Friday, November 30, 2012

Week Wrap-Up

Pictures from my week:

This freaked me out more than it should have - I actually gasped.  Out of the corner of my eye, it looked very realistic.
My most recent foray into the young professional volunteer committee was working on the GenNext My City Masquerade charity casino event.  It was a great experience and a fabulous party!  We raised a lot of money for United Way and the turnout and enthusiasm was like no other.  There were actually four tuxedos that showed up!  With men in them, of course.  My mask looked like a bad ass face tattoo.
I went a little bake crazy this week.  I was invited to an American Thanksgiving party and with also hosting a dinner party it lead to a full time oven.  So delicious.  Except for that one cake where I completely forgot to include the sugar.  Still turned out okay and now you're not a diabetic.  Uh, you're welcome!
I went for an actual hike.  It was a beautiful Sunday and I couldn't think of a reason not to get outside.  I haven't hiked much lately and certainly don't really know where to go, so I ended up wandering aimlessly around Dundas.  Webster Falls was an option, but I'm sorry, I have a serious problem with paying to hike.  It would cost be either $4 or $10 to just....walk.  Ridiculous.  So I found my own trail.  Sure, it seemed to be in someone's backyard, but it did the trick.  Brisk air, sunshine, hiking boots (yes, I own some) - perfect November afternoon.  Only one muddy dog jumped up on me and those berries turned out to be non-poisonous.

Parental date weekend - I went to see Argo with my Dad and had brunch with my Mom.  Argo was amazing - one of the best movies I've seen in a while. Even though I knew how it would end, I was still on the edge of my seat and it's so pro-Canada :)  Brunch was at Detour in Dundas, a place I keep hearing about for great (and massive) breakfasts.  Walking around Dundas on a Saturday morning is like being in a movie, of which I am the star. 

Winter 2013 Fashion Forecast:
It's all about the fur.  My dressing room looks like a taxidermy.  Although, they're mostly all fake, so like a teddybear taxidermy.

She does. So does he.

My best friend Naomi married the love of her life, Tim on September 22, 2012.  I was privileged to be her Maid of Honour and it was one of the best days of the year.  The wedding went off without a hitch, Naomi looked immensely beautiful, the party was fun, my dress was great and I wish I could live the day over and over.  And it wasn't even MY wedding!

I know it was a while ago, but sometimes I forget that Facebook isn't my blog, hence the neglect.

And look! I discovered how to make photo collages!


Congratulations Mr. & Mrs.!!

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Documenting Documentaries

I've really been into documentaries recently - I think I've watched 8 in the last several weeks.  Along with my favourite French film, I'm turning into quite the pretentioso.  Pretentious people also make up their own words.

The World Before Her
This was a film I saw with a friend at the AGH World Film Festival and the trailer seemed pretty interesting.  The actual film was good, but I'm not sure it was a worthy use of one of the last sunny Sunday afternoons of summer.  The story followed two, of I presume several, paths Indian women can take - the beauty pageant contestant or the traditional militant.  Both were presented as different forms of brain washing and each party had very interesting reasons for their choices.  It was saddening to see the state of women's rights and particularly the situation of one woman, who initially was a comical villain-type was was actually someone trying to make the best of her unfortunate situation.  It was thought-provoking and cheerless.

The Cove
I had heard of this documentary long before Hayden Panettierre got a lot of press for getting involved and crying a lot.  (I am refraining from making a blubbering over blubber joke.  Oh look, I just did.)  Like everyone else, I know that dolphins are brilliant and need to be saved from all sorts of manmade evils that befall them.  But this documentary was so intense and distressful that I had to fast forward through some parts and I certainly teared up.

The one thing they mentioned that stood out to me was that the generation and era of activism has passed and there aren't nearly enough people taking on the cause as the warriors of the 60s and 70s start to age.  I certainly take for granted that the causes are being fueled and supported by others and my involvement is so far limited to signing online petitions and donating paltry amounts to charities.  But who is spearheading all these movements?  Who will in the next few decades?  Our generation is certainly more apathetic than those past and yet, my main thought right now is, "Was the use of the word 'spearheading' in poor taste?"

My Kid Could Paint That
This documentary was a welcome break from the heaviness and it was about a story I had heard in the news a few years ago.  A four year old girl's paintings begin selling for tens of thousands of dollars and appearing in prestigious galleries.  The art and media world went nuts.  Then came the backlash and a 60 Minutes piece suggesting that the father was, in fact, responsible for the paintings, at least in part.

It was a really interesting film and if I had been watching it with someone, I would have turned to them afterwards and asked if they thought the father was 'guilty' because I found it to be very subjective.  All the evidence is there but no conclusion was made.  If you see it, let me know and we can swap answers.

This doc is about a doc who raised 9 children with his wife in a 24' trailer as they spent their lives travelling, surfing and staying out of the public school system.  It follows this family into their forties and my thoughts about the father's principles and methods changed throughout the film.  Half whack job with intense methods, half creative parenting with a noble motivation, he was an interesting character.

Ultimately, his children were ill-prepared for the world when they reached adulthood and I found each of them to be slightly strange.  But it was a weird and wild ride watching them go from hippie surf babies to hippie surf adults.

Of course, I had heard of this story, but the documentary was underwhelming.  I found I was more curious about things the film did not answer, such as how they organized their new "home", what sort of leadership formed, how they spent their time.  It seems that I was looking for an episode of Lost.  My mistake.

No Impact Man
This film followed a New York family who tries to have no environmental impact over the course of one year.  No trash, no fuel, no waste etc.  While it seems like a worthy principle behind the lack of toilet paper, electricity and restaurants, I couldn't see myself doing it and it seemed a little joyless.  They identified unexpected benefits and managed to do fairly well, but it was so extreme that it made me appreciate the small things I have in my life that, yes, do produce waste but make me happy.  You know, like cheeseburgers.  My list of eco-activism is currently exhausted at using reusable bags at the grocery store, turning off lights when not in the room, strident recycling and walking if I can.  Yeah, I could stand to step it up a little.

Man On Wire
This movie was shockingly dull.  The tightrope walker is so passionate and enthusiastic about his life's dream, but I think he forgot that this film was meant to be shown to an audience. 

Bill Cunningham New York
I had heard about this geriatric photographer is the iconic blue jacket who bikes around New York City and snaps fashionable and interestingly dressed people for the New York Times.  He's an institution and a very interesting man, but I found myself frustrated at the filmmaker's inability to glean any real information about him as a person.  He's very private and cryptic and seems to live in a storage locker of sorts.  He's adorable and unpretentious - I found myself wanting to learn more about him.

Overall, I think I would recommend:

- My Kid Could Paint That
- The Cove
- The World Before Her
- Bill Cunningham

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Writing's On The Wall

This graffiti is just lazy and opportunistic.  Step it up, hoodlums.

Really, Mom?

Most people recognize the hot pink Holt Renfrew bag as something that contains a luxurious treat, a gift that will elevate a birthday to another level, whose contents will bring a state of joy and excitement not possible by regular wrapping paper.  It's like the blue/green Tiffany box.  The heart quickens its pace.  The mind wanders to material fantasies.  The hands open it slowly to extend the pleasure.

And then.... pull out a pair of orthopaedic insoles.

Mothers.  Only they can get away with giving you a gift like this.  And so deceptively in a Holt Renfrew bag.  I pretty sure she thinks I was turning 71 instead of 31.

Book 'Em, Bloggo

Well, there goes my great book title.  Might as well pack it in.

Have you read "Gone Girl" yet?
It's so far, the best book I've read all year.

I'm halfway through "Triburbia" and it's pretty great too.

Just a recommendation from your friendly neighbourhood lapsed librarian.

Hats Off. No, really.

I was recently representing my organization at a national conference and I received a pretty great swag bag.  It was filled with make-up and skin care products...and this:

Seriously.  I understand the value of brand placement and marketing, but who would ever wear this?

Chicago = "meh"

Due to the facts that I love planning things, enjoy urban travel, have friends who are game and have a name that lends itself so wonderfully to a pun, Melebration is my birthday tradition that took us to Chicago this year.

I have been to Chicago once before, but it was for a winter church missions trip that was full of soup kitchens and painting apartments in the projects.  This time the trip would be extremely different.  Besides the obvious lack of tenements, it was summer, I am no longer 16 and my main goal was to experience the best of the city with fewer guilty pangs.

Ryan, Julie, Elo, and Paul joined me on the adventure and we spent 4 days in what I was expecting to be "New York City Lite".  Not so much.

We did all the expected touristy things - ate at the Cheesecake Factory, went up the Hancock Building, took the highly recommended architechture boat tour, shopped the Magnificent Mile, toured around Navy Pier and eventually made it to the beach.  But somehow, for me, Chicago just fell a little flat.

Once I realized that Chicago wasn't really doing it for me, I purposely struck out on my own to find the cool pockets and interesting neighbourhoods I had heard so much about.  Little did I know that to get to supposedly eclectic Wicker Park, I had to take a long taxi ride along underpasses and highways and was very disappointed to find nothing of note there.

We had extraordinarily bad food luck and never really found an amazing restaurant, the weather was kinda of crummy all weekend and I can only do so much shopping, so I didn't fly away thinking that Chicago was anything special.

In talking to people afterwards, it seems to be a city where you need to visit someone who lives there and who can direct you to (and make advance reservations for) great restaurants and who can show you amazing neighbourhoods.  It's not like New York where you can spend an entire weekend walking around and hit a dozen different neighbourhoods and countless magnificent places.

Chicago is not "New York City Lite".  It's it not even in the same realm as NYC.  It's very "meh".  I'm sure that I will give it another try and some point and maybe see a completely different side of the city - it's got such a great reputation! - but for now, while being with my friends was, of course, the most fun, Chicago is not for me.

But, now, enough belly-aching (that was reserved for the deep dish pizza) - onto the pictures!

 On my last day, I got up very early in one last attempt to find redeeming qualities about Chicago.  I went to Lincoln Park, the zoo and the beach.  The beach was glorious and I concede that this is one thing Manhattan does not have.  I wish it had been a warmer weekend and that I had discovered it sooner.

 Cloud Gate (aka The Bean)
 Finally a genius answer to the table waiting game.  Sure, it will be a 45 minute wait, but you place your order ahead of time and when your name is called, your pizza is ready.  Why hasn't everyone thought of this?
 The pizza was quite good and the drinks even better.
 Ok, whoa, it looks like my right cheek is about to burst off my face.  It's like a tumour!  Given my plate, it's probably filled with pizza.
 A girl and her boy friends.
 Taxicab confessions: we're all hungry.
 We had a surprisingly sweet hotel room that was huge!
 Aw, our cute and small friend Julie.  She's so wee!  With 5'10" and 6'4" tall dinner companions, she wasn't even given a chance.
 Finally, sunshine!  At the Lincoln Park Zoo and Observatory.
 You'll notice 6 tickets in my hand (and a bald creeper) and yet one of us slept through it.  Guesses?

 ...and Ryan's interpretation of art.