Thursday, December 31, 2009

Santa Swiss Style

Santa Claus is a relatively new import into Switzerland, and like all things that are the result of culture creep, sometimes the final product goes a bit awry. For centuries, the Swiss version of the Christmas saint was, of course, St. Nicholas, and he looked something like this:


 A kindly looking gentleman in the tradition of Father Christmas, yes?

But then along came 'Santa', and I'm not sure if the steeply sloped roofs of the Vaudois houses prevents the reindeer from landing atop the tiles, or if the chimneys are too crooked, but Santa has a whole different modus operandi in modern Switzerland. I present to you, B & E Santa!



As you can see, Santa has no reindeer, no sleigh, but has developed a system of ropes, pulleys and ladders that are somehow in tune with the Alpinist dear to the Swiss' heart. Although there are no reindeer or elves, Santa mysteriously has cloned himself for the Swiss portion of his global gift giving journey and has been seen working in teams.



 Swiss Santa is so brazen that even shops open for business are no deterrent to his B&E antics:

                                                


Most troubling of all is Swiss Santa's seeming propensity for taking advantage of his new method of entry...the Peeping Santa:

Puts a whole new twist on 'He sees you when you're sleeping' doesn't it?

But all occupations have hazards and unfortunately, even Santa is not immune to the known dangers Alpine climbing:
 

When the snows have melted, and spring is blooming in the alps (meadows) the Swiss will rescue the corpses of last Christmas Eve and pray that Santa will be more careful next year.

Happy New Year's Eve everyone....I'll try and post tomorrow with some hangover cures and perhaps a resolution or two.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Track Back

Well this seems appropriate...and when you don't know what to listen to, there's always Steely Dan.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

HOME AT LAST!











I made it everyone! Merry Christmas and may your Christmas be as happy and as filled with joy as my heart is right now! Later  taters!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

When you wish upon a star...
(or the very BEST Christmas present ever!)

Way back in September, when I first encountered the Schengen troll and realized I would have to spend some time here in the UK, I thought I'd be home for Christmas, no problem. As the weeks dragged into months, I'd given up even wishing for such a thing, thinking it would only make me miserable to dwell on something that just wasn't going to happen.So I made plans to have Christmas vicariously with the Big G, the Max, Matthew, Adam and the kittehs with the help of a webcam and video stuff and was pretty pleased with my state of mind. I wasn't coming apart at the seams, I didn't snivel everytime I heard a sappy Christmas carol or looked at all the Christmas decorations around Blackheath.

Last Friday, the Big G flew over for the weekend (as he has diligently been doing every single weekend since I got here) and we had our usual lovely, perfect time together. As he was leaving Sunday night, I was a little more anxious than usual, because it would be 10 whole days until I saw him next, so he could spend Christmas at home.But there was something in the air...and on the ground and the runways,a snowstorm had closed the Geneva airport! I was thrilled, it meant a couple more days with my man and a few less days of being without him.On Monday, we strolled around Mayfair in London, window shopping all the posh jewelry shops, high end galleries and tippling a few pints in a cozy pub watching the weather alternate from snow to sleet to rain.It was romantic and magical and I was so damned happy just have him for an extra day or two.

When he left the flat this morning, I vowed to suck it up and not be sad or whinge about anything, because I'd had those couple of extra days and I wasn't going to get all ungrateful on my own ass.I settled into some serious (or frivolous) web surfing and when the phone rang a few hours later I knew it was the Big G letting me know he got home okay.But...(it gets better...sooooooooo much better) what he really had to tell me was a letter had arrived from the canton ( the local authority in Switzerland) stating that since we are going to be married in January, I can go stay with him (er...go home, but shhhhh) while awaiting my visa application to be processed.What does this all mean? It means I'm getting on a plane on Christmas Eve and going home! It is possible that the Schengen troll may have some issue with this, but as I now have a piece of paper from the government saying I can go to Switzerland, I think I can whack him over the head with it until he crawls back under his bridge. And what kind of heartless meanie would turn me back at the Geneva airport on Christmas Eve, with my fiance waiting in arrivals for me? Hopefully no kind at all. Somehow, someway, back in the early crisp autumn nights walking down Lee Park Road, I wished on the right star...I guess miracles need some time to be created.




.... I'll be posting from Switzerland next time!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Obligatory Seasonal Post

To make up for yesterday's heartwrenching, tear inducing post, I give you this and it will make you smile, I promise!
Beautiful, eh? 

 

Friday, December 18, 2009

Last Minutes with ODEN
There was a guy I used to work with who had the most amazing dog, Buddy, and it wasn't just that he only had three legs, it was Buddy's insatiable zest for life and laughter that always pierced through whatever cloud of ennui that I was surrounded by. When Buddy finally had to go, I know it broke Cory's heart and it was a few months before we were in touch and he told me. I hope this video doesn't make you unbearably sad, but I hope it makes you cry, because then you'll know you're human. For Cory and Buddy.
Last Minutes with ODEN from phos pictures on Vimeo.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

  Blue Monster
So I've been in a bit of blue funk of late. It might have something to do with the fact that it's pitch dark by 4 pm here in London (I'm beginning to think that London is actually further north than Edmonton latitudinally), that is, if the sun even makes an appearance from behind the clouds. Or it might be the impending season of jollity, joy, shopping and Santa that has me feeling like I should just stay in bed with the covers over my head. Not that I've been doing that. *ahem* The Cannonball Read II ? Oh, I've been reading up a storm, but since I don't have the gumption to fill out even a passport application these days, a review is, quite simply, beyond me.


In fact, I've been into 'that London' a few times in the last week or so.A friend of a friend came over for a week long visit and we met up, trudged around in the rain, went out to eat at the fabulously strange Hungarian restaurant in Soho and....went to see Cat Stevens/Yusuf Islam!! It was sublime, he played so many of his old tunes (and some new ones, of course) and the Royal Albert Hall is most likely the most perfect concert venue in the world.


I'm getting some of my Xmas shopping done, little by little, although I will have to start sending it back with the Big G on Sunday nights now so that the presents will be under the tree in Switzerland.Last weekend I finally got CS4 and now I can start rebranding the Big G (minds out of the gutter y'all), although it's been a couple of years since I've done any serious graphic/design work and I'm predictably rusty. So what with that and the ongoing effort to improve my French I should be able to hand that blue monster a can of whuppass and cheer the fuck up.


Or I could just go back to bed....





He didn't play this last night, so I thought I'd track it down.

























That is all.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Assfuckery & an Apology

Just a quick heads up to most of the blogs and the wonderful bloggers I follow, some of you use Blogger style sheets..er..templates that have the comments embedded instead of a pop-up window. This is not a bad thing, your pages look nice and read smooth. But the assfuckery that is html and browser compliance and all kinds of geek talk you don't want me to ramble on about has me losing my mind some days.There is never a day when I can post a comment using Firefox (my favorite browser ever), some days (but not today) I can post comments using Safari and some days (like today) I can't post any comments on all your wonderfulness at all. Which makes me frustrated and angry and growly...grrrrrrrrrrr.
So, just so you know I'm reading you and thinking about you and  desperately want to comment, you'll have to make do with these:

The Lunch Hour: Happy Anniversary you two! And you know, it's the little shit that counts. I love that he washed the sheets...there's so much lovin', lustin' and all round sweetness in that one act of goodness.

Xtremely Ragey: Tall you say? Like how tall? I'm the shortest one in my family at 5'10".You don't scare me ya ole busted up, cement head nerd. I know you're a teddy bear and do all kinds of sweet things for your loved ones. 

Everyone is Entitled to my Opinion: Me and Deist had a pity party and you weren't invited! So there! Seriously, you are awesome and your awardees are equally full of awesome bloggy goodness!


Now so long as GP and Spender don't post some do-not-miss-blog-must-read today, perhaps the wicked goblins that reside in my browsers will go back to sleep so I can comment again tomorrow.


Wednesday, November 25, 2009


A Fairy Tale
I don't usually post things that are personal in nature, you know, the stuff about my relationships, or my family. But now that there are a few people who might occasionally read this crap, I wonder if they are confused at some of my posts that refer to my exile, etc. So I thought I it might be time to tell you a little about my situation, as it were. And it's a pretty good story, romance,star crossed lovers, mean, faceless government officials, rude, over officious Germanic (was that redundant?) immigration employees, a little house built of sweetness and bread and history and full of kittehs...yep this a grand story. So here we go, snuggle down in your bedding and lays your little heads on the pillows...

Once upon a time, in the middle of the cold, snow blown Canadian Prairies, there lived a girl (Brite) who had a couple of brothers (their names don't matter, they are totally superfluous to this story...and they don't read this blog).One of Brite's brothers had the most fabulous friend; a tall, skinny and brilliant boy who also happened to secretly be a prince of purest heart (in fact it was so secret, I'm not sure he knows his true self even now).The heretofore unnamed brother (ok..his name is Jamie) and his prince of a friend, the future Big G, let Brite hang around and occasionally drove her to the Big City (Winnipeg) to watch Monty Python on Friday nights, where much laughter ensued.But lo...it was the 70's my children...the decade of me, me, ME and Brite was far too busy indulging in all that 'me-ness' to realize that the love of her life was right there.

And so, the 70's turned to the 80's; Big G moved far away and Brite languished in the deep, wet forests on the Wet Coast.And the 80's dwindled into the 90's and a whole new millenium began. Brite had wearied of the endless drip drip drip on the mosses of the forest floor and moved herself and her young cub (the Max) back to the tundra.One sunny day, less than a decade into this new era (you know, a couple of years ago) the Big G sent an email (because the interwebs had finally been invented) and showed up on Brite's doorstep forthwith.But the Big G lived in far off Switzerland, land of chocolate, mountains, cows and cheese and had to return to his kingdom.The interwebs (bless its little soul) allowed the geographically challenged lovers to pledge their troths (er...you know...send sappy love letters back and forth and chat aimlessly while supposedly at work) until Brite could stand it no more and packed up the Max, the kittehs and all her worldy belongings and moved to the Big G's domain, Switzerland, albeit not entirely with a visa or permission or all that bureaucratic crap.And it shouldn't have been a problem...but there was this witch...a fairy tale always has to have a witch.I will not dwell on this witch and all her evil ways, except to say that her prevaricating, procrastinating ways prevented (oooooh alliteration) Big G from being free to marry the fair (albeit middle aged at this point) Brite.And as long as they remained in the wonderful land of chocolate and cows this posed no problems.

So the Big G and Brite bought a little house, a former bakery with its very own grange in the backyard, roses, a cave (wine cellar) to stock and roaming room for the kittehs.It was such a perfect home that one day, a beautiful and most forward kitteh decided she would live there.The Max attended school and Big G and Brite were ever so happy.But it was the summer of 2009 and the call of their homeland could not be ignored.There were festivals to attend, people to see and lakes to be dunked in.But returning to Canada was perilous, not only because we were flying in an Airbus, but most importantly because the Swiss had changed the rules in the past year.Suddenly Brite was no longer allowed to return to her happy home( a little more alliteration), because of an evil troll called Schengen .Schengen said that Brite was persona non grata, not welcome, fuck off and cancelled her visa application that had been grinding its way through the Swiss bureaucracy for 2 !!! freakin years (oh I'm sorry...shouldn't swear around the kiddies).Luckily, the troll Schengen did not notice the Max and he returned to the land of cows and cheese and continued his education.

Brite stood on the Dover shore, watching the ferry sail off to schengenland, bitter tears coursing down her progressively wrinkling face. Exiled,with nowhere else to go, she turned north and found a flat in twee ole Blackheath. The Big G makes the journey every weekend to soothe and reassure Brite of his love and faithfulness and over tasty meals in fashionable eateries they have 'the visa discussion' until they are weary.But there are good things to come...a wedding (at last) in January and perhaps the troll schengen will be appeased with a document that says Brite and Big G are legally bound to one another.I am convinced there will be a happy ending to this tale...but it may take some time yet. G'night chilluns...sleep tight.




Monday, November 23, 2009

Track Back

So the Big G has gone home to Switz...and I'm here, looking out from my lonely room.(until he's back again on Friday ...yaaay!)

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Look what they've done to my art, Ma...












The horror...the HORROR! The National Gallery in London has ripped out my heart, macerated it ruthlessly and spit the shreds out onto the wet pavement of Trafalgar Square. But worse than that, they have destroyed, utterly, irreparably destroyed countless works of art.Why, why would the national conservators of such treasures perpetrate these heinous crimes on the beautiful Botticelli's, Raphael's and countless other masterpieces? All in the name of 'restoration'. But these paintings have not been restored, they have been bleached, blanched and cleansed of countless, painstakingly applied( by the original artists), layers of varnish that just so happened to have collected a lot of dirt of the years. So let's just throw out the baby with the freakin' bath water in the name of cleanliness and a 'modern day asthetic'.These 'restored' paintings are but a white shade of the glory of the originals acheived by the great masters of art.

Oh, oh! I am so aggrieved! As a teen, I spent weeks roaming these galleries,studying, absorbing and imprinting these images on the core of my visual memory. I loved,with all my soul, some of these masterworks of the Early and mid Renaissance.Today,as I started to stroll through the galleries, my initial shock and disbelief soon turned to nausea.After merely an hour (when once I spent entire days at the NG) I fled to stand in Trafalgar Square, smoking a cigarette and choking back tears of anger and despair.

Restoration/conservation has always been a controversial topic in the art world; for the National Gallery, the debate goes back to the 1840's when it's most virulent critic J. Morris Moore wrote scathing letters to The Times under the pseudonym, Verax.More recently Harper magazine published a withering review of modern restorations in the August 2005 issue entitled 'Inglorious Restorations'.

(photo from Harpers August 2005) 
I have also had mixed feelings about restoration in principal and in experience. I followed the 10 year (1984-1994) saga of the restoration of the Sistine Chapel closely, and although I reserve judgment until I see the final product with my own eyes and compare it to my earlier viewing in the late 1970's, overall I feel the team managed to 'clean' the frescoes and yet still retain some of the original varnishes.As I wandered through the Louvre in Paris last spring, I had the same feeling of disquiet as I did today in London; paintings I had studied all my life and had nearly prostrated myself in front of in the 1980's, were now eerily bright, white and almost cartoon like in their lack of depth and shadow.But the French restorers were more subtle and light handed than their English counterparts, preferring to peer through countless layers of dirt to capture a master's brushstroke.The Italians fall somewhere between the two, depending on the restorer and conservator in chief.But the Brits have done something vile...in fact it is criminal.In fifty years art historians (backed by the anguished cries of today's critics) will posthumously call for the evisceration and flaying of the fools responsible for the destruction of the finest paintings ever produced by the human species.

And it cannot be undone.We no longer know how to create those delicately flavoured lacquers (ask any luthier or violin expert about this), much less how to apply them as Raphael and Michelangelo did. In the pursuit of 'the original masterpiece', struggling with the knowledge that much of the wonderous detail of the works was obscured by centuries of dirt, the conservators of the National Gallery collection had the temerity and the misplaced confidence in 'science' to CLEAN masterpieces, remove the dirt even if it meant removing the artists' original brushstrokes.

I am sick at heart over this, I cannot return the those galleries I loved and knew so well.I will spend my time at the NG in the Impressionist galleries...for the conservators haven't fucked with them....yet.






Thursday, November 05, 2009

Track Back
Yesterday over at Pajiba, they had a comment diversion that revolved around what movies took you back to your childhood.So I got to thinking about what songs take me back to that place of small chairs, big people and not being able to see what was on the back of the counter. I'm talking early childhood here, like before you were 8.  
When I was but a slip of a girl, I absolutely adored this song. I swear I had visions of being freed of family trappings, happily living in some 8x12 four bit room (although I probably didn't know what 4 bit meant) and thought that 2 hours of 'pushin' broom' didn't seem like such a bad deal if that meant you were King of the Road. I swear, all my wandering ways are the fault of Roger Miller.

So fess up...what song takes you waaaaaaaaaay back?
Knobbly Bits
The Big G lived in the UK for some years before moving to Switzerland and he has said, with some affection,"The Brits are a nation of eccentrics." I prefer to think of all those little quirks and tics as 'knobbly bits', much like the tactile paving that is used to facilitate the blind on almost every street corner (I might add that they make navigating in heels a challenge).
So during my exile sojourn here,whenever I run across something that is British in that peculiar way, I say 'knobbly bits' to myself (and invariably giggle out loud).The London Review of Books is a bimonthly publication with well written reviews, interesting editorials and completely 'knobbly' classified personal ads.For your consideration:


 
Okay. I can actually see some logic in this. But then there's this:

  
A bit knobbly, I'd say. But the KBOTD (knobbly bit of the day)Award goes to this submitter:

  

Very knobbly indeed.



Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Track Back


Cuz, it's ya know...Tuesday.
(and I haven't posted a track back in ages)
CBRII: Farewell to the East End by Jennifer Worth

As I am currently staying close to the East End of London and spending some time wandering around this area, the title of this book on display grabbed my eye. It is a wonderful memoir of a nurse/midwife who took her early training at a religious house of nursing nuns, in Poplar, East London in the early 1950's.The book is formatted into short stories of life in the Docklands of that time (and some that go back to the early 30's as well) and are a rich eyewitness account of what was a rather grim life in that impoverished and bombed out district of London.The author switches from true memoir to narrative story, weaving characters and plot with historical background and midwifery technique.Be warned, midwives like to talk about vaginas, placentas,umbilical cords and other womanly bits in a frank and open manner.A glossary is provided for medical terms at the back.
The first few stories of the book introduce the author and her fellow midwives,the nuns of the order and the women of the district, many of whom had too many children and never enough money. Tales of the harrowing birth of triplets in a dark,cold shell of a building; the death of a newborn; the sad reality of infanticide,backstreet abortions and illegitimate birth (during a time when this was a fate worse than death itself), told through the eyes of the midwives.As the book progresses, the personalities of the midwives and nuns fill out, the world of Cockney culture and the grey, run down streets and tenements of East London and the colorful characters that lived there come to life.And oh! what characters, I was particularly fond of the elderly Sister Monica Joan, a refined but rebellious, recalcitrant nun that behaved in ways most un-nun like.The sisters MegandMave, the desperate Hilda and Bill Harding and the intriguing Captain's Daughter are not fictional and the author lets us into their lives with humour and without judgement.
The life of a nurse/midwife was not all babies and births.Before the days of the NHS, a nurse/midwife was the first, and often only, stop on the road to medical care.Nursing also included looking after long term patients, doing daily injections of the 'new' drug insulin for diabetics and occasionally mending injuries for those that refused to go to hospital.Despite the bleakness of the area, a crumbling shell of a once vibrant, albeit historically impoverished, community, these memoirs reveal the resilience and humour of the people who lived there.
I found this book to be a good, light read and may be inclined to venture back into the long gone world of London's East End in her other book Call the Midwife.

Monday, November 02, 2009

Cannonball Read II Preempted

So I know you're all waiting with bated breath for my first review, a curious little book called 'Farewell East End' by Jennifer Worth, but I got sidetracked this weekend into re- reading 'Measure For Measure' (which doesn't qualify as a novel) so that I can help out the Max with his IB English program.I haven't read this play since a very intensive English Lit course in university, and as always with the Bard, I'm struck by how the themes of his plays (and poetry) ring as true today as they did 400 years ago.
'Measure For Measure' is ostensibly a comedy, but there is little in the meat of the play itself that is amusing.Power, corruption, law vs. morality, cultural mores vs. individual circumstance...you could pluck out the names of Antonio, Isabel, The Duke and supplant them with any number of people who make headlines today.
At any rate, I promise to return tomorrow with my first CBII review.
"Yet (by your gracious patience)
I will a round unvarnish'd tale deliver" 



Saturday, October 31, 2009

LCOTM






















Happy Halloween!

Friday, October 30, 2009

Enjoying 50 or how I learned to stop moping and love being in exile

So last Monday, in my halfhearted quest to find a gym to workout at, I stopped into a local for a pint and got into a conversation with a gentleman around my age. We chatted about this and that,what brings me to this bit of southeast London, all very pleasant. But when we said goodbye he told me, "Enjoy your 50th year!"

And it got me to thinking...I haven't been enjoying it very much. I haven't been enjoying this exile, even though I know that there are people who would give their eye teeth (and more) to be 'stranded' in London with nothing but time on their hands.My mother is probably spinning in her grave as I write this, for she would have been in her glory here, a museum or gallery each day, enjoying every pint, the greasy fish & chips, the way the air tastes and smells, walks through all the lovely parks and commons with the conkers and leaves falling,not to mention the spectacular weather. She would most likely berate me for my lack of enthusiasm for all these things.And she would be correct in doing so.

When I turned 50 around a month ago, it was not a good day.I'd only been here a few weeks and was still hoping that this stay would be only a couple of months, but even that seemed awful and egregious.I felt old, and uninspired.My body doesn't appear in the mirror as I imagine it should, my roots are greyer than ever before and the wrinkles and lines and middle age spread leave me feeling as if this bag of bones and skin has betrayed me.My darling Big G assures me that I am as lovely to him as ever, which is, of course, the most important thing really, but I'm tired of this constant feeling of dissatisfaction.So, am I dissatisfied because I'm middle aged, or because I can't be where I want to be RIGHT NOW? Or both? Either way I have to make an effort to stop this destructive, whingy, state of mind and take the gentleman's advice.

I will put my frustration with the Swiss bureaucracy aside.I will accept the fact that I will not be with Big G, Max and the kittehs for Xmas and not snivel about it.I will accept that aging is the alternative to being dead. I will banish my anger at the unfairness of it all.And I will start being truly thankful, not just begrudgingly grateful.For this year, my 50th year on this little blue planet, I will finally marry the man I love, I will get to go home,I will get to work in my garden and cuddle with my kittehs.And maybe with this change of heart I will enjoy being in exile.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

The Limits Of Control
"Reality is arbitrary"
I have never seen a Jim Jarmusch movie before, although apparently he is known to "create difficult and beard-scratching movies".But this movie was just so freaking beautiful it somehow doesn't matter that it has little or no dialogue, a very sketchy plot and an ending that is akin to waking up from a dream after a night of too much curry and beer. Most people will express boredom at the very least and more often, extreme annoyance when subjected to the retelling of 'that wild dream I had last night', but for myself, I found Jarmusch's reverie compelling and fascinating.
The opening scene, shot from above, is of a man doing minimalist tai chi in a bathroom stall at an airport.This man (Lone Man played seamlessly by Isaach De BankolĂ©) meets with two men in a waiting lounge where he is given a number of instructions, one of which is to use his imagination.I suspect this is Jarmusch's gentle suggestion to the audience, you need to let your imagination run during this movie, the hints are subtle and delicate.It's important to listen to the dialogue, there is no excess or repetition and if you miss something you may find yourself quite lost. 
The Lone Man travels to Madrid, Seville and Almeria, sitting in cafes where he drinks two espressos in two cups and meets his 'contacts'; Violin, Blonde, Molecules, Guitar, all the while dressed in immaculate silk suits and an aura of calm expectation.He lays on beds in apartments and watches the sun rise, listens to the street sounds and refuses sex with the luscious Nude.He hates guns and mobile phones, and spends time not just looking, but somehow absorbing certain paintings. The contacts (a stellar cast that includes TIlda Swinton, John Hurt and Gael Garcia Bernal) trade red or blue colored matchboxes with him, and casually offer up bits of philosophy or personal observations about movies,molecules, and the origin and nature of la boheme.
Visually this movie is lush.Each new location is rich and slightly grainy in texture, the Lone Man's suits iridescent in the Spanish sun, the oblique and changing angles of the tai chi routine all kept me entranced when so little seemed to be happening to further the plot. The gritty and sometimes discordant soundtrack (by Boris) reinforced the chimera-like quality of the whole experience, although Jarmusch is much more linear than, let's say, David Lynch.
I walked out of the theater into a dull, grey afternoon in Leicester Square, bustling with tourists and the babble of at least ten different foreign tongues, feeling as if I had been rudely awakened from one of those deeply mysterious and potent dreams you have during a midday nap.And perhaps that was the case. 



Thursday, October 15, 2009


Exile In The UK
53rd Annual
BFI Film Festival



So, yeah I said I wasn't going to post any reviews...well I'm a bit of liar, so fuck you. First film that I got to see at this festival: From Time To Time. And I only have three words: Dame Maggie Smith.
I have always had a sweet affection for those plots that revolve around the  the mutability of time. You know, the  movies (and novels) where the young protagonist is drawn into the past by ghosts that he/she can see and subsequently discover the plot devices that solve whatever dilemma is currently inflicted on said protagonist. This movie is no different from the many, many like it that came before. Predictable plot arc, sweet and on the brink of adulthood adolescent, curmudgeonly but wise household retainers, cheap but not entirely ineffective flashbacks to past events, and a sour/sweet beset upon relative that requires age old mysteries to be solved.Nothing new here kids, but it wasn't an entire waste of time and money, simply because Dame Maggie Smith is the shizz!This Grande Dame  of the stage and screen has somehow avoided becoming a caricature of herself, despite the numerous roles where she trots out the wise, mildly embittered but clear headed spinster persona and takes what is a pedestrian movie,plot and all, and runs away with it.She is helped by the understated performances of Timothy Spall and Pauline Collins (Gawd I love her!) to make a film, that although being somewhat mawkish, is sweet and worth and hour or so of your day.
So out of the paddock.. From Time to Time rates a 3 outta 5.

PS. When I left the theater in Leicester Square wandering around looking for a place to have a bite, I got caught up in a LOT of hoopla as the class act George Clooney worked his way around the crowd signing autographs.So I've been 2 feet from celebristardom and all I can say is it looks like ole George has had a bit of 'work' done.Still, he was very cool and if all celebs took the time to do the 'routine' with as much aplomb as he does, maybe some of the hoopla would be well deserved.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Exile In the UK
It's on now! I procrastinated buying tickets and so won't get to see the films  I really wanted to, but the glory of film festivals is that you usually end up seeing great films that weren't your first picks.
Starting tomorrow:
From Time to Time
Cold Souls
The Limits of Control
The Last Days of Emma Blank 
Metropia
There are soooooo many films that I was too late (or slow) to buy tickets for, like The Road, A Serious Man or Up In The Air,but these big movies will make it to local theaters and eventually onto dvd.I may have to stand in a queue to catch the short and animated short compiliations (which were sold out in a blink) because to me the short films are often the most compelling and rarely seen.
Just in case you're expecting reviews or something, unless the wonderlords over at Pajiba express an interest in the droolings and ramblings from this knobbly corner of the interwebs, or a film simply knocks me so far off my block that I have to rant about it, I won't be posting any. As if I don't have enough angst already just thinking about writing reviews for the upcoming Cannonball Read.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Press Leak
I, like so many many other, have nothing but the highest hopes for Barack Obama.There was (and still is) great joy in my heart that this man (and not GWB or any other one of the minions of Cheney & Co.) is currently sitting in the White House.And I'm patient..I am willing to give the man more than 10 months to bring about the phenomenal changes he promised.But...I just scratch my head over this Nobel Peace Prize thing. Now, the Nobel Committee has been known to make some er...unusual choices for this honour in the past, Henry Kissinger certainly LEAPS to mind, but I'm not sure if this is supposed to be a carrot for Obama or some other strange prescient pick on the part of the august members of the Nobel panel.
Christopher Cooper is also struggling with the oddity of this choice.... 

 They Oughta Give Me The Wurlitzer Prize 
by Christopher Cooper
Members of the Committee, Distinguished guests, Fellow honorees, Friends, and Family Members not too embarrassed to attend:
I humbly and gratefully accept the Nobel Prize in Physics, the recognition, the honor, the plaque, the trophy, the discount coupons, the windbreaker, the keychain, the bumper sticker, the Alfred Nobel bobblehead and the generous cash award which, if I may, I would like to receive in twenties and fifties.
I am as surprised at this as many of you must be, not least those who know me and are all too aware of how far short of my grandiose pronouncements my actual accomplishments have fallen. But do any of us today know that I may not yet, someday, wake up, wise up, get up and get going? That I might not, while sleeping some night, grow a great and sturdy backbone that, upon my waking will support my new found commitment to honoring the dreams and hopes and plans and promises of which I have so often and so eloquently spoken? We do not. For all we know I may even pay off my credit card debt and quit the gin bottle. I believe this high honor may be just the lever that will lift me up and set me again upon the course I have so long advocated for myself and for us all.
But I will tell you that I feel today already on the cusp of great accomplishment. While it is true that as long ago as nineteen sixty-seven opinion held that I would not do great work in the field of physics, there is not an inescapable descent from a grade of sixty-five on the New York State Regents Physics Examination to a life devoid of discovery and productivity in that discipline.
Read the rest at Common Dreams.org :
Published on Sunday, October 11, 2009 by CommonDreams.org

Thursday, October 08, 2009


Exile in the UK
(or what to do when you have nothing to do)

So I'm a little bored these days...but this was certainly an hour or so well spent.


It took about an hour to make this over at xtranormal.com ...not too shabby for my first movie.Speaking of movies, I will be getting out of the flat next week to go see some of the offerings at the 53rd BFI London Film Festival.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Catch Up

So I know what you're all thinking (yes, you, the dedicated minions of boring blog readers),the nekkid rugby players were too much for my delicate sensibilities and I spent the summer in therapy.In fact, I spent the summer travelling back to Canada (consequently barring my reentry to schengen, but more on that later) where we stayed in a wonderful hotel in Montreal, the Auberge du Vieux Port then we went west for the Edmonton Folk Festival and enjoyed some magical, musical moments with Boz Scaggs, Chuck Brodsky, Loudon Wainwright and Steve Earle.After 4 days of music, beer tent, heat and people, we headed to Clear Lake for some peace and quiet at the hut.
At the end of August and Max and I flew to London while the Big G headed home to Switzerland and Max was allowed to return a week later in time for school. On the other hand, I am still here in the UK, exiled.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Swiss Bit


Last weekend, the Big G and I went up to Neuchatel for a rugby tournament.I didn't know much about rugby, so he kindly explained the rules, what happens in the scrum, and how this was an abbreviated 7 tournament.He neglected to mention just how abbreviated this particular semi final was.Only in Switzerland...NEKKID RUGBY!




Even the referee was mostly naked....

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Press Leak
Fear Is The Mind Killer

Yes, we are afraid, very afraid, all the time. Here's Chris Cooper with a little levity to relieve us, even if only momentarily, of our constant terror.


First We Got The Bomb And That Was Good

by Christopher Cooper



And here's the Tom Lehrer song he refers to:

Thursday, May 07, 2009

The Cat Came Back



About 2 months ago, right after the snow had melted away out of the yard, we had a visitor.She was a very friendly, freshly spayed female girly cat who immediately made friends with the boys and started to worm her way into my heart.



The nights were still quite cool and after a week of her hanging out, I started to let her in the house.She wore a collar, but no address, and I couldn't help but think that the owner must want her back, after spending money on having her spayed, so the Big G printed off some posters and within 20 minutes of putting them up, the owner arrived at the door to retrieve her.But...
She kept coming back everyday, playing with the boys (or at least attempting to engage them in play), sauntering in to nom at the crunchies and stretch out on the sofa.If she was still hanging out at the door after 11 pm, I'd let her in for the night.She's pretty much a fixture around here now. I wonder what the penalties are for cat stealing in Switzerland?
Here's the Squidge (alias Maddie-Lambbone-Girly-Katzen):




LCOTM



3 Day Shred

Meh...so I haven't blogged for more than a month, I guess once I reached my 100th post it was some kind of pinnacle...NOT. At any rate the last month has been spent discovering what it will feel like when I'm in my 70's and can't climb stairs, crouch or walk properly anymore. What could be the cause of this illuminating glimpse into my future? Jillian Michael's 30 Day Shred.Yah yah, I'd read all about how tough this workout was and how everyone who did it was sore to the point of tears after the first few days, but after stealing level 1 from Youtube, I thought I could handle it...and I was sore the first day.Sore, but in a good way sore. By day 3, my knees ached when I woke up in the mornings, after 7 hours of NO WEIGHT being on them.WTF??? After a modified workout on day 4, it was apparent that I had severely DAMAGED my knees...jumping jacks are NOT good for those of us with older skeletons, despite Ms. Michael's repeated admonitions that she gets 400 lb women to do them, so I can do it too! She promised shredding in 30 days and I have to admit that there is some truth in advertising, because I managed to SHRED MY KNEES in less than 3.
My next post will wax poetic on the wonders of Tiger Balm and Ibuprofen.