Tuesday, April 30, 2013

the briars

 In a complete turnabout from where I was the weekend prior, last weekend was spent at The Briars Resort & Spa. It’s a great getaway on the shores of Lake Simcoe, where you can golf, bike, swim, and hike to your heart’s content. I went with three friends (with whom I also happen to work) – I had travelled to Cuba with two of them, so I knew it was going to be a good time.

We got there Friday afternoon, after a leisurely drive up Woodbine Ave. Our ground floor room faced the lake and was conveniently situated across from the indoor hot tub/pool, next door to the bar and about thirty seconds from the restaurant. I recommend the Leacock Wing. Had a good walk about the ground before dinner, which was (and every meal, really) amazing. We wrapped up the evening learning euchre and playing hearts.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013


Last week, I spent eight days exploring the Golden Triangle of India (mostly from the comfort of an air-conditioned bus). It was a whirlwind affair, with quick stops in Delhi, Jaipur and Agra. Much like a buffet, we sampled delicacies in bite-size offerings and still came away full. Travelling companions Jadek, Nish and MrsC were good company, as were new travel-mate friends.

I was pretty sick before leaving, so the flight over is a blur of antibiotics and pain meds. I really thought I had irreparable damage to my hearing (especially since it took a full two days before my ears popped). I do remember the food being good and Jadek being an excellent pillow.

Within about twenty minutes of being out of the Indira Gandhi International Airport, Jadek had already relinquished his luggage to a non-Indus Crew member. We learned quickly: everyone is out to make a buck in India. And I mean everyone. From tuktuk drivers to street peddlers, from legit state emporium stores to our very own tour guide – it was, as my parents would say, a moneymaking racket. However – for the price we paid to go over ($2350!), I couldn’t have reproduced that trip. Heck, I could barely get a flight and a hotel for that. So, there we were, ready to embark on our very first “canned” tour.

Everyone asks for the highlights.  It's difficult to pick, really.  But, here goes.

Monday, April 22, 2013

taj mahal

Should guilty seek asylum here,
Like one pardoned, he becomes free from sin.
Should a sinner make his way to this mansion,
All his past sins are to be washed away.
The sight of this mansion creates sorrowing sighs;
And the sun and the moon shed tears from their eyes.
In this world this edifice has been made;
To display thereby the creator's glory.

Tuesday, April 09, 2013

passage to india

In less than 48 hours, I will be winging my way back, back, back to the near-motherland: India.  The golden triangle in specific, which includes Delhi, Jaipur, and Agra.  I know this seems crazy, but I've only spent two nights in the country that neighboured by birth land (n Calcutta, no less).  It will be whirlwind, a mere eight days (for 36 hours flight time, that seems insane, but there you have it).  As is tradition, I have brought myself down with cough and relentless fever.  So, I haven't packed or done anything except secure my visa and my inoculations.  I intend to spent the next 45-hours-and-counting drinking soup and sleeping.

Am I excited?  Yes.  It's been bucket-list item of mine to see the Taj Mahal.  Everything else is cherries.
The Golden Triangle

Also, nervous. 

Monday, April 08, 2013

Now Playing: Oz, the Great and Powerful

I’m not entirely certain why it took us three weeks to get to Oz the Great and Powerful but there you have it. After frolicking bunnies and resurrected hippies, Easter Monday saw us back in the theatre. We had taken so long, that we were relegated to the smallest screen at the multiplex.

A word of advice: if you haven’t watched The Wizard of Oz, you should. As Jadek can attest, half the movie’s suspense and drive comes from the watching the 1939 classic. So, once you ‘ve watched that, you’re good to go.

I liked the homages to the original (starting out in black-and-white, going from mono to full-on digital audio, the gingham and the bubbles) and I really liked the “twists” in the story. What I loved was the constant lookout for a certain green-skinned lady: she doesn’t show up for a while and when she does… boy, was I surprised. The one thing I didn't ever understand about Oz is this: why put this inept man in charge of Oz when there's a perfectly good Glinda around?

Well shot, well-paced, well-acted, and well worth your money. I’d go see it. 3.5 out of 5 stars.

Sunday, April 07, 2013

Now Playing: G.I. Joe: Retaliation

Good Friday is a solemn day for many; what better way to spend it than to watch a shoot-em-up based on a Saturday morning cartoon of my youth? Truthfully, the place was packed – what with most useful things being closed, thankfully, movie theatres were wide open (are they the only non-essential institution now open year-round, no exceptions?). So, we bought our tickets for G.I. Joe: Retaliation.

Before the movie started, I shared with Jadek that we should have perhaps rewatched the original. Good thing I didn’t: after reading my thoughts on the first one, it may have tainted my enjoyment of the second one. And enjoy it, I did. The one thing this franchise seems to have going for it a nice blend realism and cartoonery. I mean, yes, everyone in this movie is impossibly beautiful (Adrianne Palicki’s Lady Jaye is bang-on and I can’t think of anyone better to play Roadblock than Dwayne Johnson and the action scenes are over-the-top, but somehow they stay on this side of fantasy.

Speaking of action – hoo-wee! That scene on the side of the mountain – and seriously, the price of admission is worth this one scene alone – is intense. It’s the only action scene I can recall at this moment that don’t need to hide the wires attached to the stunt crew. In fact, the wires are essential. It was stellar. Right up there with Nolan’s rotating hallway and the Wachowski’s bullet time.

So, if you like cartoons or action movies, you’ll enjoy this. 3 out of 5 stars.

PS: spoiler!