys, shaded in spectrum of grey that leaves us feeling sympathy and hatred for all the people we never expected to like or even admire.

The acting is excellent - Cheadle is his usual amazing self (this seems to be an apt followup to Hotel Rwanda and Crash), showing some real linguistic versatility. Guy Pearce was a surprisingly capable foil to Cheadle's character. But the man who stole the show for me was Taghmaoui: he delivered a subtly nuanced and intricately faceted performance that simply catapulted off the screen. He, alone, was worth the price of admission. A well-deserved 4 out of 5 stars.

Welcome Awards season, poppets. And it's not even September yet.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Now Playing: Death Race

Ahh, mindless action movies... isn't this what Summer is all about? It was a toss-up between this movie and Wall-E (which has been getting rave reviews, but is still a kid's movie and, really, I'm just not that into them). It was an uneventful Sunday night and I had spent the day working (both paid and not) so I thought, what the hell, let's go munch some popcorn.

Enter, Death Race.

Plot? Well, it's a bit thin and full of suspension-of-disbelief moments. But no one's coming here for the plot. There are only two things that matter in a good summer action flick: hot cast and cool effects. So.

Cool Effects: they did a good job of making the CGI look real (even though physics was bent at every turn) and it had some pretty cool wtf moments.

Hot Cast: Joan Allen is fab as the ice queen prison warden/CEO. Really. It was so much fun to watch her unravel near the end. Supporting cast wasn't bad either. I was looking forward to Ian McShane and he didn't disappoint (yes, I will always think of him as Swearengen and yes, I think he's a very good-looking man, if a little old).

But oh, poppets, this movie was all about the drooltastic Jason Statham.

I've only seen him in two other movies: The Italian Job (where he stayed disappointingly covered up) and In the Name of the King (eww, Uwe). So let us take a moment to indulge in some sighing and squirming. It starts with a scene in some future-foundry where there's lots of sweat and heat. You only see glimpses of JS's hotness, and that in shadow. Then there's a shirt-off moment, but he's wearing a white singlet. It's not until the chin-ups in the prison that we see the sexiest back I've ever had the pleasure of feasting on. And they really allowed us to feast, with a solid 20 seconds of nothing but JS and his ridiculous back. You know what makes him that extra bit sex-ay? He's not all steroid-pumped and muscle-bound... oh no, he's lean and mean and then, he does a chin-up *melt*

This movie probably only deserves a 2.5 out of 5 stars, (it was entertaining) but I'm laying my cards on the table. For JS's yummilicious back alone, I give it 3.5 stars out of 5.

PS: it's not that I didn't want a poster of Death race, I just couldn't readily find one. No matter. Gorge on JS goodness.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

the interchangability of lights and trains

Having no internet at home has really tested my patience, but I think I see a light at the end of the tunnel! Yes, indeed, if we keep up this pace, we may even have little Timmy come to his new home on my desk by the week's end. Last night (around midnight) I FINALLY put up curtains in my bedroom (and this morning I got to sleep past sunrise). I've also finished the kitchen and bathroom. Now, Only a few brackets and couple of floating shelves stand in the way of unpacking my 700* books. The "condo" is starting to feel like home. If I'm a very good DissolvedGirl, I may even reward myself with a TV in October, but we'll see. Until I have a "normal" life (i.e. no more random trips to IKEA or Home Depot), I'm afraid my updating shall continue to be sporadic and boring.

tidbits from the last week:
- Moving 7 kms can make my Car Insurance premium go up by $500/year. wtf.
- People DO find reading sexy: "Rico" asked me for book recommendations and then said he'd email me his. AND he knows how very old I am. Who knew?
- It only takes me EIGHT minutes to walk to work. LOVE it.
- I own a jacket from a mystical magical shop in Camden that no one else can find. I feel special.
- I can go 4 days without checking my email, and then, like a junkie, I go on an internet binge by checking email / RSS feeds, updating facebook / blog and reading 700 million articles / comics / blogs. It's obviously best I have low dosages instead. I shall be calling Rogers next week.

Poppets! I love you and I miss you. Drop me a line; show me I haven't lost you forever!

*That's right, 700. I've effectively weeded almost 600 books from my collection.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

28 days

It's been 28 days since I moved my stuff from the 'rentals place to the condo. Its' weird, because now neither of these are "home" to me. Don't get me wrong - I still walk into my mother's kitchen whenever I like and there's always a plate of food for me. And I've been sleeping in my very own princess bed for a while now, after breaking it in good and proper. But I still never say "I'm going home" ...

So, what's in the way? Well, for one thing, my bookshelves are being very stubborn. Even after learning how to use a hammerdrill (my god, the power!), I'm still down to empty shelves. I still have no curtains and am awakened by sunrise far too early. I still have no bathroom cabinet as I've been waiting on someone else to take care of something I should have just done myself. I'm still waiting to go "home" and not just to box-laden condo that doesn't seem very homey. I'm really hoping that by the time I see the next full moon, I will be sitting on my balcony, sipping a glass of wine, instead of crying over a slightly uneven floor that makes my shelf tip whenever I open the glass doors. But, I have learned that my best laid plans are always foiled.

Thrown into this mix is a tiny bit of depressing news - I'm losing my licence plate. Due to Ontario's plate-to-driver policy, when my dad officially "sells" me my car (which I bought over 5 years ago), the plate will have to revert back to him. Sad :( This means a whole new plate. Perhaps a vanity plate? I've always liked that notion.

On a bright note: this weekend saw me cook my first proper meal (Whole Wheat Pasta with Tomato-Basil-Mushroom sauce). We take what we can get, yes?

Now Playing:Tropic Thunder

So, here's how big the rock I live under is: when I watched the trailer for Tropic Thunder, I didn't recognise Robert Downey Jr. Like, at all. I kept thinking "where have I seen this guy before?" I don't usually watch comedies in theatre - I find it a waste of my cheap movie passes. Most comedies can wait until they come out on DVD. The decision to watch TT was a last-minute "what do you want to do" decision (living across the street from Coliseum helps in these times). I didn't mind too much, however, since there was quite a lot of special effects and sweeping jungle scenes.

Casting was great - Jack Black makes a great proposition but it's his delivery that makes it hilarious; RDJr is his usual fab self; Nick Nolte was a nice surprise. But really, it was Les Grossman who stole the show. Considering who plays Mr. Grossman, I was shocked to actually laugh at the performance as much as I did. I won't spoil it for you as it was for me, but if you don't already know, try not to find out before you actually see it on screen.

Needless to say, the whole blackface thing was played so brilliantly, it didn't once seem offensive or exploitive; it was, in fact, addressed in one of the funniest exchanges I've seen on-screen. Let's face it: any scene ending in one person hopping away imitating a kangaroo has to elicit at least a chuckle. Also: "you never go full retard" - gold.

I don't know if I would give up my no-comedy-in-theatre stance wholly, but I am glad I watched the movie. For a comedy, it's one of the best I've seen yet. 4 out of 5 stars.