Sunday, October 29, 2006

Wicked and porno bathrooms

I went to see Wicked at the Canon Theatre today and I understand now why it was so successful on Broadway. The story of Elphaba and Glinda is funny and touching, and the lyrics and music are smart and catchy.

I've had a weekend of good stories, beginning with The Thirteenth Tale and now with Wicked: I found out how the Scarecrow, Tinman and Cowardly Lion came to be, as well as the flying monkeys; and the significance of the ruby slippers came to light. All in all, a very clever story.

It was a funny coincidence to find The Wizard of Oz on television. I tuned in long enough to see Dorothy and her entourage's first visit to the wizard and her subsequent capture by the wicked witch of the west.

It was so freakin' windy today that I thought I was going to be blown away while walking down the street. It never occured to me that I might have been hit by some flying debris--like the poor woman who was knocked unconscious and bleeding with injuries to her head and leg when a falling tree branch hit her. And then there's the story of how the winds were so strong that they were able to blow down a townhouse under construction!

As to the porno bathrooms, I first heard about them from my friend who had gone to visit a new condo development in King West. The design was much-hyped so we thought we'd go for a visit for curiosity's sake.

So what makes a bathroom a porno bathroom, you might ask? Well, it's as simple as a window or glass wall seperating the bathroom from the bedroom. We saw a second PB in another model suite not 10 minutes this the latest trend in condo design? I find it tacky...and rather alarming. Call me a prude, I don't care.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

The Thirteenth Tale

Half my book order was waiting for me when I got home from work last night and I was wary of getting into either of them right away. I knew the first title would be The Thirteenth Tale given all the buzz, besides which, I wasn't in the mood for the non-fiction that was So Many Books, So Little Time. Given my book funk of late, the pessimist in me was worried that I would be disappointed, the optimist in me was worried I would get so caught up in the mood that I would neglect practicing for my Mandarin class. (I've been a very bad student all week having not opened my textbook at all since class ended last Saturday.)

Can I just say: Wow.

(warning: spoilers ahead)

I started the book last night around 9:30 as the rain fell (after spending a couple hours practicing my vocabulary, of course) and was up until almost 2am reading. I was caught up in the story right away because of the main character, Margaret. Her passion for reading reminded me of my own not so long ago when I used to read through the night because a certain pageturner had captured my imagination. The anecdote about why she never stands when she reads made me laugh out loud: when she was a child, she sat on a wall reading The Water Babies. She was so taken in by the evocative story that she unconsciously relaxed her body completely as if she were weightless in water--only to fall off the wall and knock herself out. "Reading can be dangerous," she deadpans, and this is when I knew that I had found the right book.

I must admit that as I got deeper into the novel, I was a bit scared about how it would end. What if it was completely predictable...I found the incest between Charlie and Isabelle to be a bit trite, but the rest of the story was great.

I was amused by Dr. Clifton's prescription to Margaret after she had fallen ill from a night out in the rain: he asked her if she liked to read books like Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights, and Sense and Sensibility. His reply when she replied yes inspired a smile: "You are suffering from an ailment that afflicts ladies of romantic imagination. Symptoms include fainting, weariness, loss of appetite, low spirits...unlike the heroines of your favourite novels, your constitution has not been weakened by the privations of life in earlier, harsher centuries...You'll survive." And his scribbled prescription? This, too, made me laugh: "Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, The Case-book of Sherlock Holmes. Take ten pages, twice a day, till end of course." Ha!

After class and errands about town, I settled in for some more this afternoon. The twist in the plot surprised me as I didn't see it coming...but it made sense in the end...everything mostly tied up in a neat little bow--except that we don't ever really know for sure who survived the fire...

The Thirteenth Tale of the story is revealed...and it struck me immediately how this make-believe book and its stories sounded similar to Politically Correct Bedtime Stories. Anyway, it's clear that the reason why this last story was unfinished was because this was the story of the mysterious Miss. Winter. It's brilliant how everything came full circle in the end--the fictional thirteenth tale is revealed just as the truth is finally recorded.

Finally, I loved the Margaret finishes the tale by taking into consideration the feelings of the reader in wanting to know what happens after the story ends--does everyone live happily ever after? We're left with a teaser of a potential romance and that's the end. Just brilliant!

I'm looking forward to Brick Lane. I suspect it will arrive on Monday since I got an email yesterday to say that it was shipped....I'm rubbing my hands in anticipation already!

Slide, baby, slide!

There was an item in today's paper about a gigantic slide at the Tate Modern in London. Carsten Holler, the German artist to which we have to thank for this fabulous playground thinks they're a great means of reducing stress and depression. To me, they look like pure fun.

According to the website, the exhibit runs until April 9 of next year. I wanna go!!!! I wasn't planning on going back to Europe again so soon...but my cousin DOES miss me, and I'd love to spend time with her and meet her new beau...and now there are the slides!!!

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Commitment-phobe am I

After a very domestic weekend shopping with my mother for new occasional tables for the family room and a dishwasher for the kitchen, I felt the need for a little retail therapy for me and me alone. And since I had a $50 gift card for Indigo, I went online for new books—as if I needed any more, given the reading funk I’ve been in lately.

As usual, I’ve got a glut of unread books on my shelves but nothing seems to appeal long enough to hold my attention. I never used to cheat on my books…I would make the commitment and read one and one alone. Now I find it difficult to be faithful so I have 2 or 3 on the go. The last title I found engaging enough to compel me to spend the entire weekend reading was The Kiterunner around this time last year…that’s quite the dry spell, wouldn’t you say?

My latest purchases include:
- The Thirteenth Tale, the latest international bestseller which has gotten a lot of buzz lately;
- Brick Lane which was one of the big titles from a few years ago that I've heard about and had been meaning to pick up;
- Fried Eggs with Chopsticks: Around China by Any Means Necessary by Polly Evans, who wrote It’s Not About the Tapas: A Spanish Adventure on Two Wheels, a travel memoir about her cycling trip across Spain which I quite enjoyed; and
- So Many Books, So Little Time: A Year of Passionate Reading by Sara Evans who chronicles her goal of reading a book a week for a year. The idea of reading a book a week has some appeal...I seem to recall a column published in the Globe and Mail(?) about just such a feat, but I could have just imagined it.

These books should arrive on my doorstep sometime next week since they’re all available for shipment within 24 hours.

Meanwhile, I’m also keeping myself busy trying to figure out what to do in NYC in a couple weeks—there’s just so much to do and only 3 nights and 2 days to do it in once travel days are taken into consideration. Not enough time!!!

Thursday, October 19, 2006

I call bullshit

Oddly enough, one of the things I really miss about working downtown--aside from the great people watching and shopping in the PATH on my lunch hour--is my commute in on public transit because this was my time to read the newspaper...I'd get through the hard news and business on the ride in, and save the features and crossword for the ride home. Now, I listen to 680 News--all news, all the time and traffic and weather together on the ones.

This morning there was a news item on a study in Maclean's magazine about how the internet is a complete disappointment despite all the money that's been invested in it. Well, I call bullshit.

Yes, the internet has opened the door to scam artists, identity theft, and viruses...but what about all the good? Thanks to the internet, we're all connected: we can keep in touch with family and friends all over the world and access resources when we need answers.

Consider this article about Ask Metafilter, a community weblog akin to Google Answers in which members post questions and get answers from the community. The fantastic question cited about the member looking for a Vienna phonebook circa 1938 in the hopes of finding the apartment where his grandfather lived before fleeing the Nazis is here. It gives me the warmfuzzies and wonder about the kindness of virtual strangers.*

On a more personal note: if it wasn't for the internet, I wouldn't have gotten the lovely surprise of an email in my inbox from none other than my crush, Alain de Botton(!) Apparently, a fan of my blog (I have a fan??) at M&S, his Canadian publisher, sent him the link. Eeek! How embarassed am I to know that he's read the gushy ramblings about my school-girl-crush on him? I haven't yet had the nerve to reply back.

So, yes, I call bullshit. The internet is da bomb.

*Speaking of the kindness of strangers, check out the book of the same title here. It's a collection of true stories by travellers who were helped by a Good Samaritan along the way. Some of them are quite exceptional.

The Clean Break

I just got off the phone with my cousin in Amsterdam, and it's funny how I was dishing out relationship advice that I should have been heeding myself all along.

Long, complicated story short: she broke up with him and he's not ready to let go....which is essentially the position I was in a year ago. The difference though is that they live in the same city while my relationship was handicapped by geography as well as time zone...the former, of course, is far more conducive to relationship post-mortems in cases where one party wants to try to work things out.

I know it's dangerous to be giving out relationship advice, but he called me twice before finally getting through to me so how could I not be there for him when it's clear he needs someone to talk to at 3am?

From the outside looking in, it sounds like she's already left the relationship and there is no going back to try to make things work. My advice was for a clean break--if she really thinks he's the one, then who's to say that she won't still be there when he comes back from working abroad? Who's to say that he won't meet someone else? If they were meant to be together, they will be together.Things as they stand now are too complicated and I've lately become a believer in the KISS school of thought--Keep It Simple, Stupid.

So a CLEAN BREAK now so that maybe, just maybe there can be a clean beginning later on. This is not to say that he should be living in the past, wallowing in the hopes that she'll come back to him. (Been there, done that.)

His words? "I hate you."

To which I retorted: "You only hate me because you know I'm right. And you really love me or you wouldn't be calling me at 3am."

Heh. Hindsight. Always 20/20.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

The Traffic Flow Mix sees me through

After my miserably rainy drive in this morning, I was dreading the rainy drive home...but it turned out to be not so bad after all. And it was all thanks to the Traffic Flow Mix with DJ Starting From Scratch on Flow 93.5:

I was greeted by some great tunes from the Bad Boy era of Biggie Smalls and Total, which flowed into Donnell Jones' Knocks Me Off My Feet...NeYo's Sexy Love...TLC's Baby Baby Baby...SWV and Love Will Be Right Here...which, interestingly enough segued perfectly into Maroon 5's This Love, thanks to the rockin' bass in the background....the perfect drive home mix that had me bopping my head and singing along despite the gloomy skies and gridlock! : )

Rain Rain Rain

What is it about rain that traffic slows to a crawl?? I woke up this morning to the pitter patter of raindrops on the roof and grey skies peaking through my blinds and all I wanted to do was roll over and go back to sleep.

But I drove into work and here I sit, trying to get into a research report. blah.

Monday, October 16, 2006

LTR - Week 3: W1/R5

I just got back from my run...a run that I was tempted to bail on but didn't because I felt guilty. Plus, I don't want to face that disapproving look from my friend A tomorrow at work when he asks me if I went to the gym. Nothing like peer pressure sometimes to haul one's ass to the gym.

I'm glad I went because I feel great. I'm going to hurry and hit the shower so I can spend some time tonight working on an idea I have for a necklace with citrines and carnelians!

The BIG dig

Ever since I discovered that my condo development had live construction feed on its website, I've been dropping by just about every day. I know. I'm a total geek. But it's certainly far more convenient than driving by the actual site.

I especially enjoy seeing the construction workers walk about--they remind me of Lego toy men. ;)

The hole just gets deeper and deeper....I wonder when they'll finally get around to pouring the foundation....? Hopefully soon as it's supposed to be ready for occupancy next September. Keeping my fingers crossed that it will be ready on time....

September 20 @ 11:57am

September 21 @ 1:03pm

October 1 @ 4:40pm

October 6 @ 11:18am

October 12 @ 10:51am

October 16 @ 11:49am

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Achey head. Must sleep.

The Star's architecture critic interviewed my crush, ADB, and the article was in today's paper here. He's just brilliant. And has a point about architecture in Toronto.

I went to my mandarin class this morning and after waffling for an hour or two, decided to go for a run in the afternoon. I spent a couple hours playing with my beads, had dinner and now have a headache that I just can't shake. : (

So to bed I go to sleep it off.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Beep. Beep. Beep.

My alarm rang at 7am and the thought crossed my mind to call in sick after last night's interrupted sleep.

Running in the evening leaves me a bit wired so I end up sleeping later than my usual midnight. This being the case, I turned in around 1am, only to be awoken an hour later by my brother clomping up the stairs from the basement to complain that our home alarm system was going off. It was not the loud, obnoxious siren that signals a breach of security, but an irritating, incessant, high-pitched beeping coming from the basement.

The "Trouble" light was on but there was no trouble to be found and punching in the code for the system didn't do the trick. After about10 minutes of frustrated swearing and hitting of buttons, the beeping stopped and we returned to bed. 15 minutes later, the beeping began again. This time around, my mother and I ignored it and left my brother to deal with it.

I considered getting up to help, but what could I do? I figured it was about time he took some responsibility around the house anyway, and acted like a man instead of a baby. And he dealt with it. He called the alarm company, and around 3am, the beeping stopped. He came upstairs to tell me to re-set my clock since he had to flip the switch in the fuse box to stop the beeping, and that was that. The silence of the night reined again.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Alain de Botton at DX

Photo Credit: Charlotte de Botton

I have a confession to make: Since hearing him speak tonight at The Design Exchange on his latest book, The Architecture of Happiness, I am slightly embarassed to admit that I have developed a full-blown-school-girl crush on Alain de Botton.

All my worries about him not living up to expectation in real life were for naught because he was as erudite and subtley funny as I had hoped he would be.

He gave an hour-long lecture that seems to follow the structure of his book fairly faithfully. In the 20 minute Q&A that followed, he was asked to comment on the popularity of loft living and his reply impressed me since he prefaced it by saying that he didn't yet have an opinion. He essentially suggests that it's quite telling that loft living is an urban phenomenon since it's typically white-collar workers who are attracted to these industrial-like spaces; the last thing a blue-collar worker would want to do after a long day of toiling in the factory is to return to a home that reminded them of work; they would choose to be closer to more natural surroundings (i.e. the suburbs with green space, etc.) He elaborated further and I just fell a bit deeper into my little crush.

I bought his book afterwards and we shared a moment because he smiled at me when he handed me back my signed copy. Definitely way cuter in person. ;)

I couldn't help but gush about my dear Alain as we were walking to Spring Rolls for dinner. Despite complaining that my crush had made him lose his appetite, my friend still managed to finish all the tofu I'd left from my pad thai, this, after polishing off his own meal too. I guess he wasn't that put-off after all.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Learn to Run - Week 2: w1/r3 redux

I just got back from the gym and feel so energized! My LTR program was interrupted by duties around the house and after 2 weeks away, I'm finally back and am determined to stick with it.

I walk/ran 2.5 miles today in 34 minutes...all in all, not bad, considering I upped my running speed right from the start and didn't succumb to the dreaded cramps halfway through my run. Yay for me! ;)

Monday, October 09, 2006

Real Home Renos: Kitchen B & A

We spent most of our Thanksgiving weekend trying to get the main floor organized and cleaned up in time for our family dinner last night. Here's the before:

and the after:

The kitchen isn't completely finished since the piece of wood that should run above the sink covering the potlights is still missing. The original piece that was cut was too short so once that's installed, and we get a new dishwasher and microwave, the kitchen will be done done done!

We left the layout as before since the existing work triangle of sink to stove to fridge was perfectly functional. I've gotta say that I'm loving the convenience of being able to take a hot pot straight from stove top to granite counter without having to worry about placing it on a trivet. And while you can't tell from the picture because it was taken in the absence of sunlight, the kitchen is sooo much brighter.

I'm very pleased.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Boys are more than stupid

My brother got on my last nerve tonight. I've been waiting for him to help me put on the doors to our last Billy bookcase and he's been unavailable for the last couple nights.

He was surfing on the laptop with the TV on in the background when I asked for help and he said he'd help me "later." And that's when I lost it on him.

Even though the renovations are done, the house still looked like a mess. My mother is slowly losing her mind (no joke here--among other things, she's completely forgetful and I worry about her sometimes) and I've been busy at work doing NOTHING when I'd rather be home cleaning and organizing so that the house looks like a home again.

My brother? He comes home, eats dinner, and then decides that he's going to go to the gym to work out when there's shitloads to do at home. He's NOT ONCE asked whether he can help with anything. And when he's asked, it's on his time.

So I got pissed. So pissed that I couldn't articulate how pissed I was. And I cried angry, frustrated tears. And my mother had to get pissed too.

After much yelling on both our parts, he finally hauls his ass upstairs from the basement and he's giving me attitude, as if I was in the wrong. For something that took him all of 20 minutes to do, he had to be a jerk and get everyone upset.

One thing we have in common in our family is quick tempers...but the good thing is that we don't hold grudges. He realized what an ass he was in the 20 minutes it took us to finish putting on the doors and he ended up helping the rest of the night. And what a difference in the house.

The paint cans and other stuff that littered the centre hall have been cleared away and we hung up some art work. My mother's little TV in the kitchen was installed and that brought a smile to her face.

Our house looks like a home again...mostly. There's more work to do this weekend but the house should be in some semblance of order for Thanksgiving dinner. What a relief that is! :)

Monday, October 02, 2006

Status, NYC and Billy doors

I didn't do anything at work today because there was no work for me to do, so I surfed the net. My bi-weekly status meeting was scheduled for today, so my manager and I went out for a coffee. Over the course of our 1 hour meeting, I told him I was bored and he asked me if I was looking for a new job, so I told him yes. It was a fairly honest meeting, and considering he is just as frustrated by how not busy we are, he understood where I was coming from. Long story short, he offered to serve as my reference if I needed one.

When I got back to my desk, there was an email waiting for me from my girlfriend based in LA. We've been talking about doing a girls' weekend somewhere and after some discussion, decided on NYC sometime over the Remembrance Day weekend. She's arriving at JFK via Milan as she'll be there for business, and I'll be flying in from Toronto to meet her. With her travel itinerary confirmed, I could book my flight.

I was hoping to book a flight using points and went through all the reward programs I'm a member of: I had more than enough Aeroplan points for a flight but the times that there were seats available were just not convenient. I also had enough points to book a flight through my Avion Visa, but the cost of my flight exceeded the maximum allowable dollar value. My final option was through AIR MILES, and I was a little skeptical as to the availability of flights, but lo and behold, there were plenty of options available.

Now, flights from Toronto to NYC normally land in LaGuardia, but I'll be flying American Airlines this time and there just so happens to be one flight from TO to NYC's JFK. The happy coincidence is that my flight arrives just about the time my girlfriend will probably clear customs from her flight via Milan, so we should be able to meet at JFK and get a ride into town together! Yay!! NYC, here we come!

The rest of my evening was rather frustrating as it was spent trying to put the house back in order--which, like the renovations before this, seems to be taking forever. My brother helped move more furniture up from the basement and then decided to selfishly go to the gym. (I hate that I always have to remind him that he lives in this house too.)

Anyway, we had spent this past Saturday putting together our Billy bookcases but hadn't gotten around to putting the pretty Nickleby doors on. I thought it would be so easy but it turned out to be so hard. Even with my brother's help it took us a stupid 1.5 hours to put a pair of doors on! We still had one more Billy to see to, but by the time we were finished the first pair, it was 11 pm, and we were tired from our ordeal. There's time enough to deal with it tomorrow.
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