Sunday, November 30, 2008

November 2008 Books and Movies

James Bond: Quantum of Solace

Hmmm, that's the first thing that came to mind when this movie had finished. Daniel Craig is still as gorgeous as ever, but this movie really was a string of action sequences with a bit of plodding plot in the middle. It's my theory that a Bond girl should have that special something that men and women alike fancy. Unfortunately, although Olga Kurylenko is a pretty girl, she wasn't a Bond girl. They did a bit better with their choice of Gemma Arterton, she at least had a unique look about her. I enjoyed Judi Dench as always, as well as the gadgets, so it wasn't a total loss. It just felt like the director took a lot of the things that were "James Bond" out of this new film, somewhat like the martinis he was drinking on the plane. Apparently, that type of martini is exactly what he drinks in the first book Casino Royale, but not what was established in the first movie. To quote someone from the IMDB board, remarkably unremarkable.

Knitting Under the Influence
Claire LaZebnik

Good and bad. Good for the unique story elements, knitting and autism, bad for the predictability of the storyline. I knew exactly who the three girls were going to end up with at the end from almost the beginning and of course, not one of them could end the novel single. That would be the real tragedy! I'm trying out authors from the short story collection below, but this one, I would give a miss.

How To Be Single
Liz Tuccillo

This book didn't get the best reviews, but luckily, I didn't read them before I started. The overall tone was a bit negative, but the characters were finely drawn and there were some uproariously funny moments. This is not a how to novel, but the story of one women's research on how to be single around the world. Just as a warning, the Thomas story is heartbreaking. I'm think I would actually read her next outing, if it was a piece fiction as opposed to a manual like "He's Just Not That Into You".

American Girls About Town (Short Stories)

I originally ordered this book from the library based on a search for Jennifer Weiner novels. I didn't realise it was a book of short stories until I had it in my hot little hands. I was pleasantly surprised to find that it also included a story by Lauren Weisberger (The Devil Wears Prada) and disappointed to find a story by Cindy Chupack (I really didn't like her novel effort, although I liked her writing for SATC). I also found a few others I liked (Nancy Sparkling and Claire LaZebnick) and have put their novels on order. There are a few other short story anthologies of this ilk out there (Irish Girls About Town, Irish Girls Are Back in Town and Scottish Girls About Town) so we'll see what they're like. At the very least, perhaps I'll find some other authors to read.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

A Great Birthday!

Had a lovely day from start to finish. Work wasn't too bad, and I was able to get away relatively early. Went to part of band practice where everyone serenaded me with "Happy Birthday". That was pretty cool, I've never had a whole band play for just me before! Way too much yummy food and drink, all of my favorites, pizza, mushroom salad, calamari, tartuffo, pinot grigio, was delish and too filling. D gave me a lovely present, a hardcover copy of Chekhov's novellas. He is my absolute favorite Russian playwright, with The Cherry Orchard being the best of the bunch. I'm really looking forward to reading the story collection. It's too bad that the day had to fall in the middle of the week, with two more work days to go. Can't wait to party on Saturday night, should be fun!

Monday, November 24, 2008

John McLeod's Rex Hotel Orchestra

What a band! Or should I say, what a big band! Great sound, really tight, and they even had two french horns!

The line up was fantastic: David Braid on keys, John Jonson and Andy Ballentine (I teach his kid) on alto sax, Kelley Jefferson and Alex Dean on Tenor, Reg Schwager on guitar, just to name a few. There was even a surprise visit from Bob DeAngelis playing some Xmas music.

Well worth it, especially with a stellar arrangement of "It Don't Mean a Thing" featuring the trombone section and another of "Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered" featuring the trumpet section.

The trumpet section were a hoot, a lot of them know each other from the Rob McConnell Boss Brass days, so they were acting like naughty school children, talking while the teacher is teaching type thing. They could surely play though! John McLeod is awesome, especially on flugle. Here's a clip

Well worth the $10 admission. They play on the last Monday of every month, check it out!

Friday, November 21, 2008


Fantastic! I love seeing indie/fringe theatre. Click here for the synopsis. Great acting, simplistic set design, intimate space, just what I needed to get my head back into theatre again. I had lost my way somewhat, because of the crap I'd been seeing. I'm inspired to see as much Canadian independent theatre as I can. All thanks to this this website, which is awesome. Check it out!

Friday, November 14, 2008

Banana Boys - The Play

Went to Hart House Theatre tonight to see a play by Leon Aureus based on the novel Banana Boys by Terry Woo. I know the author slightly and had read the book, so I was interested to see how it translated into live theatre. The results were mixed. Although a great novel, it doesn't lend itself very well to story telling on stage. The playwright and director got around this by introducing elements of 1970s style collective creation giving the actors authorship of their work. The resulting blocking was quite powerful at times. Is being CBC (Canadian Born Chinese) as relevant now as it was 8-10 years ago? I'm sure I can't answer that question, but according to the playwright's notes, times are a-changing. I'm glad I saw it, and wish the playwright and author continued success.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Remembrance Day

Through a number of odd happenings, I had a very powerful and spiritual experience this November 11th. The afternoon before the Remembrance Day assembly I found out the trumpet player I thought was coming to play the Last Post for us, was actually not booked. I never received the message. Knowing that I would never find a player in that short a time, I went in on Tuesday and found myself a school trumpet. I took a trumpet minor in high school, played a little in dance band years ago, and taught middle school band 4 years ago, so to say I was rusty would be a huge understatement. As I started to practice, it sounded, well, worse than a grade nine student, to be honest.

As the soldier I had booked was taking to the students, I slipped outside the gym to warm up. Still not great. Moments before 11:00 am, I told myself: "You have to do this, for everyone who has served and especially your grandfather, a World War II vet and not long gone from this world". I honestly believe that he helped me today, because, although not picture perfect, I played every note clearly and didn't kak once. For those of you in the know, the Last Post is HARD, with G's out of nowhere, not to mention all note changes are done with your embouchure as it is all open. I had tears in my eyes at the end, as I know I did my grandfather and myself proud.

It was a profound moment in my life and I'll never forget the feeling.

Lest We Forget.