Monday, October 31, 2011

vicarious loss

Last week, I received a mass-BCC email.  When I opened it, I didn't even understand what I was reading at first.  I must have read it at least four times before it sunk in.  I am not prepared for this, the death of my friend's mother.  I'm just getting used to grandparents dying with alarming frequency; my uncle Len's passing earlier this year broached that invisible generational line.  Upon the fifth reading, it finally sunk in that the funeral was the next day and that, yes, she was only 55.

Honestly, I didn't know what to do.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

twelfth annual fright fest

On this year's docket: two sequels and a foreign film (what does this say about the American horror-wood?)

Rec 2: the original is still in top ten scary movies of all time.  Twisting plot, creepy cinematography, perfect ratio of loud and quiet moments.  Do not be sucked in by the US remake; watch the original.  Having been foiled once already, I had been looking forward to seeing how they would wrap up the original.  I must say, I was a wee bit disappointed.  The characters weren't nearly as likeable (I was rooting for those teenagers to die) and the plot took a crazy turn and I was left wondering if I was even watching the same franchise.  Not necessary to watch this in order to really enjoy Rec.

Friday, October 28, 2011

full circle

Last year, a dozen yellow roses signalled the beginning of a new relationship.  Though, it wasn't new at all - we'd dated before, we'd broken up like seven times, we haven't stopped being in each other's lives since we met (officially) over a dusty bank of computer monitors more than thirteen years ago.  This time, I think, we did the mature thing: laid our cards out right at the beginning, no games, no coy suggestions.  This time, I think, we did it right.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins

The third instalment, devoured in 72 hours flat, of the Hunger Games trilogy: Mockingjay.  A perfect example of the imperfect endings of real life. Seriously, you need to read this trilogy.  Like, now.


Katniss - boy, is she flawed.  And I like that Collins is not afraid to show it.  That conversation between Peeta an Gale on page 328?  I can't imagine it ever happening between two men given the situation they're in - but I do appreciate the candid assessment of the Mockingjay.  I find her selfish, easily addicted and generally morose.  I guess the parallel story is that of her on-TV personality which is what the people fell in love with and who the people decided to follow.  Had the public seen her meltdowns and general apathy, would they have loved her?  I didn't.  In fact, I always thought it shouldn't have been her at all.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins

Wow.  I haven't done this is in a very long time.  I actually stayed up all night reading.  That's right: all.  night.  There is definitely something to be said about plot-driven novels.  They're intense, suspenseful and downright gut-wrenching.  Not to say that there is no character development to be found in Collins' work - there is, certainly!  I think, however, it's the plot that propels us through it.  By the time I got to the end of Catching Fire, I was almost rabid for the third instalment; it wasn't until I turned off my beside lamp that I realised it was well past sunrise; my alarm ten minutes later confirmed it.  And you know what, poppets?  It was all worth it.  I look forward to Mockingjay.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Fool by Christopher Moore

I read Fool in record time - just under 2 days!  I won't make it a long review, as my feelings for Christopher Moore are widely known.  Suffice it to say that if you're looking for a faithful rewriting of Shakespeare's King Lear, look elsewhere.  If you're looking for a serious post-modern retelling, look elsewhere.  Hell, if you're hoping that these intense characters will not be fucked with sideways and left bewildered by the shagging, that the historical context will be coherent or that even the story begins and ends the same... well, don't pick up this book.  This is a complete departure from the original play, with heroes becoming villains, extra characters appearing, entire plotlines added and best/worst of all, a copious amount of cursing.  This is an absolute romp!  I giggled and winced and wholeheartedly enjoyed myself through it all.  The word "irreverent" doesn't even begin to cover it.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

massive love affair

There have been very few bands that have completely changed my life.  I will be the first to admit that I'm not an audiophile.  I listen to one radio station in the car, I own a dozen or so CDs, and I can't name anything new or hip.  I like dancing and I like music, but I'm not an aficionado by any stretch.  I like what I like and I LOVE Massive Attack.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Now Playing: Moneyball

Can you make a baseball movie thrilling?  Yes, I think we've proven that before.  So, what does Moneyball bring to the table that hasn't already been done?  Hard to say.

Here's the thing: I got a FB message from DK asking if I wanted to see either 50/50 or Ides of March.  Well, umm, I'd already caught both, so that left Moneyball.  In a bid that proves just how easy I am, I said okay.  After a delightful Thanksgiving brunch at Whole Foods, we settled into the movie.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Now Playing: Real Steel

Sunday is dedicated homework day for this semester and, as a reward for finishing all our work, we went to see a lovely little family flick about rock-'em-sock-'em robots called Real Steel.  Yeah, I know what you're thinking: can song-and-dance man Hugh Jackman really pull off ex-boxer?  and can Evangeline Lilly really play anyone but Kate?  Okay, maybe you're not thinking either of those things, but that's what I was thinking for sure.

Anyway, the answers are Yes and Kinda, respectively.  Jackman could probably sell sand in a desert and his leftover Wolverine muscles don't hurt the cause.  Lilly plays Bailey, who is what Kate could have been had she not had a number attached to her by an island.  They're both passable.  It's Dakota Goyo, fellow Canadian and all-round adorable sass-mouth, that is the real star of the movie.  he's likeable, believable and downright adoptable.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Now Playing: Ides of March

In order to avoid being stuck at home with a bunch of drunk old people, LilBro, Jadek and I took shelter at a local movie theatre and watched The Ides of March.   I didn't really know what the expect from this movie, since I had only watched one trailer.  But, given my newly buried hatchet with Mr. Clooney and the alternative of group singing "Take the Ribbon from your Hair", I thought "what the heck!"

Tuesday, October 11, 2011


My parents celebrated their 33rd anniversary this weekend.  Christ himself didn't last much past this milestone.  I'm always awed by how much more in love my parents seem than when I was growing up.  Is it because they're less stressed out by their kids?  Their jobs?  Is it because my mom is over the worst part of menopause?  That my dad has totally mellowed in old age?  Is it me?  Am I just better at seeing them as humans and not prison guards?

Monday, October 10, 2011

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

Here's how I came about reading The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins:

On a beautiful morning in Stratford, walking through the non-chain book stores, VeCe looks at me all incredulous that I haven't read this book - just read the first page,she says, and you won't be able to stop.  I do and it's okay so I buy it.  Two weeks later, Jadek is asking me what he should read on the R66 trip and, being a good librarian girlfriend, I open my own shelves and hand this one over.  I convince him it's really good, even though I've only read the first chapter.  He finishes it and gives it back with glowing reviews.  I mean, he goes out and buys the trilogy in hardcover... that's commitment!  Two week after that and we're discussing a October's Book Club pick , trying to find something Halloween-themed but that isn't horror (our newest member was a bit squeamish and we didn't want to scare her away).  We settle on Hunger Games.  luckily, I had just finished my last book so I could get started.  Four days later, I was finished.  Poppets, you know how long it takes for me finish a book.  That should be testimonial in and of itself; but, in case it isn't....

Sunday, October 09, 2011

Now Playing: 50/50

Normally I don’t watch comedies in theatres, especially if they star Seth Rogen.  I think comedies are natural rentals.  I do make the occasional exception, however, and anything with the fantastic JGL certainly warrants that.  Enter, 50/50 – a story about a young man who gets diagnosed with cancer and how he deals with it.  Potentially very depressing stuff.  It’s a real credit to the scriptwriters and the acting team that they deal with the anger, horror and incredible unfairness of it all while still maintaining a realistic humour.  Anna Kendrick is the quiet scene-stealer as is Bryce Dallas Howard who plays reprehensible with great panache.  JGL is his usual thumbs-up and Rogen is his usual crazy.  But you know who got me? Angelica Huston.  We need more of her in movies.

I think it’s still a good rental movie but also feel good about supporting it in theatres.  4 out of 5 stars.

Saturday, October 08, 2011

book fest

A mere four months into my new manager-ship, my boss says to me “I think you would be the perfect person to take on the annual literary festival” – by which, of course, she meant that “no one else wants to go through that hell again and, being lowest on the totem pole, you’re it, kiddo” … yikes.  There is no doubt in my head that the first emotion I felt upon that pronouncement was, well, fear.  I didn’t even know how to do anything in my own department yet, forget taking on a huge system-wide event.  An event that would soon be linked with the national Culture Days movement.  An event that, despite the best of intentions always seems to be a lot of work for very little recognition.  Double yikes.  But what does one say to one’s boss in this situation?  The only thing there is to say: “sure!”

Fast forward three months and we’ve got a newly christened event (the more casual and family-friendly “Book Fest” replaces the rather snobby “Literary Festival”) in a new venue (home turf!) with a new way of doing things.  As usual, my motto of “go big or go home” is the driving force behind all my planning.  The building we’re hosting the event in is turning 20 years old this year, so I went with a birthday theme.  Here’s some of what went down:
  • Three different tours are offered as part of our Doors Open commitment.
  • Fifteen local authors set up tables and mingled with each other and the public
  • Twenty exhibitors, from Anime Clubs to publishers, lined the atrium
  • A huge Book Sale doubled as a fundraiser for the library
  • Storytimes were held every half-hour
  • 20 book trucks were decorated and paraded around the brand new Celebration Square
  • An edible display of a 135-pound birthday cake and 499 cupcakes was wheeled out and thousand-plus people sing Happy Birthday to the Library.
  • The mayor says some very kind words and cuts the cake
  • Jeremy Tankard wraps it all up with a great talk to 150+ kids.
I was so exhausted after it all, I actually went to bed at 1800, woke up around 2030 for some soup and went back to bed.  I spent most of Sunday napping, reading and doing homework.

I took Monday off but I can’t help check my work emails – thankfully they’re full of congratulations.  My only worry now is that I’ll be asked to do it all over again next year.  At first, all I can think is "no thank you!"; now that it's a few days past, however, I'm thinking "why not?"

Friday, October 07, 2011

back to school

I don’t know what possessed me.  I mean, I’m busy enough with work and friends and family and a boyfriend.  I think I was just feeling a little intellectually… atrophied.  My job is challenging but it isn’t exactly rocket science.  Worse, I don’t seem to be able to use analytical and problem-solving skills enough to keep them sharp.  I needed…more.

So, now, on Thursday evenings I find myself in a building that’s like a bizarro version of my high school sitting in an accounting class.  That’s right, accounting.  Whenever I’d say that I’m going back to school, people would ask me (all excited) “ooohhh, what for?” and I (equally excited) would answer, “accounting” and, inevitably, the look of puzzlement crossed their face.  Yes.  Accounting.  I feel like my love for numbers and money has been seriously ignored these past few years.  I mean, the “budget” at work consists of staying under 100%; they don’t even give me real numbers.  Yawn. 

Thursday, October 06, 2011

Route 66

I returned from the Route 66 trip on September 11th and I'm only just getting to post about it now.  Many apologies poppets.  A number of things conspired to keep me from you - Book Fest, Accounting, Work and mundane things like cleaning the bathroom.  Here follows a brief breakdown of the highs and lows that was The Mother Road.

Day One: Mississauga to Buffalo to Chicago (by road and then air)
AnCe, Jadek and myself climb into AnCe's car and make our way to Buffalo, where we catch our half-price plane to Chicago.  It's amazing to me that the 40 minute drive has us $300.  Each.  I LOVE my hometown, where if I fly straight home, I'm in my PJ's within 30 minutes of landing (with no connections!) and where, if I'm being cheap, I can cross the US border and catch a plane to anywhere in the States for half the price.  Anyway, we land in Chicago (I marvel at how, really, all airports look exactly the same) and are reunited with Nish, who had landed the day previous, coming from Madagascar (!!).

Day Two: wander around the beautiful Bean Town, with its amazing architecture and yummy food.  Th boat ride is a great way to explore the City.  We pick up our car rental (Nissan Rogue) after almost ninety minutes waiting for it.  At least we get a $250 "discount" (i.e. we're not charged for the extra two drivers).

The Bean (or Cloud Gate)
Day Three: early start to see the Bean (aka Cloud Gate) in Millennium Park.  I absolutely LOVE it.  I want to take it home as a souvenir and plonk it down in the Commons near my house.  Alas.  We pack the car and begin the search for the official beginning of Route 66; after 45 minutes (!!) of driving in circles we find it... barred from access by construction.  I laugh so hard I'm easily crying.  We do find a historical marker as a substitute, so that works out.  Today's final goal is Marshfield, Missouri by way of Lincoln's tomb.  849 kms later, we're there - after 2200 hours.  We also learn the Pontiac lesson today: do not trust any R66 signs that have dates - these are merely senseless detours.

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

The Help by Kathryn Stockett

I had to take a book with me on Route 66 and I chose to bring along Kathryn Stockett's The Help.  Did I read it at all while on the Mother Road?  Hellz no.  What with the average 5 hours of sleep per night and the thousand kilometres of driving a day, let's just say that sleep trumped all other basic needs.

So I read this in the comfort of my bed at home over the entire month of September, with some guilt.  See, September's Book Club was a non-fiction selection of our choosing, as long as it answered the question of "why is the world the way it is" in some fashion.  I totally cheated and read the Philosophy chapters in An Incomplete Education instead.  (it is how I got by at Queen's and it's still how I maintain a my thin veneer of sophistication).

The other major impetus for reading the books was the fact that I wanted to see the movie and I hate reading books after I see the flick.

Anyway!  The Help.  Spoilers abound below, so take heed.

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Now Playing: Drive

A quick movie review for Drive: it was okay.  Ryan Gosling is always great, but even he can't hold up an entire movie.  It's not that the premise couldn't work - it could; somehow it just doesn't.  Gosling's Driver seems so ... cold and remote.  it's very difficult to see him caring about anyone or anything enough to get all wrapped up in the stuff he ends up getting wrapped up in.  There are some great sequences too: that pawn shop heist?  awesome!  And, as I would expect from a movie called Drive, the driving is particularly well done.  And on real streets with very real cars... I kinda love that.  Should you watch it?  Sure, as a rental it may not be bad at all.  I expect this will end up on Netflix and that would be best.  3 out of 5 stars.

Monday, October 03, 2011

Now Playing: Contagion

The day after I came home from the Route 66 Road Trip Extravaganza, I took in Contagion with Jadek.  Honestly, it was pretty amazing.  Steven Soderberg always surprises me with his pacing and storytelling skills.  And with a cast like it had, it's not a surprise that the acting was superb: Winslet's clinical front-line specialist, Law's questionable blogger, Cotillard's conflicted negotiator... all really good.
Really, though, the best part is the execution of the pandemic.  How it's the mundane things that will get us in the end - handshakes and kisses, elevator buttons and stair rails.  The quick decline of civility when you know it's got to be you or them, your kid or theirs.  I liked that the script didn't degenerate into a horror movie, but still kept intact the horror of humans going feral.  And I really enjoyed the realistic timeline of it all - no post-apocalyptic swelling of music or dystopian all-is-well - that leads us back to Day One.  I spent the entire movie asking "how" and I'm really happy to report that there is an answer.  Did I like it?  Will you?  You'll have to watch the movie to find out.