Monday, June 28, 2010

London Calling, on multiple lines

While my London venture is still over two months away, I am already feeling a whole bunch of emotions.

I'm excited. A degree focused on nothing but art? I couldn't be happier. And plus it will be at a school that has a stellar reputation in art circles and said school is an easy walk down the road from the stellar National Gallery, one of the many London museums which are free.

I'm scared. Oh no, I'm going back to school (initial excitement fades in and out). So far some of my classmates sound super cool (read: AH!), Fulbright scholars, museum employees... After my initial freakout, I settle into the absolute privilege of it all. These are the sorts of people I WANT to surround myself with. Just breathe in, dive in.

I'm apprehensive. London is a gargantuan city. However will I take it all in? However will I connect to the art scene? When I start thinking about it all, I become really really small.

I'm thrilled. It's London! A city bursting with energy and life and elegance and opportunity.

I'm hopeful. I want my life to revolve around art. Well this is the first step in establishing the credentials to make it all happen. Valiantly forward I go.

I'm tentative. What ultimately are my ambitions? Where am I going to end up? Am I going to pursue a PhD? I fear that my academic style will clash with the one being taught. What if I am not to the same level? Ultimately though, I want to be true to myself. I must be headstrong in my own vision of the way I see things.

It is a mess of emotions, ultimately great. Nothing worth doing was ever easy or without a good dose of fear. I am diving into a pool of art, knowing full well what I want out of my education and knowing what my style of writing and reflecting is. It will be about being true to myself but also being open to the growth and new challenges that will present themselves.

So for now, I'm putting London on hold ;)

Sunday, June 27, 2010

The Individual Body

A few weeks ago I went to a "Core Empowerment" workshop. I went because, for a long time, I've felt that I haven't been connecting to my core. Or maybe it was because I wanted great abs, or something. Too often I find myself wishing for some sort of super toned body that just seems impossible to achieve. Don't we all compare ourselves to others? Prod ourselves, torture ourselves, complain about the way we look, wish we looked different than we do? But over the course of the workshop, I began to realize that all that pining and torturing and wishing was all for naught.

If I wanted to get crazy abs, maybe I could take some supplements, go to the gym and do target exercises and get superficial results superfast. But that isn't my style, since I believe in a more holistic workout and relying simply on my own body weight to build strength. But I also learned in this workshop was that the real barometer of abdominal strength has nothing to do with external appearances. You can have a six pack and be weak, you can have a no-pack and be super strong. It's the individual that counts.

Your individual body knows which exercises make it groove into health, make it radiate. Your body processes movement in its own way. I can be in the best shape of my life and still only be mildly toned. It's quite special to take pride in your body for what it is, learning the way it shines, accepting its unique shape of health.

I may go to yoga classes for the community, but ultimately, it is my own individual journey, discovering the complexities of my psyche, harnessing the strength of my body. Once I lose all the comparisons and doubts, I can get to an individual place of power, focus and light.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

"...and suddenly a vacuum player started up..." - Glenn Gould

"I happened to be practicing at the piano one day – I clearly recall, not that it matters, that it was a fugue by Mozart, K. 394… and suddenly a vacuum player started up just beside the instrument. Well, the result was that in the louder passages, this luminously diatonic music in which Mozart deliberately imitates the technique of Sebastian Bach became surrounded with a halo of vibrato, rather the effect you might get if you sang in the bathtub with both ears full of water and shook your head from side to side all at once. And in the softer passages I couldn’t hear any sound that I was making at all. I could feel, of course – I could sense the tactile relation with the keyboard, which is replete with its own kind of acoustical associations, and I could imagine what I was doing, but I couldn’t actually hear it. But the strange thing was that all of it suddenly sounded better than it had without the vacuum cleaner, and those parts which I couldn’t actually hear sounded best of all. Well, for years thereafter, and still today, if I am in a great hurry to acquire an imprint of some new score on my mind, I simulate the effect of the vacuum cleaner by placing some totally contrary noises as close to the instrument as I can. It doesn’t matter what noise, really—TV westerns, Beatles records, anything loud will suffice—because what I managed to learn through the accidental coming together of Mozart and the vacuum cleaner was that the inner ear of the imagination is very much more powerful a stimulant than is any amount of outward observation." -Glenn Gould

Friday, June 18, 2010

Montreal Shows its True Colors

Since Canada doesn't have a World Cup Team (as my friend Nadira so aptly put it, "We're better on ice), Montreal is free to bring out their flags in support of whichever team they pledge allegiance to. Flags (of England, Greece, Portugal, Spain, Greece, Holland...) fly freely from car windows, draped down over balconies and have become evening shawls as well. The cafes along St Viateur were packed with rapt fans (especially during the Greece match) and the streets drone quietly with the sound of the vuvuzela. It truly is a wonderful celebration of the many cultures that make Montreal such a beautifully vibrant city.

Short, Cheap and Sometimes Satisfactory

At the Montreal Fringe, the shows are short, cheap and sometimes highly entertaining. In the case of Robby Who? it was so short that it was over before I could really get into it. While Robby Hoffman is a hoot and has great potential, I think the show fell a little flat in being so short (Hoffman was only on stage for about 15 minutes of the total 30 minute comedy show).

The Dirty Little Spoons did a little better. Their slightly gauche variety hour had lots of funny moments and was absolutely bursting with energy. If nothing else, it's a delight to see the four actresses pour their guts out on stage. There were moments that dragged a little long, but overall it was a good laugh. A show worth seeing if you want a laugh, but not a show worth going out of your way to see.

Shoshinz: A Day in the Life of Miss Hiccup was a colourful, positively delightful hour of slightly physical comedy and pure musicality (and not a single word). Great for kids and kids-at-heart, the show from Japanese comedian Yanomi is a silly little show that will have you smiling. A great little number.

Monday, June 14, 2010

The Jesus is in the Jello

The only thing wrong with Jesus Jello was the hellishly-hot room it was located in. But a ensemble of superb spot-on comedic acting, creative set design and original writing (and a bowl full of lime green Jell-o) more than made up for all the sweat. Praise be to God!

I smiled all the way through this one. Tristan D. Lalla definitely stole the show. Joanne Sarazen's script was razor sharp, or more like tickly-feather light, making me giggle and guffaw the whole way through. Jesus Jello fired on all cylinders, an excellent on-point cast made this the best show of the Fringe thus far and an ABSOLUTE MUST SEE!

Sunday, June 13, 2010


There was a certain finesse and precision in the two minute preview of «autrui nm (ô-trui)» at the Fringe-for-All that had me instantly hooked. I was not disappointed.

The production was flawless; staging and lighting effects along with sound manipulation were seamless, transporting the audience to two strange worlds. Transportative definitely is the word to describe this piece up at Tangente until June 20th. And Enthralling.

Katia-Marie Germain and Eugenie Khoury are two very talented choreographers, mining precision movements and the poetic spaces between. You should go discover their worlds.

My Own Private Fringe Show

I was the only one in the audience. There were more people on stage than in the seats. I was outnumbered. But THREE (whose title's meaning still escapes me) was well worth the awkwardness of being the only one to see their premiere performance. And, upon further reflection, perhaps it was even apropos given what the show exposed. The troupe presented a complex, layered production that masterfully used projection and other theatrical effects to expose our multimedia world and the demise of the text. Script and action echoed, layering multiple representations, multiplying meaning, or losing it. I didn't think it was possible to create such fragmentation and layering in a live theatrical piece, but they did it. What does it mean to live today? Does what we say really matter? When reality is so exposed through Internet media, what do our words and actions mean anymore? -- Curious to ask yourself these questions? Go see THREE.

On Friday, I went to see How to Survive an Existential Crisis. I went because I had been intrigued by the preview at the Fringe-For-All. I was disappointed. Jake Smith bombarded the audience with a heap of cliches related to existentialism, all while in his underwear and bathrobe. There were great little moments of original writing and a lovely guitar song, but otherwise the show was lacking. I'm not sure if there were technical difficulties, but the lighting effects were just downright weird. All in all, I'd advise against this show, spend your $10 elsewhere.

Friday, June 11, 2010

From Long Black to Café Alongé

When I landed in Sydney, I wasn't a devotee of the caffeine. However, when I left, I had been seduced by more than one cup of cappuccino. Arriving back in Montreal, I wondered if I would find the same quality coffee.

So far, I have witnessed textured milk with foam leaning more towards whipped cream than milk (ahem, Cafe Souvenir and Nespresso [although, truth be told, to the true coffee connoisseur, Nespresso can't be taken seriously from the beginning]. The milk in Montreal is definitely not as finessed as that in Australia (I am still baffled as to how coffee culture has become so elite in the most isolated of continents). Textured milk should be seamless, blending just right with the coffee, a duet.

Have I become a coffee snob because of my Australian barista training?

At Cafe Neve and Cafe Myriade, perhaps two of the most lauded cafes in the city, I've had very good capps. But I'm not wholly satisfied just yet. Maybe I've been spoiled by the hint of chocolate powder sprinkled into my milky coffee drinks in Australia. I am looking for a smoother symbiosis of silky hot milk and espresso, with a sensual sip that makes you spring to life. I am willing to continue my quest, I have faith in this city. I think I should go back to these two cafes and sample others in the city. Where is that excellent cup of coffee? Australia has set the bar high. I do hear good things about Caffe Art Java, and I am willing to go back to Neve when its Melbourne-born owner, Luke Spicer, is juggling the handles.

Buon Caffé!