Saturday, January 31, 2009

January 2009 Books and Movies

French Women Don't Get Fat
Mireille Guiliano

This book was a good read. More of a lifestyle recommendation than a diet book, it does contain some very interesting recipes and a lot of solid advice. Guiliano is a mite condescending at times, but because she speaks the truth, it didn't bother me so much. Give the Leek Soup a miss, it's really not that great, more like leek flavoured water. I don't think one could live on it and the leeks themselves for a weekend without going completely nuts. Not to mention the only weight you would lose would be water weight. Her website is pretty good, I would be interested in reading her follow up book.

The Time Traveler's Wife
Audrey Niffenegger

This was an amazing book. Well written, incredibly interesting plot, excellently drawn characters, just amazing. It's five hundred pages plus, and I read it in under a week. I would have been done sooner if work hadn't gotten in the way! :) Clare was really lovely, as was Gomez. I wasn't the hugest fan of Henry, but he was definitely interesting. It was very sad, made even more so by the readers fore-knowledge. Thoroughly enjoyable, if you haven't already, go out and read it at once!

Runaway Bride

Cute, but not spectacular. Had all the same people from Pretty Woman in it, so the actor chemistry was spot on, if not a bit repetitive. It was funnier than I thought it would be, and I was surprised to see what a great job Christopher Meloni did with his role. I'm so used to seeing him as Eliott Stabler on SVU, it took a moment to adjust. As I've said before, I'm not the world's greatest Julia Roberts fan, but I liked her in this. Definitely wouldn't have gone to see it in a theatre all those years ago, but on TV, it was a good distraction.

Educating Esme: Diary of a Teacher's First Year
Esme Raji Codell

This was an incredible account of a first year teacher working in a Chicago inner city school. So many of the things she wrote were exactly how I felt in my first year. This book was filled with so many positive moments yet so many negative ones as well. It clearly outlines the joys and frustrations of teaching. I would recommend it to non-teachers, if only to understand that this job is more than the sum of its parts, a fact few people truly appreciate.

The Last Summer (Of You And Me)
Ann Brashares

This book was hard to get into, but ultimately, a good one. It's the story of two sisters and their dear friend Paul during their last summer on Fire Island, near New York City. Brashares is the famed author of the Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants books, so I was intrigued to see what she would do with a young adult novel. It was a touch self indulgent, at times, but the story was quite touching and took a sad turn near the end. This is a good millieu for Brashares, she should try another novel in this vein.

There's Something About Mary

I'd never been inclined to see this movie, given the number of people who told me how funny it was, but it was on TV so I thought what the hay. Turns out, I'm missing the gene that finds physical comedies full of toilet humour amusing. With some exceptions (American Pie being notable) I generally find these types of movies extremely off putting. There were a few genuine bits in this one that were watchable, and I did laugh a few times, but, for me, it's nowhere near the classic everyone raves about.

Becoming Jane

Proof that just because something is historical fiction, doesn't mean that I'm necessarily going to love it. It'll keep me watching, if it's well done from a costume and setting perspective (which this film definitely has in spades) but the plot still has to be there. All the pieces were there, great cast (Anne Hathaway, James MacEvoy, James Cromwell and many more), a great subject, an interesting time period, but just didn't seem to pull out a great film. Hathaway's Jane was far too bold for the period. Even if they were trying to suggest that Austen was different for her time, there was no way a woman of her standing would kiss a man the way she did in her first kiss with Mr. LaFroy. It's good, but not the best, see it if you really love historical fiction, like me!

French Kiss

Ummm, not totally horrible, but pretty terrible. Meg Ryan plays the same character in every movie! What's up with that? I usually love Kevin Kline, but his fake French accent and the presumption that his French is good enough to act alongside amazing French actors like Jean Reno, is laughable. Not to mention they didn't even translate the subtitles correctly. The premise was cute, and the French cinematography (especially in the South) was beautiful. If there's something better on, watch that.


Everything is de-lovely about this film! Of course, I'm biased due to my predilection for historical anything, fact, fiction, biography etc. :) This is the story of Cole Porter, one of the greatest American songwriters of the 20th century. My favorite Cole Porter tune is "Night and Day", and it's conveniently sung in the movie by one of my favorite modern song and dance men, John Barrowman! The period is dead on, with glorious costumes and sets. Kevin Kline is fantastic, and Ashely Judd is amazing as Linda Porter. You pretty much have to like musicals to enjoy this film, but it's really worth a look. Enjoy!

Mona Lisa Smile

Another wonderful period piece. Throw in the subtle feminist movement grassroots plot and I was hooked! I'm not usually a huge fan of Julia Roberts, but thought she did an excellent job here as the influential art history professor who tries to circumvent tradition. The depiction of 1953 Wellesley College was amazing, so well done. Kirsten Dunst, Julia Stiles and Maggie Gyllenhaal were all brilliant. Moving and thought provoking, a definite must see.

Running Log 31/01/09

To assure my small readership, I won't be blogging about every run, just about the ones that I feel I've made significant progress.

Today I went for my first winter run. Actually it was two runs, each 2.3 km long. The first run was exclusively uphill, carrying a two kilo backpack and the walks were quite snowy. It was pretty cold, -14 with wind chill. It really made a difference in my breathing. With the exception of two pauses for lights, I ran the entire way. On the way back it was much easier and with the exception of one stop because my bag was undone. I didn't run very fast, and because I wasn't on the treadmill, I didn't keep track of the distance or time. I feel that I did improve though, because it's really different to run outside. It was really tough on the way up, but I felt a real sense of accomplishment when I was finished.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Running Log 30/01/09

Time: 33 min
Distance: 4 km
Speed: 7 km/hr
Intervals: 15 min running, 1 min walking, 15 min running, 2 min cool down

Today I ran a 13.5 minute mile (I am so not a math person, I've tried and given up trying to figure out what kind of minute km that is... :( can any of the 3 people who read my blog help me?)

I'm improving, but it's seems slow. At this pace I'll have to run the 5km in 40 min. Tomorrow I go for my first outside winter run. Hopefully I don't slip too much in the snow, given my history with breaking body parts in the snow!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Running Log 27/01/09

Time: 35 min
Distance: 4 km
Speed: Between 6 and 7 km/hr
Intervals: 10 min running, 1 min walking, 10 min running, 1 min walking, 10 min running, 3 min cool down

My goal is 30 min nutty uncle seems to think I will be able to do this 5K run in 30 min, and he's in excellent shape, so I've taken on the challenge.

I am making progress though, which is great!

I'm looking forward to when I get to put:

Intervals: None :)

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Back in the Running Saddle

With my cold/borderline bronchitis finally out of my system (except for the odd cough and phlegmy stuff here and there) I've started to train for a future 5K run. I'm not sure which one I'll do, I still have to check them all out. Something along the water would be my preference. Amy and I are encouraging each other and hopefully, when the weather warms up, will start running together! It's always fun to run with a buddy.

Below are my first two running logs.

Running Log 25/01/09

Time: 32 min
Distance: 3.5 km
Speed: Between 6 and 7 km/hr
Intervals: 5 min running, 1 min walking, 6 min running, 1 min walking, 7 min running, 1 min walking, 8 min running, 3 min cool down.

Running Log 24/01/09

Time: 30 min
Distance 3 km
Speed: Between 6 and 7 km/hr
Intervals: 3 min running, 1 min walking, 4 min running, 1 min walking, 5 min running, 1 min walking, 6 min running, 1 min walking, 7 min running, 1 min cool down.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Friday night at the Rex

Went to see The Dave Young Group at the Rex with Pat and another friend last night. Here's the line up.

Kevin Turcotte - Trumpet

Gary Williamson - Piano

Dave Young - Bass

Terry Clarke - Drums

John Johnson also joined them on tenor sax. What a band! Great trumpet (of course, Kevin Turcotte is amazing) and with John Johnson, the sound is seriously sweet. Dave Young is a fiend with that bass, what a player! I was too tired to stick around for the entire second set, but what I heard was brilliant.

If you get the chance, definitely check them out!

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Another great dinner party

Yesterday, after a ridiculously long rehearsal, Pat and Em came over. We decided to hit the market for fresh ingredients to create dinner. What a meal! We started off with bread and a triple cream Quebecois cheese, followed by a main of fresh tilapia in a pomegranate sauce (Pat's invention) with pan fried leeks and a parsnip/potato mash. All accompanied by a wonderful 2007 Pinot Grigio Veneto by this Italian winery. The Veneto isn't in their product list anymore, but I would be happy to try the Pinot Grigio Piave listed, as the Veneto was quite spectacular. We had some rather disappointing tartuffo for dessert. Too sweet, and too much like ice cream, not gelato. Homemade chocolate chip cookies and espresso finished off the meal. Great company, wine and food, what more could one ask for. I'm happy to be making good on my promise to myself to entertain at home more often.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

2009...what's in store?

Right off the bat, I will repeat my New Year's Mantra...I don't make New Year's Resolutions.

Taking stock:


Aside from the worst flu bug I think I've ever had in my life that's lasted a whole week's worth of my holidays, I'm doing ok. My RA continues to be in drug related remission, and I'm getting back to the things I used to do before the ankle break and the diagnosis. I even went skating for the first time again in 3 years! It was great, I'm looking forward to getting back to skating more regularly.


New assignment this year, same place. Ho hum. Nothing new to say except for I'm now 18 months away from my sabbatical. The countdown begins! Tune in to my blog for preparation updates, and of course, the journey itself.


I've changed so many of my old paradigms, sometimes I don't even recognise myself. I've become a fan of the non traditional, and learned to fully (not just topically) accept people for who they are, and then decide whether or not they have a place in my life. Patience has not traditionally been one of the things I have in spades, although I've certainly developed in this area. As with anything, there are developments I wish for, but if wishes were horses, beggars would ride. :)


Looking pretty good, better the neater I keep it! :) I'm so glad I was able to get my living room drapes up, and hopefully will get the bedroom drapes up very soon. Another goal for 2009, get rid of useless stuff! I definitely have trouble letting go of sentimental things that I never look at, but when I go to throw them away, I can't. Still need to do the floors and paint, but I'm not sure I want to before I sublet. On the other hand, I want to enjoy my home fully, and done up the way I imagined, before I sublet. We'll see what happens.

All in all, I hope that 2009 brings about some real changes in my life. I'm on a mission to improve my fitness, eating habits, personal relationships and musicianship. I know, it sounds like New Year's resolutions, but really, they're just holdovers from my goals from last year. I made some amazing progress last year, so I'm hoping to continue this year.

Happy New Year! All the best in 2009!