Tuesday, July 24, 2007

West Coast Moment

While I love running around the Serpentine in Hyde Park, running in London is certainly different from running on Vancouver Island. In London I usually find myself dodging grim faced, business-suited folk hurrying to work. This morning on a trail that runs by my parents' house, every single person walking, running, or cycling past me shouted out: "Good Morning!" or "Hey there!" or "Great day!" It was rather glorious...and then I came home to drink my coffee on the deck and watched these guys on the beach below me.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Flying with Harry Potter

Here I am, bleary-eyed after a night of cocktail party hopping, picking up my copy of Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows at 1am this morning. I know that the J.K. Rowling backlash is out there, fuelled by the media hype surrounding book embargoes and price wars and spoiler alerts, but on the most basic level, what a great event this is. People lining up for a work of fiction.

I think it's brilliant, I love the books, and as I looked around me today on the airplane that flew me out to the West Coast and saw so many other people lost in the latest Harry Potter just like me, I couldn't help but smile. I've been near hysterical about other books being released my entire life, and sharing it with other people just feels cool. And as the rain teems down here on Vancouver Island, I am curled up in front of the fireplace, the ocean in front of me, a glass of wine in one hand and Harry in the other: you'll have to excuse me as I go back to reading.

(A small addendum: if you're buying HP, support your local independent bookstore!)

Friday, July 13, 2007

The Pain and The Itch

The Financial Times review of The Pain and The Itch currently playing at the Royal Court begins, "A rule of thumb in drama: the smarter the sitting room, the greater the mess that is likely to be swept under the metaphorical carpet. In Clay and Kelly’s minimalist living room the sofa is streamlined, the lines are sleek – and the mess is big indeed."

So true. Bruce Norris has concocted a brilliant mess in this play, which the audience only fully understands at the very end. Ensemble casts at the Royal Court never disappoint and this one was particularly good - especially the dreamy Matthew Macfayden. He plays a petulant boy stuck in the body of a man who has discovered the status that a BMW can provide - and what else is a yuppie if not this? I especially loved the scene where he tries to explain to a confused, foreign guest that the distressed wood dining table is supposed to look that way. Michael Billington's review is here.

Quite brilliant to have a mysteriously gnawed avocado as both an element of suspense and a crucial metaphor running through the play. And one of the best elements was the manner in which the characters spoke, written directly into the text. God, it was funny. And as I am often teased for speaking in numerals, I felt slightly self-conscious. The whole point?

KELLY: Unless you know some human that bites into an avocado like it was an apple, all right? So, yes, some non-human creature has entered our house and is now feasting on our avocados?

CLAY: And of course the mind devises these scenarios.

KELLY: But the bottom line is: one, what sort of toothed creature are we dealing with; two, what is the point of entry; and three, where exactly is it now?

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Game, Set, Snap

I was originally disappointed because all of this rain meant that my tickets on Centre Court, originally scheduled to be both men's semi-finals, would be featuring other play. It turned out to be a huge treat. Two men's quarters including Nadal vs. Berdych, Federer vs. Ferrero and then the women's semi-final between Venus Williams and Ana Ivanovic. And then, due to a series of long matches on No.1 Court, the officials moved the second semi-final between Bartoli and Henin to Centre Court. Not only did I get a bonus match, but it was the upset match of the tournament.

I really love this photograph I took of Federer in the focus of all the courtside photographers. (Was today's final a crackerjack match or what?) Click the images below for larger versions.

Venus Returning Serve Centre Court
Coin Toss Heading to Centre Court

Thursday, July 05, 2007

RA Summer Exhibition 2007

Remember my fantasy? Well this year's Royal Academy Summer Exhibition made it particularly good - I could have spent a fortune. One thing I particularly love about the exhibition is how there is an explanation in each gallery room as to how the room was hung. An important element due to the eclectic nature of the individual pieces in each gallery, but I wish more exhibitions did this as a matter of course. This kind of interest seems to be the same as the way I can sometimes love the structure of a book just as much as its content.

Speaking of books, Ken Howard's paintings always make me feel like I'm inside of one, reading on a rainy day. He had several paintings displayed in this year's exhibition, which were lovely. I also enjoyed Michael Craig-Martin's Reconstructing Seurat (pictured above). And featured in the show was the controversial Iraq Triptych by Michael Sandle - created in just ten days and despite the brutal nature of its portrayal, was a beautiful, intricate piece. One other painting I would have dropped a bundle on was a watercolour interpretation of the classic Penguin cover by Harland Miller - you can see several of this series here.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Wimbledon Predictions 2007

A little late with my predictions this year, but it doesn't really matter with all of this rain we've been having. So many delays that I don't think even the players know what round they're presently playing. I'm going to cheat with my predictions this year, simply to spice things up a little. I believe that the winners will be Roger Federer and Justine Henin - it's just so boring, but gosh they're playing well on the grass.

My backup prediction is for Centre Court favourite Marcos Baghdatis and Michaella Krajicek on the ladies side. And quietly creeping through the draw at the moment are Tomas Berdych and Andy Roddick. How much would I love Roddick to win it? So much. And how exciting is this new Tamira Paszek?