Monday, September 29, 2008

Esthetic Sensitivity Daisy Chain

The Graphic Bandit introduced me to the The Workroom, a "sew and craft by the hour space".

The Workroom's owner also keeps a blog called Make Something.

Make Something mentioned sassy printed fabrics designed by Heather Ross. At Heather Ross' site I also found her stationary designs and learned she sells a line of sleepwear under the label Munki Munki. Feel free to buy me the "Bird" silk pajamas and silk/cashmere wrap. Thanks.

Now I am slightly obsessed with thinking up projects (that I will never sew), for Heather Ross' delightful prints of horses and camper vans and "goldfish I have loved".

Also, I am lusting after these Nantaka Joy notebooks, but I must follow the instructions on this Trees with Knees wallet.

The wallet I discovered from the Nantaka Joy's blog.

Thank you, Graphic Bandit! You are the portal to all pretty, wonderful, and pretty wonderful things!

Honey Honey Cake Cake

It is 1:40am as I write, so I'll make this short and SWEET. I'll let you google all other Rosh Hashana info yourself. This blog post is hereby devoted to honey cake recipes:

Marcy Goldman's Moist and Majestic Honey Cake - the one I will probably get around to making with buckwheat honey - Smitten Kitchen bakes it here

Cookthink's recipe from 2007. She misses her grandma, I miss my aunt. Sigh.

Eat the Blog - adapted from a Ruth Sirkis recipe

Baroness Tapuzina's honey cake as adapted from The New Israeli Food cookbook

Bureka Boy posts two versions of honey cake and both look delicious

Adorable Honey Cake - made with honey wine! and Chocolate Fig Honey Cake (drool) both from the Food Network

One Honey of a Cake - from the Parve Baker

Bella's Honey Cake - with raisins and walnuts from Homemakers magazine (remember them?)

Lastly, a Honey Bundt cake from Recipezaar and here's a Magen David-shaped bundt pan to bake it in.

Shana Tova v'Metukah!

(If you're wondering about my free clip-art trend, it's 'cause my camera display is broken... but you can print up the clip-art and color it in! Free activities!)

Alice's Face: Part II

Tim Burton's Alice is a newcomer named Mia Wasikowska. She has an almost medieval or renaissance face - something about the placid eyes and nearly invisible eyebrows that reminds me of Boticelli's Primavera. She has, I think, a face people can project onto. It is somehow not self-defining.

I saw the photo of her from the back first and noticed that Burton had gone, again, with the curled blonde locks that he used for both Christina Ricci in Sleepy Hollow and Jayne Wisener in Sweeney Todd. When I saw the photo of her front, I got a non-impression. I can imagine that the casting department really didn't know "what they were looking for till they saw it". She's not cute, not beautiful, not ugly, not striking, not exactly pretty, but certainly not hard on the eyes - not this, not that - so what does her face say? What does it say to you?

I got the same impression, by the way, upon seeing the casting of Lyra from the film of The Golden Compass.

Maybe casting directors are afraid to "pin down" a face for a fictional character that might disappoint the book's fans, so they play it safe with faces that are somewhat on the mild side?

This is what drew my mind back to Istvan Szabo's comments on faces.

Perhaps Wasikowska, when projected on the screen, captivates in a way I can not yet anticipate. I admit I've never seen her act, so perhaps she fully becomes Alice. (Although, Alice, I will also admit, does not have much "depth"- she is essentialy a self-involved, curious, and precocious child.)

I don't know what Tim Burton's vision for Alice is: Wasikowska is 18, while Alice Liddell, the real Alice the book was written for, was 10 at the time it was written.

It will also be interesting to see who Burton casts as the Duchess and as the Red Queen.

Alice in Wonderland is scheduled for release in 2010 so you have time to read the book if you haven't yet. Here's a little bit more of it for you:

'I couldn't afford to learn it.' said the Mock Turtle with a sigh. 'I only took the regular course.'

'What was that?' inquired Alice.

'Reeling and Writhing, of course, to begin with,' the Mock Turtle replied; 'and then the different branches of Arithmetic—Ambition, Distraction, Uglification, and Derision.'

'I never heard of "Uglification,"' Alice ventured to say. 'What is it?'

The Gryphon lifted up both its paws in surprise. 'What! Never heard of uglifying!' it exclaimed. 'You know what to beautify is, I suppose?'

'Yes,' said Alice doubtfully: 'it means—to—make—anything—prettier.'

'Well, then,' the Gryphon went on, 'if you don't know what to uglify is, you ARE a simpleton.'

Alice did not feel encouraged to ask any more questions about it, so she turned to the Mock Turtle, and said 'What else had you to learn?'

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Alice's Face: Part I

Around 2004 I went to see a film by Istvan Szabo at Cinematheque and he spoke at the screening. He said something about how certain faces - not necessarily beautiful faces - captivate viewers when they are shown on screen. I'm paraphrasing from memory, but I think he wondered whether certain faces contained a universal appeal or if they had something that allowed a great number of people to project an emotion (or an ideal or a familiarity, or one's self) onto them.

I was surfing around IMDb and I discovered that Tim Burton is directing a live-action /CG 3D Alice in Wonderland.

I had mixed reactions. While I like Tim Burton's work a lot, I'm not convinced that Alice in Wonderland has ever succeeded in its transposition to the screen. Perhaps I'm a purist and can't let go of the original Tenniel illustrations. (I do not even think that any of the contemporary illustrators for Alice have done a memorable job.) Possibly, because I read The Annotated Alice, in which Martin Gardner delves into the mathematics and Victorian references behind the text. Mostly, I believe, because the joy of the book is not in the story, but in the telling of it - in the wordplay. How do you get this in a film:

"However, this bottle was NOT marked 'poison,' so Alice ventured to taste it, and finding it very nice, (it had, in fact, a sort of mixed flavour of cherry-tart, custard, pine-apple, roast turkey, toffee, and hot buttered toast,) she very soon finished it off."

I'm sure that Burton's Mad Tea Party will be sublime - especially as Johnny Depp will play the Mad Hatter - but there's something a bit predictable about it all. Tenniel's illustrations will come to life... with STRIPES! While Alice's Adventures in Wonderland can be quite dark, I wonder if Burton's "darkness" is the right...tone?

I started out talking about faces, didn't I?

So here's...

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Spartans and Russets and Spys, Oh My!

It's been a weird summer in Toronto. Not much heat. But now that Autumn's here, we can get to the fun stuff: apple picking!

Chudleigh's has realized that to turn a profit, they must expand. They have a petting zoo and hay rides, and a shop for knick-knacks and apple-related food stuffs. They've had these things for a while. Unfortunately, they are now calling themselves an "Entertainment Farm". A terrible term, it impinges on my urbanite fantasy of escaping to the farm for a day. If you call it an Entertainment Farm, I expect you are growing tap dancers, or have violinists in trees waiting to serenade us as we pick. Or possibly, Guitar Hero in the barn - I don't know. (And I'm not even considering the lewd options there - I leave that to you.)

I supposed I should just be happy they didn't call it "Farmetainment".

My favourite apples-from-the-tree are Spartans. They are crisp and tart-sweet and divine and NOTHING like the mushy Macintoshy "Spartans" you get in the stores.

A note for those to whom I've promised apples: neither Fuji nor Russett are in season yet - sorry!

Take Back the (Girly Movie) Night

Last week I rented DVDs. They were all girly and lots of fun:

Eve and the Fire Horse - very cute memoir-ish film that looks at the intersection of two religions from a child's perspective
Being Julia - Annette Bening is wonderful, but the story itself doesn't quite stand the test of time
Marie Antoinette - eye candy
Miss Potter - lots of fun and very sweet, but I can't help but wonder if Emily Watson (who plays a supporting role) should've been cast as Beatrix Potter

So. I was going to return the DVDs tonight before midnight, as they are due. However, because there is a rapist on the loose in this city, my mother offered to pay my overdue fines if I promised not to return the movies tonight.
That is sad.

The quotes that are coming out of this news story are also sad.

On the radio I heard a police officer saying "she did everything right" about the victim. I guess he means that she was walking in a well-lit area in a non-sketchy part of town, but it's a bit like saying "we can't blame the victim in this case!". Maybe I'm being overly sensitive. And if she did fight back, that would be kind of good to hear too. Recovery from trauma differs when the victim is able to fight back (even if s/he is unsuccessful). The news story above has the police quoted as saying "He's the kind of person we need to catch" about the rapist. What the heck does that mean? In this case, I could use a little movie-speak: "We're gonna get this bastard" or "Forensics are working on it, and we'll get him, alive or dead".

Really, it's bad enough with both American and Canadian elections coming up. I don't want my police force to be mealy-mouthed too. Find him and put him away. And if you accidentally hit him with a cruiser... oops.

Is it technology or are you just a jerk?

Seeing as I now carry earplugs in my purse because hearing other people's music on the subway give me commuter rage, this Canadian documentary is right up my alley:

To Hell with Manners: The Decline of Civility

That link is to a CTV interview. There's the predictable bla-bla about technology disengaging people, but nothing particularly insightful. I assume the film itself is better.

Don't get me wrong in my snotty righteousness, I'm getting ruder too. It does take effort to be polite - especially when someone around you is not - still, I ought to behave the way I wish others would, I guess.

Thank you
for reading.

Feel free to rant (cleanly) in the comments about rude people and their litter and their lung-collapsing bass car audio systems, and their spitting and urinating INSIDE elevators...

Monday, September 15, 2008

The Princess Bride Game

No really - I clicked on a banner ad (oh yes, I did) and found a Princess Bride Game.

The characters (except for Buttercup) are pretty true to the movie. I'm surprised that such a classic movie would get such low-key marketing approach.

I watched the little video about it and it looks okay. It's just that if you're going to take my favourite movie (female, 25-34), why not make a video game that would appeal to me - an atypical video game playing demographic? Why make it look like every other video game? The style (from what I hear, since I don't play), looks almost Super-Mario-ish.

Perhaps I'll try it and tell you what I think...

In the meantime, if you are someone who actually plays video games, please weigh in!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Sex and Marriage

"She says an unexpected benefit of daily sex was the kindness it required of the couple."

The quote above is from an interesting book review of two books by two (different) couples who have tried instituting a "daily sex" policy . Read it here. Various PhDs and sex therapists weigh in on the pros and cons.

And a slightly older book about a not-quite-daily-sex policy, "Kosher Sex" by Shmuely Boteach, here.

(Orchid photo from last year's Orchid Show at the Toronto Botanical Gardens, 'cause I'm subtle like that.)

Monday, September 08, 2008

Canadian Literary Magazines

In honour of the upcoming Word on the Street at Queen's Park and the International Festival of Authors at Harbourfront, here is a list of Canadian Literary Magazines and a link to a "writer's toolbox" (writing advice) from Geist magazine.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

The Voice Fades

Don LaFontaine died on Monday, September 1st. He was much parodied, but a master of his craft. Rest in peace.