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Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Wrath: Some Days I Just Can't Control Myself

For those day that require a river of love flowing from your mouth when everything seems to go JUST RIGHT:



Pride: Tea/Coffee Party Preview

As I'm sure some of you are aware, it's that time of the year again: 'tis the season for my semi-annual Tea and Coffee Party! This winter it will be held on Sunday, December 19th from 1pm - 5pm (drop by anytime). If you're really serious about attending I will give you my new address. This marks the 6th annual Winter Tea/Coffee Party, and the 12th semi-annual Tea/Coffee Party... I'm getting pretty serious about bouquets, TGFOPs and boldness now. This winter's "theme" is INDIA; below is a preview.

From Nectar: Fine Teas on Wellington Street in Ottawa comes a White tea from India: Assam Silver Needle. White and Green teas from India are pretty rare, the majority of tea estates in this region produce Black teas. The leaves are slightly rolled into tubes and the flavour is very subtle, but clear and refreshing (almost like a green tea). It was interesting to watch steep because the leaves were tightly rolled when the water was first poured over top and they floated up on the surface, but as the leaves softened, the air was released and they slowly sank to the bottom of the cup one by one like a little tea ballet.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Sloth: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part I & Megamind 3D

Awesome. I have been enjoying the Harry Potter series for a few years now (both the films and the books), and I must say that they are great examples of what creativity and craft can produce in the fantasy genre. Up to this point, I found the films were a great way to escape into another world for a couple of hours, dive into the magic and watch a couple kids run around a school with magic wands. This one gets a little more serious now that the troupe has left school to battle the most evil dark lord imaginable!

I'm always blown away when a film can integrate CGI and computer effects seamlessly, and the Deathly Hallows has achieved this. Not only are special creatures added to the live action, there are changes in atmosphere that just appear too real to the eye. Another film that does this brilliantly is District 9 with their PRAWNS (GOD I LOVE THIS FILM) and spaceships. Aliens aside, wizards and witches can do no wrong in the film world with this movie.

The story continues to progress, friendships and relationships and all the other ships are tested, and the underdog always comes out on top. Otherwise, what kind of kids movie would it be?? Regardless, it's great to watch if only to see a great team come together to produce some quality big-budget cinema.

Meh. Megamind 3D was just another reason for a big animation company to produce another good vs. evil children's film using the latest 3D and computer-generated technology. The characters are not very memorable, and it's hard to get caught up in the action when you've got Jonah Hill, Brad Pitt, Tina Fey and Will Ferrell yelling at you from in front of your flimsy plastic glasses (I didn't mind David Cross though... that guy is hilarious in whatever he chooses to do). If these productions could support lesser-known actors with talent by giving them big roles like these, I could probably get into the movie more instead of thinking about how blue is not Will Ferrell's colour (I do realize it would make the film a little less popular since some of the draw for people lies in the big names behind the animated faces $$$).

Voices aside, the animation was decent. What usually gets me is the production studio's inability to reproduce FABRICS and clothing that actually look and flow like the real thing. Megamind did it! More or less only in his stunning cape, but it's enough to impress me.

This one is not worth your moola. The story is bland, the characters are pulled from basic stock and you can see the ending from the beginning.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

FYE: Old Japanese Tunes

I stumbled upon some great Japanese songs from the 1930s-1950s, they're precious.

市丸 Ichimaru / 三味線ブギウギ Shamisen Boogie Woogie (1949) 

(Hamako Watanabe) 支那の夜 (渡辺はま子 唱) 1938 年錄音  


Youki na Wataridori by Hibari Misora (1951 at 14 years old)

Vinyl Wednesday: Tears For Fears - Songs From The Big Chair

I really love this album, it has to be in my top 5 of all time (as entire albums, not as artists or singles). It starts with "Shout", in my opinion one of their best songs... it begins with low synthesized tones paired with percussion that gives it a low mood... something is building up throughout the duration of the song. It just gets heavier and heavier with sax, guitar, synthesizers, lots going on and just giving good, powerful vibes: I wish all albums started me off with a bang like this one. The second track, "The Working Hour", mellows down with some solo saxophone and takes us into some great beats and percussion, a little keyboard/piano and it's just another sweet track! Tears for Fears just ace their build-ups EVERY SINGLE TIME.... guys, take notes on these climaxes.

AND THE LYRICS. I really enjoy musicians that can not only create a wonderfully-sounding piece of music, but can also make it a substantial addition to vocal literature. A great pop song is an art form, but to make an album that was this popular ["...certified triple-platinum in the UK and quintuple-platinum in the US (where it remained the #1 album for five weeks in the summer of 1985)," Source], with substance just gets number one in my books. "Everybody Wants To Rule The World" is pretty much both of these things, if not a little more on the pop side compared to the rest of the album, and who doesn't love a good synth-and-electric guitar solo??

If you haven't heard this album (ON VINYL... not sure what it is about this one being on vinyl, it just has to be), then you must get your hands on this immediately. Sure, it's purely evocative of the 80s, but it's 80s New Wave with some twists and it might just leave you a little more satisfied with your life.

Track Listing:
(Part One)
The Working Hour
Everybody Wants To Rule The World
Mothers Talk

(Part Two)
I Believe
Head Over Heels

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Vinyl Wednesday: Shirley Ellis - The Name Game

The original Name Game, Miss Shirley Ellis, brings some sweet rockin' tunes on this album. Her voice is powerful, but flirty, and the songs are upbeat and danceable. The best part of this album is her song "Nitty Gritty"; just pure NITTY GRITTY, you know? I love the album's style, just imagine a full dance hall in the early 1960s,  a full band on one end with the beautiful Shirley Ellis positioned upfront centre, the crowd ready to groove and shake, the drums start and then you hear Shirley and her band belting it the whole night, just giving it all their energy. Smooth sounds, great lead up to the funk era, and a good tribute to the Motown scene. Watch out, Supremes, this one is smokin' hot. Blast that shit! (Note: I'm feeling a little woozy from my cold so this post is a little thin)

Track Listing:
(Side 1)
The Name Game
Don't Let Go
Kansas City
Shy One
The Nitty Gritty

(Side 2)
Such a Night
C. C. Rider
I Never Will Forget
Stagger Lee
Whisper To Me Wind
Bring It On Home To Me

Shirley Ellis - NITTY GRITTY:

Sloth: Unstoppable & Due Date & Eclipse

Taking of Pelham 1 2 3 was really.. oh, sorry, I mean Unstoppable was really suspenseful the whole way through! Yes, they have the same director (Tony Scott) and lead actor (Denzel Washington, my third husband), but I couldn't help thinking most of the way through that these films are incredibly similar. Each director understandably has their own style, and Scott's is perfect for the genre he seems to pursue quite often, but it was too much of the same thing to go unnoticed. Denzel Washington plays some blue-collar, middle class guy with a family, who has been working at the same job long enough to be a little bitter, and is put in a situation that requires him to save the motherfucking day once again. And there's a train.

Chris Pine offers a bit of distraction from Denzel's repetitive role, but it's not enough to keep the storyline fresh and I find myself wondering why directors and writers always have to return to the same plots and twists. I did enjoy their bantering, and Scott has mastered the art of keeping suspense and tension at such high levels for really long periods of time. Check this one out if you like TRAINS and sexy family men, and feeling like you're going to burst into a million pieces from so much suspense for the entire two hours. Good fun! P.S. Rosario Dawson is adorable.

Due Date is a load of crap. Like most flicks of this genre that have been coming out recently (the Hangover, Role Models, Dinner For Schmucks, etc, etc), it tries to push our boundaries of funny while giving us bang for our buck. I realize I mentioned earlier in this post that directors and writers continue to use the same plots and twists (Due Date seemed to be a tribute to/rip off of Planes, Trains & Automobiles), but this one fails to hit the nail on the head. It tries to show us a bit of twisted comedy, but each time seemed weirder and weirder, until it got to the point of not really funny, but desperate instead. Robert Downey Jr. even manages to punch an 8-year-old kid in the stomach.

So much more could have been achieved with this film if the creators weren't focused on catching up with the new generation and giving them a new kind of funny they could relate to. Like keeping Ethan's (Zach Galifinakis) father's ashes in a coffee can (Big Lebowski, anyone???)... on a different note, Jamie Foxx is useless, but Juliette Lewis is wonderfully cute. One part of the film I did enjoy is when Robert Downey Jr. says he SWEARS he has never done drugs before. Ohh, so funny.

Twilight Saga's Eclipse delivers everything you could ever want from a hot, steamy teen drama/action/fantasy film with vampires and werewolves. If you consider the genre, the books the screenplay is based off of and the technology available, this one is fantastic piece of cinema (I have read the books... they are very similar to the films so you can imagine the amount of teenage angst and young love that had to be translated over). The CGI wolves are pretty cool and the wide shots of the West coast are gorgeous!

The creators managed to get most of the book in the film, and they worked around the classic stories of vampires and werewolves rather well, keeping parts of the traditional creatures while creating entirely new parts of an old genre of fiction. The choreography in the fight scenes aren't bad and you can tell they didn't leave any of the budget out when they made this one. The wigs even look kind of real, except for Victoria's (Bryce Dallas Howard), which was a hot fucking mess the entire time.

What I would like to see for the finale of such a strange series is the same quality of production, with maybe a little less breathing and lip-biting from Kristen Stewart and a little less eyeball from Robert Pattinson. Can't wait!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Sloth: Being Entertained During a Bout of Sickness

I've been down with a nasty cold for a couple of days now, with no sight of it lightening up (oooh, why not morph into an eye infection on top of it all? Sounds great, right?)... Aside from having to work on a couple of my other jobs due to deadlines, I've managed to get a couple of necessary days off from the full-time. During the brief moments between trying to cough up both lungs and sleeping so much it's almost a clinical coma, I've had a bit of time to fill with nonsense and entertainment. Maybe when all this is over I can post a shitty survival guide to the common cold... too bad I'm not exactly surviving. Below is a list of the different things that can keep you entertained when there is nothing to do but drink hot liquids and try not to infect the whole building:

#1 Get a list of BLOGS to read (the best are those that publish posts at LEAST once a day)

Dear Girls Above Me
This one is written by Charlie: he's a guy that lives beneath two young girls that happen to be extremely daft in a building with very thin walls/floors. Hilarity ensues!

A well-maintained blog of Do-It-Yourself projects and Design features (in mostly Interior Design and Graphic Design); updates more than once a day.

Sleep Talkin' Man
This poor guy talks in his sleep, and his wife records it and posts it every day in their blog. He's extremely vocal about his dreams and sometimes it's just too crazy; a post every day.

Three Fashion/Style Blogs that post at least once a day:
Jak & Jil Blog
The Sartorialist

Fantastic blogs of my friends:
Guise by Jennifer Burland
I GUESS I'M FLOATING by Rhea Da Costa-Clark
TOO RUDE Mag by Erin Pea
Gramma Jones by Graeme Maitland

#2 Get some good tunes going to keep your spirits up; here are a couple sites that have streaming capabilities:

Search for your favourite music (great amount of selection, just don't look for the Beatles 'cause you won't find 'em), or listen to their narrow selection of "radio" stations.

I like this one because it's user-based and allows anyone to create a themed playlist and publish it with streaming music for free. They're based on various categories, seemingly endless. Careful, some of them are just complete shit, but I find it's mostly 30% shit and 50% good and 20% brilliant. Happy Hunting!

User-based, allows musicians to upload their own tracks, add tags for a category search, and the ability to add comments throughout the track from the musician and anyone that feels the need to chat about it. Check out my buddy Blue Neptune (aka Minhaj; his website) for some ambient, techno, progressive house and progressive trance beats.

#3 Visual Stimulation is KEY; videos and movies galore!

What a mind-blowing site. This place is a great organization that hosts lectures from the most up-and-coming scientists, innovators, teachers, inspirational speakers, entertainers; stellar talks on important topics, or just some awe-inspiring acts from musicians and actors. I don't know why I'm spending so much time on this post when I should just be broadening my mind with this bad boy.

One-stop shop for user-based videos that aren't shit; think YouTube with class. I suggest EXPLORE>HD VIDEOS for an all-you-can-watch buffet of beauty and creativity.

TV Shack
Feel like being a pirate? Your basic streaming website for current flicks and past favourites, TV and Movies alike. I suggest watching An Idiot Abroad; a new series produced by SkyOne about a guy that doesn't enjoy traveling, being sent out by Ricky Gervais to visit the Seven Wonders of the World. Hilarious and you get to see the outdoors from your indoors!

Movie Trailers via Apple
Watch the latest trailers streamed in high-quality from the Apple website; this one sometimes posts some great International trailers.

#4 GAMES, that are FREE and can be quickly ended if you need a fast nap or to puke in the toilet.

Yahoo! Games
I've been playing these bad boys ever since my glory days in High School when I would spend 30% of class time at home being "sick" or "tired". Pool is fun!

WHAT! Yes, it's still around. Yes, I still have my old account, with my shop and my little Neopets. But the REALLY great part about this website is their collection of Flash games. Sure, they're made for kids, but holy shit they can take up a lot of your day and they're super creative. You have to sign up for an account, but once you've quickly done that it's smooth sailing from there. I like playing National Neopian, but that's only because I win lots of NEOPOINTS and can buy food for my Neopets, things for my shop, etc, etc... now I must seem pretty lame. Oh well... I have more Neopoints than you.

Lots, and lots of weird flash games. Not much else needs to be said about this one.

#5 Travel the World

Google Maps is brilliant. I really don't think I need to explain much since everyone knows about its capabilities; but just think about how you go to Street View to see if your favourite restaurant downtown is close to the subway, and then take that and go to PARIS. Or EGYPT. Ok bye!

If you're still bored and aren't sick enough to be entertained by all of this crap and should put some clothes on and get your lazy ass to work.

Feel better!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Sloth: Morning Glory

This film was actually more enjoyable than I could have ever imagined it being! Mark this day in history: I loved a movie my sister probably would have liked a lot. Even though it's filled with more cheese than a danish, it's surprisingly lovable and I didn't feel like anything was being shoved down my throat. I was expecting the lead roles to be extremes of their characters, and for the sappy music to play at precisely the right points (which it did...but in a good way), and to be sitting in a theatre watching a screen, but instead each character was believable (mostly... except for the weatherman, played by Matt Malloy) and I was sucked into the world of morning news shows the whole way through.

Rachel McAdams knows how to play sweet, innocent and persevering roles extremely well, even if she is battling some fairly hideous hairstyles throughout the first half of this film. Harrison Ford also managed to pull through on this one (I am mostly doubtful every time of his acting abilities), but he squeezed himself into a couple of suits and can do a grumpy, cantankerous old guy with some finesse. Diane Keaton is amazing in pretty much every sassy, older woman character she plays, and she looks great doing it.

This one serves up exactly the dish you expect and hope for, chalk-full of petty emotional rollercoasters of a young workaholic, mixed with some pretty mild make-out scenes (WORTH SITTING THROUGH JUST FOR MCADAMS' FINE ASS IN TINY PANTIES), and two seasoned actors having some jolly good fun. Patrick Wilson might as well have been anybody since he's mostly bland and just acts as a brief distraction throughout parts of the film. Jeff Goldblum needs to be in more movies (gah, I just love the guy), and despite his small role in this one, he played it fairly well! Go see this movie if you are capable of slipping away for a couple of hours, riding the happy-go-lucky train, and coming out the other side with a big sigh of "AWWW"...because that is exactly what came out of my mouth the moment the lights came up, the credits started rolling, and that terrible song started to play. You know, the one from the previews... ugh, Strip Me by Natasha Bedingfield. Here you go, I hope you don't get it stuck in your head for too many days in a row:

Thursday, November 11, 2010

FYE (For Your Ears): in the GARAGE

My Music Man (aka Joe) has introduced me to some phenomenal hip garage that blows my mind. I could dance all night to its rowdy beats and grungy sounds. Some of my favourites:

King Khan and The Shrines - (How Can I Keep You) Outta Harms Way

en francais...
Les Miserables - Miserablement Votres

Macabre - Be Forwarned

The Stooges - I Wanna Be Your Dog

Sloth: The Town

Last night I saw The Town with Wennie, and it was a fairly well-constructed piece of film! Nevermind being able to watch Ben Affleck for two hours running around the city with a gun...

Starting with a fairly substantial heist right away, Affleck dives into his style of some pretty shaken shots mixed with intense, slow-moving tight shots; it all sort of ebbs and flows like this throughout the film like a visual piece of Beethoven. He's also got the classic elements of a solid action-drama down pat: car chases, guns, explosions, money, women, etc. What he does add to the genre is his ability to really write a solid script with believable dialogue, not to mention offering his audience some great shots of Boston. His characters are realistic, and the acting abilities of the entire cast are pretty outstanding.

For some reason this film seemed to drag on a bit, especially towards the end. Possibly because the action sequences were well done and moved not-too-quickly, making the slow portions of the film seem very slow and the continuations between scenes seem like they took forever. Aside from the slower pace, it's a really great movie!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Vinyl Wednesday: Harry Belafonte At Carnegie Hall, the Complete Concert

This is one of my all-time favourite albums, and I was lucky enough to have found it on vinyl a couple of years ago in a little shop on Wellesley just at Yonge. It's in extremely good condition (as it should be, I threw down $19 bones for it!). The double record set comes as a full live recording from his performance at Carnegie Hall on April 19th and 20th of 1959.

The inside cover gives a great look into brief moments of the concert, in black and white photographs as well as an illustrative rendering done in purple. It starts with some recording notes on how they were able to get the recording at such a performance and with Belafonte's permission (it was actually a Benefit Concert for The New Lincoln School on April 19th and Wiltwyck School on April 20th).

I tried to pick which songs are my favourite to showcase in this post, but it's honestly too difficult since it's such a fantastic collection of songs and his live performance gives each of them such life and character. The real treat, however, is the very last recording, Matilda, in an uncut extended version... pure velvet.

Track Listing:
(Side 1)
Act I - Moods of the American Negro
Darlin' Cora
Cotton Fields
John Henry
Take My Mother Home

(Side 2)
The Marching Saints

Act II - In the Caribbean
Day O
Jamaica Farewell
Man Piaba
All My Trails

(Side 3)
Mama Look a Boo Boo
Come Back Liza
Man Smart (Woman Smarter)

Act III - Round the World
Hava Nageela
Danny Boy
Merci Bon Dieu

(Side 4)
Cu Cu Ru Cu Cu Paloma

Here is a recording of Matilda I found on YouTube.... it's nothing compared to the live version on the album!!!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Gluttony: Ohhh, SANDWICH!

AND JUICE! Food, you make me so happy. This big guy had 12-grain bread, Dijon mustard (with seeds), sliced tomato, old cheddar, avocado (probably my favourite food ever) and prosciutto. Grilled to perfection and served with some superb juice: mango juice (mango puree and pear juice), orange juice, half of a banana and some fresh raspberries. Given a little love from my Magic Bullet and off we gooo. Also, let us not forget about the Grilled Cheese tribute I made a while ago: I am in love.

I should do groceries more often....... Next up, SUSHI MAKING TIME TOMORROW YAAAAAAAAA

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Lust: My Love for Short Films

Over the past few years I've found that some of the best, and most enjoyable, pieces of art and story are in the form of a short film. It's such a versatile medium that allows an artist to create something tangible, with collaboration of other artists, and costing very little compared to a feature-length film. I've posted a few of my favourites that I've been able to find, animated and live action.

Das Rad (my favourite short of all time)

Evelyn: The Cutest Little Dead Girl (kind of shitty quality, also used to love this one when I was in highschool)

Bus 44

The Black Hole

Envy: You Wish You Saw Billy Connolly Live

Last night my mother and her boyfriend took me to see Billy Connolly live at Massey Hall. This guy is hilarious, I really love his stand-up that I've caught on the Internet. His live show last night was also quite funny, but he has aged a bit and was basically just spewing anecdotes for two hours. However, they were incredibly funny and his interpretation of Canada (TREE-O-RAMA) really hit the nail on the head. The best part of his act was the point at which he was describing the funniest thing he had ever heard. After spending a good 10 minutes building up to the joke, he finally gets to the good part: at a talent contest, his good mate was the MC and was interviewing the contestants before they performed. One special act was comprised of a young boy and his uncle, who happened to be in a wheelchair and was missing both his legs. The MC asked the boy, "So, if you don't mind my asking, what happened to your uncle?" The boy answers, "He was a window installer for many years, and one day as he was lifting a sheet of glass to place in the frame, a gust of wind came and knocked it out of his hands, letting it crash into his lap and consequently severing his legs." The MC, trying to move on, says "Oh, I'm terribly sorry to hear that. Um, so what is it you're doing for us today?" "We're singers" "What have you called yourselves then?" The punch line: "Simon and Half-Uncle!"

 I used to only catch glimpses of the man when I was a kid on bits of TV that my dad was watching, or in some random roles in a wide variety of movies, like Boondock Saints, Muppet Treasure Island, White Oleander, the Last Samurai and Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events. I also have to say that this man has a wonderfully quirky sense of style (definitely my kind of man)... his outfit last night consisted of a black t-shirt that was incredibly long only in the back, paired with black-and-white striped pants and what seemed to be a pair of Doc Martens with extremely high/thick soles. Hot!

 Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events

Boondock Saints

Here is a clip from his stand-up quick a few years ago; MASTURBATION, and what to do if you get caught (not safe for work)...

Monday, November 1, 2010

Pride: My Adorable Home-Made Costume and a Happy Hallowe'en!!!

This Hallowe'en Irene and I got all dressed up (I was a Dutch Milk Maid) and we went to Church street for a couple of hours to see everyone in their costumes. So much fun! Making our own costumes is very rewarding... next year is going to be crazy!

 Irene as a Greek Goddess

Dutch Milk Maid with FARM ANIMALS!




Another Cow! This was actually the first one I saw, and I was screaming "COW! COW! COW!" chasing after him down Church street trying to get his attention.