Friday, April 29, 2005


Ordinarily at this time of year I would be obsessively watching NHL playoff hockey - but living in the UK and there being no hockey this season has cramped my style. But never fear, I have found a new sport and television viewing obsession - the glorious game of Snooker. The World Snooker Championship is currently on in Sheffield and thanks to ridiculous all-day coverage on BBC, I barely leave my flat. My friends think the Ph.D stress has finally taken me over the edge, but snooker proves to actually contain much more than slamming different coloured balls into some pockets.

There is strategy, brutally intense mindgames, and incredible smashing of the rules of physics (or at least the rules I understand). The players themselves are also vastly interesting - they have all the archetypal characters. The kind but perpetually coming-short father figure, the wise man, the rebel, the David, the Goliath. My favourite player, Ronnie O'Sullivan is the tortured genius - which even The Independent picked up on. Now that he has been knocked out of the championship, I am rooting for the young, fearless, Odysseus character - world ranked number 39, Shaun Murphy.

Thursday, April 28, 2005

Sebastiao Salgado

War in Croatia
Originally uploaded by sarah4855.

This evening I watched The Spectre of Hope at the National Film Theatre. It focuses on a conversation between the art critic and writer John Berger and the Brazilian photographer Sebastiao Salgado about the latter's book Migrations.

Migrations is a project that took over six years where Salgado travelled to 43 countries, photographing those who have been pushed out of their homes due to globalization into the margins of the world - people in perpetual migration. There were some startling images - both beautiful and heartbreaking. Berger commented that the children who were photographed seemed to just want to say, "I am here. This is me. I exist." As if the only way they could see something outside of their world was by looking into a camera lens.

You can view a whole series of photographs from Migrations on this website and read an interview with Salgado about the project.

Monday, April 25, 2005

The Life Aquatic

Originally uploaded by sarah4855.

While I have now lived in the UK for a total of almost two years, there is one place I have never been - the London Aquarium. I love fish, I have a fish, but I have never been to visit these fish. (What finally prompted the visit was seeing the film Closer, part of which is filmed in the aquarium.)

It was amazing - I had never been face-to-face with a shark that was mere inches from me. You can watch the sharks on the aquarium's live webcam. There was even an interactive tank where I stroked a stingray. More photos below!



Friday, April 22, 2005

The House of Yes

Originally uploaded by sarah4855.

As shown in the All Consuming sidebar, I watched The House of Yes last night. Or rather, in the early hours of today, as my insomnia raged. A friend gave me the dvd to watch on one of my transatlantic flights, but I never got around to the end, it worked out well, because it was the perfect movie for my insomnia. Not because it put me to sleep, but because it made me happy to be awake in the wee hours of the morning watching it. It was hilarous.

I had read the original stage play by Wendy MacLeod, but the humour wasn't as wry and as sharp on the page as it was on screen. This was due mostly to Parker Posey's brilliant performance (she won at Sundance for this particular one) - while I had never been a big Posey fan, I am now. So thanks D. for the dvd gift. "Now please excuse me, I have to go baste the turkey and hide the kitchen knives."

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Canuck Poets Invade New York!

Originally uploaded by sarah4855.

There is a brand-spanking new book called Open Field: 30 Contemporary Canadian Poets and many of the poets figured in the volume are streaming into New York right now for its launch. This is the first time an anthology of Canadian poetry has been published by an American house, the independent press Persea Books.

The Globe and Mail writes about the invasion. So great to have a Canadian cultural event in New York that doesn't include Celine Dion.

Monday, April 18, 2005

My So-Called Life

Originally uploaded by sarah4855.

This is where I have been sitting for the past seven days and nights. Thank you jetlag, thank you Ph.D chapter deadline.

In my frenzy of notes, drafts, and endless hours of staring at a computer screen waiting for just the right word to come to me, I have discovered that I have become emotionally dependent on a few things. My two nalgene water bottles (one for juice, one for water), my Pilot felt-tip pen in light blue, A4 sized looseleaf writing pads (see photo above), and M&M peanuts. On my short forays into the library or my office, if I do not have these products with me I feel lost, adrift, and quite tearful. And I have another two years of this.

But this Ph.D boardgame is absolutely hilarious. And so, so true.

Friday, April 15, 2005


The documentary Spellbound was on the tube last night and I enjoyed it just as much as when I saw it in the theatre. But I really hope those kids have found more to life than their dog-eared dictionaries.

The Guardian presents this spelling quiz today. I'm embarrassed to say that the only word I got wrong was embarrass. Thank god for spellcheck.

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Lucian Freud's Self-Portrait

Lucian Freud
Originally uploaded by sarah4855.

Lucian Freud's new self-portrait has gone on display at the National Portrait Gallery in London. It portrays the rather surprised artist in his studio with a naked female admirer clutching his leg. I would like to point out that, my adoration of Freud's work aside, it is not me.

The Guardian has assembled some critics to discuss the relationship between the male artist and the female model. I particularly like the comment likening the model to a faithful labrador.

Saturday, April 09, 2005

In God's Country

Cordova Bay Sunset
Originally uploaded by sarah4855.

I just spent a few days visiting home...the paradise of Vancouver Island. Here are a couple of photos - the sun setting over Cordova Bay in Victoria and a frequent visitor to the house.


Sunday, April 03, 2005

John Berger in Conversation

I have been reading a lot of John Berger's theories on visual culture for my current work - particularly his views on photography. I am intrigued by his notion that the true content of a photograph is invisible, because it derives not from play with form but from play with time. Whatever object or event is depicted in the photo carries the same weight as any other, and what actually gives the photo its intensity and meaning is how much we are aware of the poles of absence and presence in the photo. Perhaps this is why photographs are so often mementos of our loved ones who are absent.

Anyway, I was thrilled to discover that there is a celebration of Berger's work about to begin in London. I managed to get one of the last tickets to see John Berger in conversation with two of my favourite Canadian writers, Anne Michaels and Michael Ondaatje - it appears that they will be discussing the nature of writing itself - it should be fantastic!

The Observer also has a new interview with John Berger - I think only he could get away with describing a cigarette as a "proscenium arch for a dialogue".