Monday, March 28, 2011

Sunday, March 20, 2011

a duck, a chicken, and a quail: the omelette debate, a joint sunday morning conference with the pancake question

Those living on the fourth floor of Duchy House know my friend Tess and I to be a little nuts. We are the adventurous duo in the kitchen, baking beets, making our own hummus, and concocting any number of meals. We love to cook, it's obvious.

Seeing goose eggs at the market last week, we came up with the idea to compare different eggs and see how they taste. So this morning we had a great omelette debate between duck, chicken and quail (unfortunately we found no goose, not this week at least...). Duck was surprisingly rubbery, while chicken was a solid regular. Quail was delicate (and somewhat tasteless) and somewhere between chicken and duck on the texture scale.

After experimenting with pancakes on Shrove Tuesday and getting nice flippers albeit with a rubbery finish, we decided to go a little nuts this morning, dividing the batter into three and using orange juice, water and oat milk as the liquid. Orange juice, while covering the pan well, proved ridiculous to flip, providing us with pancake mounds that had a lovely tart taste and a nice spongy but not rubbery texture. Water yielded a crepe-like pancake, easily flipped, decent but generally unexciting. Oat milk won by a long shot in terms of taste and texture: delicate, rubber-less, airy. The batter, in the pan, was entirely too viscous to spread but created a good little pan-cake.

The adventures in gastronomic experimentation continue...

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Don't Sweat Anything

Richard Carlson wrote a book called Don't Sweat the Small Stuff and more and more lately, I've realized that this is the right way to live. But I really think that you shouldn't really sweat anything. Sure, you should take control of your life to the best of your ability, your life won't steer itself. But as the Serenity Prayer articulates rather well, calling up to a Higher Power: "Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference."

I've come to realize that it's great to be aware of the shortcomings of current situations and your future goals. But dragging your feet about it or sending out emotions of need and desperation won't really help in the end. Karmically, it just isn't positive.

Every time I am about to leave a place, the last days of study abroad or a trip or the end of an educational degree, great things tend to happen. Love springs up, positive emotions bloom, things just seem to be dandy. There is something in the momentum of the end and the promise of a beginning that makes life a bit more true.

I've been trying to lead my daily life in this way since realizing it. Sure there are financial worries to be considered and the future to look after, but it doesn't need to become a weight or a preoccupation. Acknowledge, accept and move on. I aim to give my life it's momentum, a constant evolution, a changeability, a joie de vivre.

So here's to flux, here's to faith, here's to diving in...

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland

I've just returned back from the concluding performance of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, a ballet in two acts. Choreographed by Christopher Wheeldon and composed by Joby Talbot, the production is actually a co-production between The Royal Ballet and The National Ballet of Canada. Fancy that.

It is the story we all know well and I'm sure it was daunting to bring Lewis Carroll's story to dance. Most of the first half was a bit clunky, wading through the real world and gearing up to really set down roots in Wonderland. The first moments in wonderland are a bit mired in special effects, a little more tweaking and I think the entire production could be brilliant. There are glimpses of full-fledged wonderland in the beginning moments which are enchanting and thrilling.

Some of the projection work was quite excellently done (shrinking and expanding Alice) while other bits (the aquatic segment) were not as well executed.

The production really starts to hit its stride with the caterpillar (Eric Underwood) onwards; Wheeldon harnesses the power and the beauty of a fuller cast of dancers in ingenious and playful ways.

The entire narrative builds up to the sensational, whimsical second half - lush with excellent visuals and seamless in its transitions. The Queen of Hearts (Zenaida Yanowsky) radiates with her supreme acting and dancing. Every bit of the second half is enchanting. Alice (Marianela Nunez) has incredible stamina, present and dancing for most of the show's almost two hours. The Mad Hatter (Steven McRae) introduces excellent tap to the ballet scene. Ensemble pieces are excellently choreographed and costumes brilliantly conceived.

A little cleanup of the first half and Alice's Adventures in Wonderland should be set to shine once it makes its North American premiere with The National Ballet of Canada in June in Toronto as part of the Luminato Festival.

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

you asked me what it felt like to fall in love

You asked me what it felt like to fall in love, and, once again,
I melted. Just like the time (or two) that I did succumb
to that feeling, that love, that emotion that erases
all words, that removes the fences between
emotions and drops me in the middle of the breathing
ocean, rise and fall, all together, an expanse,
an expansive, fluid, heaving and sighing...

Jolted awake from a dream, I forget
the real from the imagined, the fiction
from the non-- Like that shudder
when I glimpse my soul, inhaling
its idiosyncratic breath, but only
for an instant. The fragile, the minute,
the crystalline space where I fall, and
a new world opens up.

Sunday, March 06, 2011

On Endings: Cavafy's The God Forsakes Antony

On the eve of my final exam, the end of the taught portion of my MA at The Courtauld, a poem.

The god forsakes Antony

When suddenly, at midnight, you hear
an invisible procession going by
with exquisite music, voices,
don’t mourn your luck that’s failing now,
work gone wrong, your plans
all proving deceptive—don’t mourn them uselessly.
As one long prepared, and graced with courage,
say goodbye to her, the Alexandria that is leaving.
Above all, don’t fool yourself, don’t say
it was a dream, your ears deceived you:
don’t degrade yourself with empty hopes like these.
As one long prepared, and graced with courage,
as is right for you who were given this kind of city,
go firmly to the window
and listen with deep emotion, but not
with the whining, the pleas of a coward;
listen—your final delectation—to the voices,
to the exquisite music of that strange procession,
and say goodbye to her, to the Alexandria you are losing.

- Constantine P. Cavafy (1911)

Translated by Edmund Keeley and Philip Sherrard