Archives for the month of: February, 2012

Everyone is “up” this week at work. Not sure what exactly is going on, but everyone looks great, has springs in their steps and are just generally in a good mood.

It is a great situation.

Perhaps related, this week is “Random Acts of Kindness” Week, not just at my workplace, but like all internationally, yo.

People have been posting stories about how much they appreciate kindness is others and moments where someone did a random act of kindness to them.

It is a lovely way to start the day, reading about all these nice things people have to say.

In the breath, I have to tell you that on some level it is a bit depressing as well – why should we need a week out of the whole year to do this or to recognize kindness in others? Man, I think kindness is about how you live your life, it is something to do everyday, every moment, every time you interact with someone.

I want to be someone who recognizes kindness and is able to tell someone right away “I appreciate you being you, in my life, doing that thing you do”.

You know what I mean.

I think, for me, it is important to express these things to people in my life, so they are clear about what they mean to me and how they contribute to someone’s, my, life.

Today, I was supposed to have a project meeting, which ended up being cancelled, but no worries, we are on track and will be meeting on Friday as well. And we kept our lunch plans and you know what? My friend treated me! It was a great surprise.

Even better, after we got back to work she let me know that after talking to me she felt better about things.

Much better.

And knowing that, knowing that simply talking, listening to someone when they have stuff to say makes them feel better. Well, that is something worth being indeed…

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“Hugo” is directed by Martin Scorsese, screen play written by John Logan, based on a book by Brian Selznick.

I was going to take a “pass” on this movie – from the previews, it just seemed like an overly sentimental bit of tripe. And get that Scorsese is a film genius or whatever, but I don’t always like his stuff, just not to my taste.

Oh, how happy I am that a dear friend invited me along and my want to hang out with her and her boyfriend over-rode any wish to skip this movie.

First, I feel like I should address the 3D, ‘cuz you know I don’t really like it.

Remember all that stuff I said about the use of 3D in “Pina”? Well, Scorsese take the 3D technology and uses as if he were born to nothing but. Between the camera angles, the inventiveness of shots, the wild imaginative use of 3D, Scorsese makes everyone else before “Hugo” look like they are merely playing with adult toys. James Cameron may have brought 3D back to film, but Martin Scorsese perfected it. For any film student or person who just plain loves film – the reviews are right, this is film making 101,  at it’s very best.

The surface story is simple, an orphan lives in secret in the Paris Train Station in 1930s and, while keeping the station clocks running, attempts to repair a mechanical man that is the last link he has to his father. He befriends a girl, who, strangely, possesses the key that makes the mechanical man to work. The result is an unfolding and rediscovery of a film genius who the world forgot.

And yes, there were a couple of moments that were a bit sweet for my tastes, but they pass quickly and painlessly.

The music is lovely and the cast is tight and has a sense of ensemble. The sets and costumes just make me want to go Paris. Right now.

Interestingly, this is the second movie of the season that, as well as telling a story, provides commentary of film technologies at the same time. I wonder if this is a trend or a sign that film has now become something akin to “literary criticism”, that is, that which only comments on itself. It seems to me that when a field/art form starts doing this as a pattern it is a sign that it is becoming self-focused and begins to shut out new forms and ways of expression and interpretation – I’m curious what will happen next.

Storytelling-wise, this is a good film, but I have to tell you, I felt that there was a significant thread of the plot left unfinished and that was very disappointing.

This is one of those films that is best to see on the big screen – the 3D is worth the cost of admission and I’m not sure how strong the film would be without it. It is an experience.

Enjoy!

And for those sensitive souls among us, take some tissues!

In the midst of all the ‘Happy Valentine’s Day” greetings flying around, I decided to break from the pack and wish people ‘Happy early Lupercalia!” which lead to most of my day being spent explaining what the heck Lupercalia is and why I would wish people to have a “Happy” one anyway.

In most cases I kept it simple – the day the werewolf (or wolves, depending on the population you are dealing with) chooses a mate for one year.

For some, this whole “one year” thing seemed like a pretty good idea, sane, especially that part where, if after a year isn’t working, you find a new mate and do it all over again.

In one case, I made the unfortunate error of commenting on Lupercalia involving whips and werewolves, was the feast day appropriated by Christians and…look the conversation pretty much devolved from there.

What I learned today: when trying to have a conversation with a guy, don’t mention the word “whips”, otherwise he may make all sorts of unfounded assumptions about things that are certainly not work appropriate.

I had to stop the conversation and clarify which one of us was being socially awkward, ‘cuz seriously that was a good conversation gone horribly, horribly wrong.

As I was doing my final walk to get water this afternoon, I ended up walking behind one of my colleagues. We greeted each other and it just so happened that we were walking on exactly the same route – I felt that he would think I was following him! I wasn’t, I was just going the same route. Suddenly, his footsteps stopped. He slipped into the elevator alcove to surprise me. I surprised him first and explained myself, just in case he thought I was being all stalker-ish.

3 x 24 cupcakes tonight. I’m a bit disappointed in the Mayan chocolate ones – the texture is off and you can’t really taste the subtle flavours. I think I have to try again, only this time I will make all the components rather than using a mix.

I ended up using one of the champagnes I got yesterday – the Muscato, a spumanti. And you know what – it is pretty lovely. But it was complete garbage to make – seriously, it took me forever and the measurements were way off for the kind of sugar I like to use.

Look, here is the big reveal. I don’t use white sugar, the kind from beets. I use cane sugar. This means a couple of things – what I bake doesn’t have such a large impact on insulin levels, the sugar doesn’t tastes as “sweet” and it doesn’t “melt” the same way the white sugar does. This last point means that I often have to use more “wet” in order to make the ingredients mix properly and get the right texture. This was a killer for this recipe – I used maybe about 3 times the amount of champagne that the recipe called for! Crazy.

I was pretty good, too, about posting pics to FB and keeping people informed about the progress. Pretty good pics too. But have to say it seems like that all I ever post about is when it is about cupcakes. I’m a-ok with that.

Re-connected on FB with a friend from high school tonight.

You know what is really nice? When a friend from high school, who knew you when you were cute and sexy and had excellent hair, calls you sexy and “babe” years and years later. It really shouldn’t have, but it made me feel great, he even said how “sexy and unusual” it was that I mostly go by “bex” now.

It is like, hey world, look at me! bex – I’m all sexy and unusual!

The upside for today is living through the socially awkward moment, once we established that I was being socially awkward, we just re-started the conversation and moved past it, which I think is the right thing to do. Of course, we did have more socially awkward moments, but I just ignored them and plowed on ahead. Which is sometimes the right things to do. Too.

Sometimes hot yoga wins, sometimes cupcakes win.

This morning, I was all about hot yoga, but by the time work was over, it was all about cupcakes.

I’ve picked up a very dear friend for the past week, getting her in the am and dropping her off in the pm and it has been very enjoyable, tonight I dropped her off in the pm and suddenly, I was compelled to go to the store to get some sparkling wine…so off I went!

Dinner of sparkling wine and turkey meatball subway, ignored the whole “make lunch for the next day” thing and concentrated on making some cupcake batter. Tonight it was all about the Mayan hot chocolate batter and lemon lavender batter…so I only need to put those in the oven on Tuesday night and make up the batter for the champagne cupcakes…I have to admit that I totally messed the champagne up – I was supposed to get sweet champagne and instead I got dry!

I don’t know what I was thinking!

Perhaps I wasn’t at all.

So, I’m currently reading the graphic novel series “The Walking Dead” and I should probably do a proper review of it, but I’m not going to, ok?

I have to tell you that I’m loving it – it brings forward these whole issues of how we react at the end of the world, how we act when there are no laws and no societal mores to govern us…who are we out of context.

And I’m also greatly enjoying the conversation I’m having with the guy who is loaning me the graphic novels – he is not only generous with his things, but also with his willingness to talk about these things that my mind provokes.

Of course, I missed the return of the TV series, but was told, by various and sundry, is that is very good, so excited about that.

In light of my champagne error I made the best of it and started to drink. I’ve made very good progress too – I even drunk-dialed a dear friend of mine that I haven’t seen in ages and now we have plans for Friday. You can think what you want, but sometimes liquidity works.

Things are good right now, keeping busy, staying out of trouble, mostly. And making new friends. And holding onto older ones.

Yes, a pretty fabulous Monday.

And I’m a bit worried that this post makes no sense ‘cuz I’m all drunk…

After 5 climbs this morning – 2 x 5.9 + 1 x 5.8 + 2 x 5.10- – it was lunch and then a random quest.

This week, I’m making cupcakes.

Only.

Well, they are all in honour of Lupercalia, so I’m “theme-ing” them. All designed to keep werewolves away, you know what I mean.

The first flavour is lemon-lavender. Which, is one of my very fav flavour combos. Only, to do it safely, you have use culinary lavender, which is cultivated without pesticides. Weeds aren’t the only things that pesticides kill or make sick.

Only trouble is, culinary lavender is hard to find, if you don’t live near a lavender farm.

I don’t live near a lavender farm.

So…

The next flavour is a Mayan chocolate – this one is a tribute to Soma’s Mayan hot chocolate mix. I love chocolate, but pair chocolate with spice – orange peel, ginger, cinnamon, chipotle peppers…well, it takes it to a whole new level. Depth and height and a complexity of taste

The final flavour is champagne with rose icing. But, earlier today, I was trying to figure out what the rose-flavour would be…I was thinking rose water…which is too sweet, but will probably be ok.

Ok, so first stop is Soma, the King Street West Location. The location is beautiful, calm and serene. The goodies are all neatly organized in pretty packages and looks like there are some new sizes. I pick up the large size of the Mayan Hot Chocolate mix and a pack of the ‘lady’s kisses’ cookies, ‘cuz…yum. Ok?

After I pay, I linger and chat and ogle the truffles.

Mental note to self: return soon and get some of those balsamic vinegar truffles…

Cross the street and take a look-see for culinary lavender in this shop that from the outside, seems to be all about fresh and herbs.

Nope, not here.

Onto transit, get off at the last stop and, instead of getting another streetcar, I walk.

This is stupid mistake. It is cold outside and this walk is a lot longer in the cold.

I make it to a super grocery store and figure on a look-see and, nope. Not here either.

Back out into the cold and –

Suddenly, there I am.

The boy behind the counter greets me with a cheery “that is a big hood!”

My coat really has a big hood. It is very warm.

I agree and explain my quest to the boy.

He helps me out. After many loud expressions about how he didn’t know lavender could be eaten.

I describe the cupcake flavour – lemon-lavender – and then talk about garlic-lemon-lavender roast chicken. He remarks that his mum loves lavender, so I tell him he should try cooking something for her.

Then I tell him about the Mayan Chocolate flavour and show him the package.

Just before we ring it up – it hits me.

I’m in this totally cool store and they have all sots of things, so why not get rosewater while I’m here.

We run around the store looking for it.

No luck.

No rosewater.

But –

The boy finds dried roses.

me: can we eat these?

the boy: people use them to make tea.

me: that means we can eat them.

I explain the remaining flavour and somehow, we end up trading movie recommendations.

Suddenly –

the boy: why are you cool?

me: why?

the boy: I mean, how are you so cool?

This is a question I cannot answer. I just am.

And with this weather, I’m not cool, I’m cold.

Make it to the train station, on the train and off to the grocery store to get the raw materials for making the “cake’ parts of the cupcakes. And without a list, I’m forgetful and neglect a few things.

At home, I clean, prep for making a mess, you know.

Do the floors, do the dishes and then make up some icing.

I’ve never worked much with dried flowers before, but I figure, why not give them a bit of liquid first, then make the icing, that way the flavour with have a change to disperse a bit and be more even.

Both work and are now stored in the fridge.

Dinner is late and a strange affair. But, yum.

Then excellent phone call with a dear friend who I’ve been woefully out of touch with recently.

Great conversation.

Some kind of excellent Saturday.

“Pina” is directed by Wim Wenders, screenplay by Wim Wenders.

“Pina” is a tribute to the late Pina Bausch, choreographer.

This film lacks everything that I generally look for in a film: dialogue, characters, plot etc.

But, still, great film.

Most of the film consists of performances and parts of performances of dance pieces choreographed by Pina Bausch.

The 3D effect added a depth which made it seem like the audience were seeing the piece on a stage instead of seeing it on film – I have never seen such a wonderful use of 3D before, it felt natural and real and gave the film a warm and realism that a traditional film may not have imparted.

I should be clear that I’m not a modern “fan” – but the play of gravity, the way the bodies of the dancers move through space was incredible, very compelling, so, I guess, if I’m not a “fan”, I can at least appreciate it…

Part way through the film, in addition to the music for the dances, there are voice overs of different dancers from Pina Bausch’s dance company and it is so wonderful to hear from dancers who worked with her for 20 years or more – they offer touching insight into the person and choreographer that Pina was.

Without knowing anything about Pina Bausch, this film was an enjoyable way to spend the time. A few times during the movie, my companion for the evening leaned over and said “I have no idea what I’m watching – but I’m loving it!”

I felt the same way.

Spent much of the day struggling with IT issues.

I think if I were a different person it would have been very, very frustration. But, being the person I am, it was actually kind of interesting. I emailed in my problem, got a suggestion and tried it and then a ton of ideas I could think of…nothing worked.

So, I decided to try from home.

It worked!

This means that the problem is about what I guessed it is.

And you know, I should probably be irritated that I keep giving solutions and then being questioned about my suggested course of action. But, I’m not – I find the different perspective interesting, gives me something to think about.

No matter how you slice it, it was a great day.

Even though the IT issues were ongoing, I managed to get some stuff done and I continue to make progress on the projects.

Then, I got a call from my manager, who needed me to “run something” over to her at a meeting – so I played “Kiki’s Delivery Service” and got a chance to crash an important meeting. And brag about my awesome lunch (5spice chicken with peanut sauce – woo!).

Had a funny moment during lunch – right into reading my book, you know, to the exclusion of everything else, and one of my colleague snuck-up on me and scared me. Yikes!

We had a good conversation about zombies and what is going with “The Walking Dead”. Fun fact – apparently one our departments has discussion groups about zombies and “The Walking Dead”. Like, in-depth discussions.

And it isn’t my department.

I’m not even invited to these “All About Zombie” sessions.

Then we talked about my pen for a while.

I’m always ready to talk about my pen – it is pretty much the best pen in the universe.

I was feeling hyped up about the IT issues and wanting to try out a few things at home, so forewent the gym and came straight home. The beautiful thing about this was that it was still light out when I got home – which meant today is was light when I left and light when I got home! Lovely.

This also meant that I had time to put that quiche in the oven and chop up some tomato to be a different veggie from the carrot sticks from lunch. Fun fact – when my friend surprised me that carrot stick I was eating almost killed me!

I’m fine,I’m fine.

Dinner was excellent, even without champagne.

Then, it was time to work. Again.

And whoa, what work I got done. Things are truly shaping up.

Want to know what I’m working on? A website!

Cool, yeah? Me doing a website. So far it has 12 pages and has random headers – not a lot of content now, but the build is coming along nicely.

Another great day – conversations, learning things, getting things done and reading an awesome book. Makes me think that Thursday is going to be a-ok.