Sunday, August 28, 2005

Farewell My Concubine by Lilian Lee ***

Set in China in the first half of the last century, Farewell My Concubine follows the lives and careers of two Peking Opera stars. Moving from their childhood together under the skillful but brutal tutalage of their opera teacher, to national stardom, vilification under the Cultural Revolution, and finally to their reconciliation at old age, this novel travels through an incredible path of cultural change in China's history. The story acts as an exploration of the changing and often contradictory cultural response to the arts in China.

The novel is written in the trademark simplicity and beauty of Chinese literature, but it seems to fall short in some ways. The characters are often quite unlikable, which undermines the effectiveness of the drama. The simplicity of the narrative style works well to highlight the sometimes complex changes that happen to the characters and the country as a whole, but I found I would have been interested in reading more detail about the cultural changes that took place in that period of China (the rise of communism and China's Cultural Revolution has always been an interest of mine).

Farewell My Concubine was made into a film staring the lovely Gong Li (Raise the Red Lantern).

Where will I live?

The real estate agents have finally turned their attention to me and have sent me a list of listings (that sounds redundant, but it isn't) of properties on the market. I've been pretty much talked into giving up on a townhouse and going for a condo instead. The pros: It's smaller, so easier to clean; There's a possibility that I'll find one with an exercise room/pool; I can think of myself as one of those "hip young professionals" that condos seems to be marketed towards; There's a good chance that it'll be less than 50 years old (unlike many of the townhouses in this city). The cons: It's smaller, so I won't have as much room and will have to be more organized; No backyard and very likely no balcony or even kitchen window; Many condominiums don't allow pets, so that severely narrows my search (not to mention eliminates a lot of the really nice ones downtown); No front porch on which to sit with a glass of lemonade and my knitting, serenely waving at my neighbours (not that I do that now, but I'd like to).

The way I think of it, it's only for a few years. After that Nyron and I will probably be moving to England or getting ready to buy our own house or something equally adult like that.

I've asked the agent to set me up with appointments to see 4 of them on Tuesday so Nyron can come too. My cousin Sharon also drove me around yesterday and we discovered some condos that weren't on the list for me to inquire about. I'll let you know how it turns out as this blog becomes The Great Condo Hunt.

o( )__

Saturday, August 20, 2005

Who would steal a recycle bin, honestly?!

I am a very organized person. I like there to be an easily recognized place for everything to live in. This is why I am very particular about having 3 recycle bins on my front porch: one for paper, one for glass/plastic, one for aluminum. I know they probably all get mixed up in the truck anyway, but what if they don't? Anyway, I'm an eighties child; I was taught to seperate my recyclables.

Which is part of the reason why I'm so ticked off. I mean, who steals a recycle bin?! A full recycle bin at that! In order to take it they had to dump all the glass and plastic out of it into the aluminum bin. It's not like these are hard to get, the city wants everyone to have them, so why do people have to steal mine? I knew the last time this happened (oh yes, this isn't the first time) that I should have written my address on it in big black marker. ARGH!

Oh well, what it really comes down to is that this isn't my house anymore, so it really doens't matter. I'm going to go eat some left-over Chinese take-away with Nyron. Yum.

o( )__

And now the construction has moved to my house

I haven't heard construction sounds from next door in a while now. It's been nice to be able to sleep past 7am without having to ignore the sounds of machismo-increasing power tools coming in my bedroom window.

That doesn't mean that Im enjoying peace and quiet, however. The sale on the house closed yesterday and at this very moment the buyer is downstairs with a friend starting his remodling of the basement. Spirit is the only one of the cats who seems unconcerned by the steccato bangs and crashes that vibrate the floor. The other two our hiding valiantly under the armchair (although Sebastian spends most of his time there, anyway). Oh well. I'm moving as soon as I can find a place which hopefully won't be too long. Come to think of it, the 3 straight summers of noise pollution coming from next door has made this seem almost like a series of soft whispers drifting up from the basement. Maybe if I get tired the vibrations will lull me to sleep.

o( )__

Friday, August 19, 2005

All rain and no chores makes Brooke a lazy beaver

One of the things I love about Toronto are the frequent summer thunder storms we get. I've always loved the energy and noise of a storm, especially when I'm warm and cozy indoors. The sound of the rain is so soothing to me that for as long as I can remember my dad would leave my bedroom window open on rainy nights to help me sleep.

Today we are having one of those stormy days, only it's proving a bit of a nuisance. The cats are terrified and won't come out from behind the armchair in the corner of the livingroom. In fact, this morning Nyron and I had a tiny panic when we couldn't find Hyde at all! Turns out he'd actually hidden underneath the armchair! I was hoping to be able to work on socializing them some more today, especially Hyde who still won't let us pick him up, but it seems that it's a no go. Hyde won't let me near him and even Sebastian hissed when I tried to pet him earlier. It's become clear to us that these cats are not at all used to being picked up or handled. I often wonder if they've had any direct interaction with humans at all before I got them. (For a complete recount of our attempts to socialize these psycho-kittens, read my other blog.)

The other thing that makes this rain a nuisance instead of soothing is that I'd planned to get some laundry done today. Normally the rain wouldn't affect that, but since there's no door to the basement and we need to keep the cats on the main floor because they keep getting into the walls, we've had to barracade the doorway to the basement. Which means that in order to do tha laundry I actually have to go outside and re-enter the house via the backdoor which leads down to the laundry room. I put a load in a few minutes ago, just before another huge downpour started. Ask me how thrilled I am about the prospect of getting soaked just to change over the wash. Go ahead, ask me.

Oh well. This is a fine excuse to not get anything at all done today. It's always good to look on the bright side of a situation. : )

o( )__

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

I can't wait to move

On occation I have made jokes about how my house is making me sick. "I'm allergice to my house" was my MSN Messenger sign-in name for a week after I got back home. It turns out, I may have been closer to the truth than I realized.

I'd always known about the mold in the house and the fact that it was very likely one of the "bad kinds" that make people sick. This has since been confirmed by the appraiser who was in last week. Now it turns out that some of the insulation in the attic is asbestos-based, one of the most contagious kinds. All last week my house has been a revolving door of inspectors and contractors making estimates. I just got a call today from one of the real estate agents who called to warned me not to go into the room with the attack hole and to keep the door closed.

The good news is, he's anxious to find me a new place to move into asap, which is perfectly fine by me! The sale closes on the 19th and soon after the buyer will be in to start doing renos. Another good thing is that we're trying to find a way to block off the basement so that he can work, which means forcing my 2 new adopted cats to get used to living on the main floor and I can stop worrying about them getting stuck somewhere downstairs or getting sick from all the mold.

o( )__

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

The Unintensional Assistant Director

That's me. I'm the Unintensional Assistant Director.

With the copious free time that a life as an unemployed lay-about affords me, I decided to apply to do continuity/art department on a few local short films. I sent out about half a dozen resumes to various prouductions and it wasn't long before I started getting calls. I took the first one that came along (not knowing that within 2 days I'd be contacted by three more productions!). The director asked me if I'd be AD and since I'd only put continuity and art department on my resume, my mind equated AD to Art Director. Sure, fine; it's a bit of a responsibility jump, but I can handle it.

This afternoon was the first rehersal. When I arrived the director sat down with me and started handing me release forms and all kinds of other stuff that I've never really had to deal with before. And that's when it clicked in: AD = Assistant Director. Oh my.

But not to worry. The super bull shit powers that my BA in English has granted me helped keep the slight look of panic out of my eyes as I scanned for anything in the sheets and forms that looked familier. But as the afternoon wore on, things started to settle down. I mean, she has my resume, she knows I have no experience in this, so she doesn't look surprised or put off when I don't seem to know what I'm doing. And by the end of the rehersal, I was discussing shots with the DOP and giving the actors direction.

This will be good experience for me. I'm being forced to work outside of my frame of knowledge and still keep afloat. Plus, as AD, I get to make sure that all the things I need done for continuity and set design are done the way I want them. Mmmm, control.

o( )__

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Free books!

This morning Nyron attended the Random House preview. Not only does this give him information about the hot new books that haven't hit the shelves yet, he also gets to take heaps of free books home with him; and the home to which he chose to deliver them, was mine. : )

He brought over 12 books, including the only copy of Salman Rushdie's new book, Shalimar the Clown, that was offered. I have a bookcrossing bookring book that I have a month to read before I have to mail it off again and the Diana Wynne Jones Chrestomanci series that Nyron is insisting I read so that we can chat about it, but once I've done those I can't wait to dig in to these advanced copies.

o( )__

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Visited Countries Map

This is a map of all the coutries I've been to in the world. It's not much, but I'll be adding to the list in years to come.

create your own visited countries map
or vertaling Duits Nederlands

Saturday, August 06, 2005

On the road again

The waiting and suspence is over. I am moving once again. My parents accepted an offer on the house and I will be out of here as soon as I can find a town house in my price range. I'm not sure if my parents are planning on buying it and renting it to me or if they'll just cough up the rent until I get a job. I still have to call Joe the Real Estate Guy and figure it all out.

I had a job interview the other day and it didn't go so well. I didn't get the job because of my results on a spelling test! Can you believe it? I'm sure at that moment one of my old English teachers smiled and suddenly thought, 'I told you so' without really knowing why. I think the reason I did so poorly is because I'm not used to having to spell check a list of words and say which ones are wrong. I'm used to seeing words in prose and in that context it makes much more sense to me. The words that I didn't pick up on are words I know and would have caught if they were in context and not standing alone. Oh well, no use playing a game of shoulda-coulda-woulda, it's done. Moving on.

Tim's still here, although my mom went home on Monday. My grandmother's also still here but she's staying at my cousin's so we haven't seen her much. Tim and I have spent most of our time watching movies, playing PS2 and getting stoned. I've had to stop smoking pot, though, because my lungs are bad enough as it is. Sorry everyone, but looks like I'll be a second-hand smoker from now on.

o( )__

Thursday, August 04, 2005

When you turn 95 the Prime Minister sends you a birthday card

My great-grandmother turned 95 last weekend. We had a big party for her and some of my family from in Nova Scotia came (my mom, brother, and grandmother). The party was held in the recreation room of her elder-care residence and on one of the table was a signed certificate from Paul Martin congradulating her on living so long. I'm told that if she reaches 100 the queen will give her a watch.

o( )__