Tag Archives: entertainment

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!

Women and clothes: part comedy, part drama.

Zouheir and I went to see Love, Loss and What I Wore (LLAWIW) at the Panasonic Theatre on Saturday night. I had read a 4-star review in The Star and was very much looking forward to seeing Mary Walsh, Andrea Martin, and three others perform this work. It was a short performance of an hour and a half without an intermission.  It was a very rainy night and the theatre was perhaps two-thirds full.  Before the show, we had a non-descript dinner at The Artful Dodger pub around the corner, followed by coffee and a crepe at Cafe Mania.  

While I’m not sure that the show lived up to the glowing review, it was definitely worth seeing.  The stories themselves were mostly funny, although the piece was sprinkled with lost love, cancer, and death.  I found the flow of the work a little choppy, maybe bipolar with very quick mood swings.  I don’t know. I found it a little difficult to manage the emotional highs and lows.

The actors did well.  They sit on the stage with the work in binders/folders on stands in front of them.  Mary Walsh and Andrea Martin were fabulous, as would be expected of these two seasoned actor/comedians.  Louise Pitre’s part kind of ties the the whole evening together, and she was sort of the elder statesman of the evening (and this is not a comment on her age, of which I have no idea).  Sharron Matthews was terrific:  I don’t think I’ve seen her work before. although she’s been in a number of films.  I found her very funny, with great comedic presence. (Here is a link to her blog, to which I have just subscribed.)  Paula Brancati, seen on Degrassi and Being Erica, was perhaps the youngest of the cast.  She was difficult to hear at times, and definitely didn’t have the gravitas of the others. (Okay, I just read her bio at the link and she’s only 21!! She did well!)

I was reminded of a wonderful book I read a few months ago called Dream Dresses by Hilary Scharper (my brief review here).  It, too, tackles the relationships that women have with their clothing, the longing for that perfect pair of rubber boots, the discomfort with the way our bodies look, the feeling of power that the perfect outfit can produce. Maybe it’s just me, but for the price of a ticket for LLAWIW, I could have purchased three books of short stories.  If they were as powerful as Scharper’s, I would have preferred the books.


Mathematics in the Theatre – “A Disappearing Number”


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.

Tuesday miscellany

Last night’s presentation of London Assurance by the National Theatre in London was great fun.  It’s the second HD satellite broadcast of their plays that I’ve attended and I really enjoy this format.  It differs from both live theatre and film, an interesting hybrid of the two genres, giving the immediacy of live performance and (some of) the detail/camera angles of film.  I definitely want to catch an opera in this format, and plan to attend next seasons plays.

Alex starts his first day of work today. He’s in his second year working at a local day camp, and this week is devoted to staff training. He’s been at loose ends for the last two months and this will get his days ordered a little bit.  

I’ve got a number of things to get done today:

  1. Costco – need items to make sandwiches for reception after a funeral tomorrow
  2. Optician – get broken glasses repaired/buy new frames
  3. Library – return books and pick up holds
  4. Pharmacy – call in prescription
  5. Quilt – continue piecing and press
  6. Genealogy courses – finish Methodology assignments/exam
  7. Fold laundry

I’m finding that if I don’t write it all down, the day drifts on and I forget what I need to be focussing on.  I spent a couple of hours on my quilt yesterday and got most of the first set of 96 pieces sewn (two triangles into a square).  I want to finish up that set and press them all before moving on.  

For those of you who are reading this via email subscription, feel free to click through to the blog itself to leave comments on my posts and to visit my other pages.  I have one with a set of links to favorite websites, one each for my Twitter and Facebook feeds, and a list of recent reads (via my amazon estore).  


I had the pleasure of accompanying Z to Stratford for the Day on Monday.  He was speaking at a conference and I was quite content to spend the day by myself until he could join me for dinner.  


In the morning, I wandered around the main streets.  Many of the shops were closed on Monday, so that was a bit of a disappointment, but I was still able to enjoy the sights of this beautiful city, like the Perth County Courthouse (above).  

I had lunch at Bentley’s on Ontario Street, fish and chips and a pint, and then headed down to the area around the Avon Theatre.  I dropped into a Coffee Culture and had a cup of coffee and a piece of apple tarte,


I had a ticket for Peter Pan, which turned out to be marvellous!  I was seated next to a couple whose daughter Laura Condlln plays Mrs. Darling (and a mermaid) in the production and they were clearly very proud!  I love the story, and the acting was superb.  Michael Therriault was fabulous as Peter, and had an uncanny resemblance, both in appearance and in behaviour, to my brother-in-law!  Also notable was Tom McCamus who plays Captain Hook as well as the narrator/playwright J.M Barrie.

When the play was over, I drove out to the conference centre to pick up Z and we returned to the market square near the Avon Theatre to have dinner at Othello’s, another pub.  When we first walked in, the decor was not very impressive, but the food turned out to be excellent. We shared a crisp, fresh, salad with goat cheese and some somosas to start. I had a lamb burger with goat cheese and peppers and Z had veal roulade with fresh vegetables. We tried the local Waterloo Dark, which was very nice.


After dinner, we headed out to the Festival Theatre to see Kiss Me, Kate.  It was lots of fun….a little broad for my tastes, but our seats were excellent and it was a very enjoyable evening of entertainment.  Z particularly enjoyed Chilina Kennedy in her role as Lois Lane and we both loved the Too Darn Hot and Brush up Your Shakespeare numbers.


We headed out of town after the show, stopping at Tim Hortons to pick up some (horrific) coffee.  We arrived home around 12:30 exhausted but having enjoyed ourselves immensely!  It was our first time in Stratford and we certainly plan to return this summer, and in the future.

Seven Quick Takes Friday


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.