Monday, April 30, 2007

April 2007 Books and Movies

Around the World in 80 Dates
Jennifer Cox

I knew I would like this book by the title. The combination of romance and travel is exhilarating and right up my alley. I didn't expect to love this book. Even though at times Cox is a bit repetitive, (eg: overuse of the word ubiquitous) her world wide search for a Soul Mate is great reading. She makes some important self discoveries that really resounded with me. Reading this book caused me to reflect on my own life, what I want, what I need and who I love. An absolute must read for anyone, with or without a soul mate. Not too girly, so men will find it accessible, and doesn't read like a guide book. Really enjoyed it!

The Hopeless Romantic's Handbook
Gemma Townley

I really like this author, but this was not one of my favorite books. It was funny, and I zipped through it, but not with the same enthusiam. I didn't really get into the character of Kate, and knew from the first page who she was going to end up with in the end. I really hate predictability in books. I did enjoy the reality/home makeover show story line, which placed the story firmly in this decade. The sub plots seemed gratuitous and resolved themselves a little too compactly. All in all, too formulaic.

Forever in Blue: the Fourth Summer of the Sisterhood
Ann Brashares

Final installment of this series. With all the hype, I was expecting it to be a nice rounded off ending for the four girls. In reality it seemed like an open ended book, that invited a sequel, even though the author has said this is definitely the end of the series. Just seems a bit commercial to me. The girls' characters weren't really as fleshed out as they had been in the past, and the pants weren't as important to the story line. Carmen didn't even get a romantic storyline, which seemed strange. It seemed that the series had already finished with the 3rd book and this last one was written because of fan pressure and for money.

Coyote Blue
Christopher Moore

Weird. Good. Weird. Funny. Definitely weird. This guy is some author. I'm looking forward to reading more from him. I really liked the native trickster storyline and absolutely laughed out loud at some parts. Really quick-paced and cerebral. I also liked the darkness, which surprised me. Maybe I do have a touch of goth in me after all.

Clerks (DVD)

I can't believe I had never seen this movie! It was hilarious! I loved the low budget look, fast dialogue and general quirkyness. I've seen other Kevin Smith features and really liked them. I heard that Clerks II wasn't quite as good, we'll see. Loved the line "I'm not even supposed to be here today!", cracked me up everytime. The dead guy tenting made me laugh out loud. Saturday morning well spent...thanks Janet!

The Culture Code - An Ingenious Way to Understand Why People Around the World Live and Buy as they Do
Clotaire Rapaille

As far as convenient theories for the masses go, this one was pretty interesting. Rapaille asserts that consumers buy products based on applied codes from their subconcious. Born in France, he considers himself an American so the majority of codes are for these two countries. Some of the more interesting ones are these:

American Code for Sex = VIOLENCE
American Code for Food = FUEL
American Code for Fat = CHECKING OUT
American Code for Health = MOVEMENT
American Code for the American Presidency = MOSES

Here's an interesting comparison:

American Code for the USA = FREEDOM
Canadian Code for Canada = TO KEEP (our culture from changing)

It was a fast entertaining read, especially when Rapaille found ways to make everything fit jigsaw like into his theory.

Shopaholic and Baby
Sophie Kinsella

Waaaa! I love this series and was left with a ho hum feeling after this installment. As much as I hate to admit it, I think the Becky (nee Bloomwood) Brandon story is just about done. Things were much more exciting when you wanted to yell at the pages of the book when she was spending out of control. Now her and Luke are so well off, it doesn't seem like her spending is too bad. Kinsella is in good form as ever, the writing is tight and the story spins its tale well. I think, like the heady feeling of a first kiss, the first book is in a league of its own and won't be topped no matter how many books come afterwards. Still enjoyable and still will read anything this author commits to print.

Reign Over Me

Love Don Cheadle and he didn't disappoint. Adam Sandler often pulls off dramatic roles, I really liked him in Punch Drunk Love and The Wedding Singer. Here he plays a man who has lost his entire family in 9/11 and has disconnected from the rest of the world. He meets up with Cheadle, who was his college roomate and begins to re-enter the world again. I don't want to give away too much, but parts of it are really sad. Bring tissues!

Wild Hogs

Stupid, stupid, William H. Macy is always good, stupid. That about sums this movie up. Laughed a few times, but not enough to make it worth a look in the theatre. Rent it if you must...

Zlata's Diary - A Child's Life in Wartime Sarejevo
Zlata Filipović

Hailed as a modern day Anne Frank, this young girl chronicles 2 years of war in Sarejevo. Though not as compelling as Anne Frank, it is really interesting to read about a modern war and its effect on ordinary people. Both mature beyond her years and childlike in her simple mantra for peace and an end to war, Zlata draws you in, until you finish the diary. A good read for students grades 5-9, when studying the history of conflict.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Busy Concert Weekend

The choir I sing with, the Toronto Classical Singers (TCS) just finished our last concert of the season and it was a great way to end the year. We performed Ralph Vaughn Williams Sea Symphony, which took a lot of practice, but was well worth it in the end. I was starting to feel a little bored at the TCS, but if we continue to do challenging works like this, it should be much more interesting. Also my voice is getting better all the time, so that is injecting some much needed enthusiasm to my singing as well!

Sunday, April 15, 2007

An Arty Weekend

This has been a great weekend full of dancing, music and theatre!

Went to a fundraiser show last night. Linda's cousin is a therapeutic clown who is going on a trip with Patch Adams (a doctor and performer) to Russia's hospices and orphanages. She got together a bunch of her performing friends at the Centre of Gravity (a local clown college) to put on a show. There were other fundraising initiatives, a 50/50 draw, a silent auction and a bake sale. Some performances were amazing (the acrobat who suspends herself using two pieces of silk strung from the ceiling and the didgeridoo player), some were heartfelt (singing and performance art) and some were hysterical (clowning around, some with fire!). The red nose is the smallest mask of all, just putting it on and turning around and looking at the audience can make them laugh. Add other gags and you'll have them rolling in the aisles. A therapeutic clown is slighter gentler, and much more interactive due to the nature of their audience. Anna (the person going to Russia) closed the show with a very funny skit. I loved the eclectic people who were both performing and audience members, the free space where everyone could be who they really were and most of all, the artistic energy. It made me realise how much I miss creating, performing and collaborating. The Centre of Gravity has a number of activities on during the week, which would be a great way to get back in the swing of things.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

An Afternoon at the Theatre

CanStage - Berkeley Street Theatre

Had the opportunity to see this show last minute and am I glad I did. Excellent cast, writing and topically relevant. The play explores autism and interaction with the story of an autistic child, Lucy, who moves in with her estranged mother. It was funny, touching and thought provoking. The actor playing Lucy (Meg Roe) was phenomenal. I'm looking forward to seeing her in other things. I found it very relevant because this year I have two autistic children in my classes. Autism is a broad spectrum exceptionality so these children respond to myself and my program in various ways and sometimes not at all. I wish I had know about it beforehand, as I would have mentioned it to others at school. A very enjoyable Saturday afternoon.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Cache at Lula Lounge

Went to see my friend Yannick play in his latin jazz band Cache at Lula Lounge tonight. First time I'd ever been to Lula. I used to be pretty crazy into Latin dance, even was seriously taking lessons just before I went to England. I really love to dance still but find that my ankle just doesn't hold up as well, although it held up better than I thought. As usual, although there were a few good male dancers, most of the men were there with their wives/girlfriends and not the greatest dancers. That's the thing, for latin dance, you NEED a partner. Sure I danced by myself and had a good time, but it would have been nice to practise some things that I haven't done in a while such as cross body leads, twirls and dips. But the choice of partners always fall into two categories, scary good that I am too intimidated to ask to dance and really beginer who ask me and then there's no strong lead. Also because asking someone to dance in Latin culture is intrinsically NOT a come on, other men who don't understand this wonder why women don't want to dance with them. Oh for a moderately advanced latin male to dance with, who just wants to DANCE!