Category Archives: entertainment

Seven Quick Takes – Who loves ya’?

Seven Quick Takes Friday

  1. I have to admit that after 30 years of marriage, Valentine’s Day has something of a been-there-done-that feel to it. We love each other madly, but really don’t need a day to revel in it more than we normally do. But here’s a shot from a year or so after we were married and spent six weeks in France and England. On the left is Zouheir’s younger brother.

    Jacques, me, Zouheir. Christmas 1984. Villeneuve-le-Roi, France
    Jacques, me, Zouheir. Christmas 1984. Villeneuve-le-Roi, France
  2. I’ve successfully found a home for the memorial cards I blogged about a few weeks ago. The contact I made through ancestry.ca resulted in a referral to a granddaughter of Samuel, one of the younger siblings of the deceased children. He moved with his wife to Winnipeg MB in 1915 and his granddaughter lives on the west coast. I’ve popped the cards into the mail for her.
  3. Last week, I booked a table at a downtown resto for tonight through the Opentable system. Earlier this week, I got a message from them saying that we were seated in the bar, there were no more spots in the dining room, and that we were limited to an hour and a half as they needed the table. I cancelled. And tweeted about it. The restaurant replied to my tweet saying “sorry for the confusion, it’s just an estimate for 2ppl that we try to communicate. You can take as long as you want.” Sorry. Too little too late. Sadly, i’m sure they’ll be fully booked tonight and really don’t care.
  4. We’re seeing Heartbeat of Home, part of the Mirvish subscription series, tomorrow night. This is not something I would buy single tickets for, but Richard Ouzounian gave it 4/4 stars so we’ll see what all the fuss is about. We’ve booked a table at Portico before, a new restaurant (to us).
  5. I’ve made contact with another branch of my ancestry! My maternal grandmother was a Goddard, and thanks to the intrepid work of members of the Goddard Association of Europe, I have connected with a third cousin who is a sheep farmer in northern Ontario (near New Liskeard.) My second great grandfather William and his great-grandfather John both emigrated to Ontario from Kent in the UK around 1870. The children of Willam came south to Toronto and his grandfather John Jr. went north to Temiskaming. Very exciting! We’re hoping to meet up sometime in March when he’s passing through Toronto.

    Great-grandmother Minnie, Grandmother Daisy, Great Uncle Percy, Great Grandfather Stephen
    My Goddard ancestors: Great-grandmother Minnie (Price), Grandmother Daisy, Great Uncle Percy, Great Grandfather Stephen
  6. House of Cards season 2 is now available on Netflix. This may be our Valentine’s Day watching tonight. Yesterday, President Obama tweeted

    Here’s the trailer for the new season:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gBabKoHSErI

  7. I’m still loving my Bulletproof Coffee every morning. Check it out if you’re looking for a way to feel energized and productive. I’m gonna post more on this topic soon.

Lots more Seven Quick Takes over at Conversion Diary!

Seven Quick Takes Friday

Seven Quick Takes Friday

  1. Out of the mouths of my man-babies (shared this week on my Facebook timeline):

    While standing by the toaster, trying to get the other son to finish the older bread, says to the other “It’s really *godfather* to eat the heel of the loaf.”

    My young tubist was off for a gig at the Conservatory <this week>. Dressed in a black suit, white shirt, polished shoes, and hipster specs, his comment: “I’ll fit right in with the rush hour crowd. Except for the tuba on my back.”

  2. My little problem has been fixed,
    My little problem has been fixed…

    Thanks to a Facebook friend, I was encouraged to visit the Apple Store regarding the smashed back of my iPhone. Sure enough, the repair was $29+tax. If it’d been the front (screen) it would have been another story. I learned the lesson that a phone is not a particularly good thing to use as a bookmark, particularly if you leave it on a counter above a ceramic tile floor.

  3. Jawbone Up band in mint-green

    I did a little browsing in the Apple Store while I was waiting (the 10 minutes!) for my phone to be repaired. I came home with a Jawbone Up band, a little bracelet that you wear on your wrist to monitor your physical activity and sleep patterns. The accompanying app also lets you easily track your diet (using barcodes or manual search and a huge database of stored foods.) Even though it was a rainy day yesterday and I spent a lot of it indoors, I managed to log over 7200 steps. (My goal is 10,000 per day). You can set the band to vibrate to remind you to get active every so many minutes, and also to wake you up in the morning. I am very excited about this (as I am about so many things these days). I’m hoping my spouse might consider wearing one as well. Mine is a beautiful turquoise (although they call it mint-green). The band is compatible with iOS and Android.

  4. I gave up on Linden MacIntyre’s Why Men Lie. I really enjoyed his previous novel The Bishop’s Man, but I just couldn’t get in to this one. It’s on my Kobo, so I can come back to it later if I want.
  5. I picked up VB6: Eat Vegan Before 6:00 to Lose Weight and Restore Your Health . . . for Good by Mark Bittman when I was at Winners of all places. As I believe I’ve mentioned before, I’m heading that way, both in terms of improving my diet as well as shepherding the resources of the planet more effectively. Essentially, he proposes that you eat a vegan diet before 6 pm and then at will after that.
  6. Michael and I went to the TSO last night and heard Joshua Bell and Edgar Meyer as featured soloists. Bell is astounding, kind of my Perlman for the new millenium or something. He opened the second half with Ravel’s Tzigane, rapsodie de concert for Violin and Orchestra which begins with an extended solo before the orchestra joins in. I would pay the price of my ticket to hear that piece again. Meyer was featured in his composition, the Canadian premiere of the Concerto for Violin and Double Bass. I was underwhelmed by the composition, but that may just be my lack of comfort with modern repertoire. Or maybe it just needs another listen. The playing by both Bell and Meyer was magnificent. The concert opener (Copland’s Appalachian Spring) and closer (Respighi’s Pini di Roma) were absolute barnbusters, the kind of music that just opens up your heart.
  7. Tonight: The Giacomo Variations at the Elgin Theatre, featuring John Malkovich as Casanova. My date is arriving at 5pm, flying in from a week in Vancouver, so I hope his flight is on time. We’ll probably grab dinner at The Paramount.

And now my Up band is vibrating to tell me that I’ve been idle for too long! Gotta run. Consider subscribing to my blog by email (or follow me in WordPress) – use the box on the right if you’re reading this in a browser.

For more Seven Quick Takes Friday, visit Jennifer at Conversion Diary.

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Here Comes the Sun….

Little darlin’…it’s been a long cold lonely winter.

Little darlin’… it seems like years since it’s been here.

Today felt like the right day to get back to my blog. My last post was in December and I’ve been carried through the last few months on the backs of those who love me. 

Some of the things that I look forward to, cultural events, travel, singing, have been whizzing by me and I’ve only been able to partially engage. These past two weeks I have struggled with a very bad cold that started in my chest, and is ending there. My allergies have compounded the problem, but I feel like I’m coming out on top.

I am feeling the need to write more, to find creative ways to express myself, both publicly and privately. I have signed up for a webinar that introduces LifeJournal software to see if that might be a platform that I could use for my personal writing. I need to pick up knitting needles, or an embroidery needle, or set up a sewing space to get back to a quilt I’ve started. My plan is to claim a basement bedroom that is normally used for guests as a place where I can leave my work out for short periods of time.

We have some interesting things on the cultural calendar this month, and I hope to use this space to blog about them.

We’re seeing the play High starring Kathleen Turner at the Royal Alex next week. We’ve also got tickets for the TSO’s performance of Holst’s The Planets for which Michael will be joining us. His school music program does their May Lyrics concert that week as well. The following week we have another Books on Film event at TIFF featuring Graham Greene’s novel The Third Man and 1949 film starring Orson Welles.

My reading life has suffered somewhat recently, but I recently finished Alan Hollinghurst’s The Line of Beauty. My review over at Goodreads read:

I love Hollinghurst’s prose, and would have given this five stars. But I can only take so many pages of coke-fuelled gay sex and this novel went over my limit. 

That aside, it captures the times so aptly: the British class structure; and the world of rich young men (and their hangers on) who want to DO something, like publish a glossy art magazine; the intersection of race and wealth; and what sexual sins are forgivable.

I also had a quick re-read of the Keep Toronto Reading pick Girls Fall Down prior to Sunday’s book club gathering. I’m currently at work on The Vault by Ruth Rendell. Next up will be Peter Robinson’s latest(?) called Before the Poison, a stand-alone mystery, not part of the Inspector Banks series.

Enough for today but I’ll be back soon. May is looking up!

Mathematics in the Theatre – "A Disappearing Number"

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We’ve really enjoyed the live broadcasts of plays from the National Theatre in London this past year. The next season has been announced, and it begins with a play about mathematicians G.H. Hardy and Srinivasa Ramanujan called “A Disappearing Number.” So we’ll be first in line to get tickets. [The plays are broadcast live in HD around the world to selected CIneplex (and presumably other) cinemas, and we’ve got a broadcast location not too far from us.]

This piece appeared in the NY Times last month, and begins:

SIMON McBURNEY understands that beginning a play with an esoteric discussion of the concept of infinity is a risk, but he doesn’t mind if the audience gets lost in his new drama, “A Disappearing Number.” In fact he’s banking on it.

Trailing rave reviews from its original London run, the latest work by Mr. McBurney’s company, Complicite, comes to the Lincoln Center Festival beginning on July 15. It tells the story of the intense working and personal relationship between the mathematicians G. H. Hardy and Srinivasa Ramanujan during World War I. Ramanujan, a 23-year-old Indian with no university education, introduced himself to Hardy by sending a 10-page letter with his theories on subjects like prime numbers and infinity.

Click on the link below the image to read the entire piece.

Seven Quick Takes Friday

 

Coffee
Welcome to visitors from Conversion Diary and Company Girls.

  1. Z and I went to the preview of Cooking With Stella last night, courtesy of Mika at Good Egg who tweeted an offer for a double pass.  Dilip Mehta, the director and co-screenwriter was there and took questions at the end of the film.  Before the screening, Mehta suggested we look at it only as a comedy.  I didn’t understand what he meant until afterwards.  The film addresses the relationship between employers (in this case diplomats living in the Canadian compound in Delhi) and servants (the Indian staff), and is a look at the discomfort that can arise for both parties, as well as the various “businesses” that the cook runs given her access to duty free goods and the apparent wealth of her employers.  It stars the most fetching Don McKellar .  You can view the trailer here

  2. Tuesday afternoon, our hot water tank went.  I was trying to do some dishes and the water wouldn’t get hot.  It’s a rental tank from our local gas company, so I got on the horn and, after looking at our file, they determined that the tank was 18 years old.  At that point, they just decided to send out a replacement tank, which came the next day.  I have no idea if it will be more energy efficient, but I’m hoping so.  I guess we’ll be able to tell from our gas bills, to some extent.  I also very much need to replace our washer and dryer.

  3. Last Sunday, we picked up some flowers for my aunt’s birthday and bought ourselves a pot of spring bulbs at the same time.  It’s wonderful to have that little blast of living colour in our kitchen.  I used to always have some fresh flowers around, but have gotten out of the habit since we’ve been back in Toronto.  I think I’ll pick it up again because they are really refreshing.

  4. I read an extremely compelling piece yesterday at a new-to-me blog called Exile Lifestyle.  The author talks about undertaking short (a few months) experiments with lifestyle to push him in new directions and encourage positive habits.  For example, (and I really encourage you to read his whole post), he did a period of no TV.  A period of no black clothing.  An experiment with no new paper products (except for some personal-hygiene related ones and his notebook.)  Z and I talked about this last night, about some experiments we might try individually and together.   More to come on this one, I’m sure.

  5. Does anyone else have an issue with the shortform for microphone?  “mic”  It just doesn’t work for me.  It should be “mike”.  

  6. I “made” a loaf of bread last night, that is, I loaded up the breadmaker and set the timer for fresh bread this morning.  I do this every two days or so.  I was having a glass of limoncello at the same time, having just returned from Cooking With Stella and dinner at the Bloor Street Diner.  This morning, it didn’t smell like it usually does, and I couldn’t see the bread through the window in the machine.  I had forgotten to put the paddles back into the pan and the bread didn’t mix,  It just baked itself into the pan in a big floury lump.  Now I’m just waiting for it to cool down enough so that I can dump it into the compost.  No sandwich for my sweetie’s lunch today.

  7. Spent a couple of hours in the Kensington Market area with Michael yesterday afternoon.  We had just picked up his tuba from Long and McQuade where it was in for repair, and were heading to Good Egg on Augusta to get my movie passes.  I had assumed Michael had been to Kensington as he spends quite a bit of time in Chinatown with his friends from Japanese class, and it’s just a little north of there.  But it was all new to him, a bit of a wonderland of cheesy discount shops, produce markets, funky shops and restos.  He found a Point Zero sweater at 50% off and I picked up a couple of scarves at Zimmerman’s Discount, where Mr. Zimmerman told him to come back often as there are lots of nice-looking girls in the area.   It was a gorgeous day, and MIchael is a 15yo kid who doesn’t mind hanging with his mom, so it was all good!  

 

Four new-to-me podcasts that I’ve recently picked up…

Definitely Not the Opera (CBC) – With Sook-Yin Lee;  An entertaining look at popular culture.

Wiretap (CBC) – I love Jonathan Goldstein’s columns in the National Post.  This is even better!  Wilson’s been getting long walks so that I can listen to two eps back to back.

Freakonomics Radio (NYT) – You read the book. Now listen to the podcast.

The Therapeutics Education Collaboration podcast is intended for medical practitioners.  It presents information on evidence-based drug therapy content, and give that I’ve been getting some, I’m interested in looking at the evidence.  It’s Canadian too, which is good ’cause we’ve got a slightly different approach to pushing the pills.

 

Alice in Wonderland: my thoughts

I rarely go to see movies in the theatre.  It pains me to spend the kind of money it costs, and I rarely feel I've gotten my money's worth.  I'd rather buy a book and get hours and hours of enjoyment (or a bottle of wine, for that matter!)

But I wanted to see Alice in Wonderland.  I love Tim Burton.  I love Johnny Depp.  And Helena Bonham Carter.  I knew the (first) story (Alice's Adventures in Wonderland).  For whatever reason, I didn't feel the same way about this film as I did about the Narnia pictures.  I couldn't bring my self to see those because they were such well-loved books and my mental imagery was so fixed, that I didn't want to experience anyone else's portrayal of the children and their adventures.  But, perhaps because I had seen various versions the Alice story before, I really wanted to see Tim Burton's take on it all.

Burton's Alice has the right feel.  It's fantastical, magical, swooping, and dazzling.  Dark and then light, funny and then sombre and then a riddle.  It's a little darker than I expected, but it worked.  The CGI work done to the “live” actors is incredible, on top of terrific performances.  I was particularly taken by Anne Hathaway's White Queen, the subtle, airy, insubstantial feel she gave to her character, greatly supported by the pale colours and contrasting dark brows, lips, and nails.  Her little finger wiggle-wave when she's thinking or stating something is perfect.  Enough has been said about Depp.  He's great.  Not sure about his little scene near the end.  Helena Bonham Carter is a stunning, big-headed, wasp-waisted Red Queen.  

I”m not so sure about the story itself.  I haven't read Through the Looking Glass, so I'm not sure how much is Carroll's and how much the screenwriter's.  The ending was weak, and quite unbelievable (if I can even say that about such a film), but set as it was in the real world, it just didn't ring true.  Whatever.  

The weakest part of the experience was the 3D.  I had read reviews suggesting it was better seen without this technology, but I didn't really believe it.  The problem is that the 3D effects come in and out, changing the depth of field, and momentarily knocking you out of the film and reminding you that you are watching a movie in 3D.  And this happens frequently.  Now, I like the switch from black and white to colour (and back) in the Wizard of Oz.  It made sense, and happens when it should.  But in Alice, we are constantly being reminded that “ooh, cool, 3D”  when the background suddenly goes fuzzy and something comes out at you.  This review says it better (Alert: spoilers and a few bad words).

Bottom line:  I would have been happier to spend my $15.50 (ack) on a set of Alice books and wait to rent the film to watch on Blu-Ray at home.

 

A couple of firsts….

Was up bright and early this morning to get to a local movie theatre!  I won free tickets to the preview of The Spy Next Door and we were asked to arrive between 9 and 10 to pick up our passes for the 10 am screening. This was the first time I’d ever been to a movie so early in the day, and it was actually kinda great.  I won a family four-pack, so we invited friends to join us.

The film was entertaining, in a family-friendly, clean, no big surprises way.  It’s a Jackie Chan flick, set in suburban California, with kid-scary Russian bad-guys, a single mom (Amber Valetta) with three kids, and a neighbour who’s a spy masquerading as a worker in a pen factory (Chan).  His spy cohorts include Billy Ray Cyrus and George Lopez.  The kids were charming, there were some laughs, and everything turns out in the end.

Our friends were celebrating their 22nd wedding anniversary today, so we wandered a block north to a favorite Dim Sum place for lunch and conversation.

When we got home, Z pulled out his new hair cutting kit and asked me to cut his hair.  He found it on sale at Canadian Tire after Christmas and  thought it’d be great to save the cash from his regular cuts by having me handle it on his behalf.  It was a little nerve-wracking at first, but once you get the hang of it, it went quite smoothly.  I even did this eyebrows and a few other spots that men need to tend to as they get older.  I must say, I did quite a good job, and may consider doing Michael as well, if he wants, LOL!

For the rest of the afternoon, we just vegetated on the sofa reading the papers and our books.  I’m still getting through The Experimental Man and Z is reading Logicomix:  An Epic Search for Truth, a graphic novel about Bertrand Russell that I just got from the library and that he’s really enjoying,