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Friday, September 28, 2007

Madrid Day 1

Well it had to happen sometime especially to seasoned travellers like Ms. Foodie and I. Our luggage never made it to Madrid. Actually, we're not sure where it it. After arriving, we waited awhile and when the bags stopped rolling out on the baggage claim belt, we knew we were in trouble.
After filing our lost luggage claim, we decided to embrace the lighter side of things. At least, we wouldn't have to lug the bags through the Metro to our hotel. In addition, this affords us the opportunity for getting an early start on our shopping. With a Zara at every corner and even a Camper store, Madrid should adequate cloth and shoe us.
However, this evening we have decided to obey our other hunger. So it was a late night of Sangria and Seafood Paella in Sol, the heart of Madrid. As we walked back to our hotel at midnight, we were amused by a museum of ham. Cured ham, hooves and all hanging in the windows of a tapas bar.
It will be a day of shopping, going to museums and site-seeing tomorrow as we await the arrival of our luggage.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

That's President Peanuts to you

Well 5 films, 4 hours of sleep, 24 hours later and I'm finally blogging about TIFF this year. What a way to start this year's festival with a mini marathon. The TIFF organizations (or lack there of) is mostly to blame. I doubt they have fully planned for the larger numbers arriving each September. Last year 50 boxes of tickets were processed in advanced sales. This year, nearly 75 boxes were done. All this even before the regular tickets come on sale.

The mini-marathon started with Wayne Wang's double bill of Thousand years of Good Prayers and the Princess of Nebraska. Famous for directing the Joy Luck Club, this director has chosen another film to illustrate the communication (or miscommunication) between the old and new generations. In this story of East meets West, Henry O is particularly well casted in his role as the elderly father coming to America to visit his estranged divorced daughter. The second film was quite forgettable.

The next film was by far the best I have seen this year at TIFF: Vexille. Anime comes to Midnight Madness. High octane chase sequences, sweeping paranoramic scenes of a post apocalyptic Tokyo, and intriguing mysteries in the plot orchestrated to a bone shaking heavy metal soundtrack. The movie audience here was very different from the usual TIFF crowd. Comic book fans and college geeks shrieked with delight at the visual fest before them and long after the closing credits were done.

Then came the most surprising event of TIFF, a conversation with Jimmy Carter and his wife. I came to Canada after his presidency had ended or he likes to say, "his forced retirement". I must confess that I did not know much about his term in office nor his policies. He is often characterized as the gentleman peanut farmer from Plains, Georgia.
However, after seeing Johnathan Demme's documentary, Man from Plains and after listening to the hour long interview at Ryerson's theatre, a new picture has emerged from of this (oldest) ex-president. He and his wife both profess to having lots of unfinished business after the end of his presidency. In the years since, he has worked for Habitat for Humanity, founded the Carter Centre (which serves to address treating neglected diseases, working for peace and building hope) and won the Nobel Prize. His passion for this activism was inspiring.
The documentary was not as thrilling as the interview. Covering the days of his book tour for the controversially named Palestine: Peace not Apartheid, it chronicles his mounting disappointment and bewilderment at being labelled a liar, bigot and an anti-semite. In an age where politicians are all about image and media spin, President Carter's strength has always been that he had no such fascade. And in this film, his decency, courage and honesty all shine through inspite of all the efforts to discredit him. The man from Plains remains one of the true and real people.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Another old school family portrait

So it has been a busy end of the summer weekend. My mother's youngest brother and his wife arrived for a few days after spending a week on a cruise in Alaska. After spending many conversations reminiscing on their family's past, I finally remembered these old family pictures taken during the time of a younger Singapore.

Heroes in Town

Definitely my favourite new TV show of last year was Heroes. So when I heard that part of the crew were coming to TO to promote the launch of the Season one DVD, I thought I would head down with Ms. Darcy to check out the scene. Okay so my favourite characters Hiro, Peter and Mohinder weren't in attendance but that didn't dampen the sunny smiles of Ando, Micah, Maya and Sylar (oooo that villian you so love to hate).

Zachary Quinto, aka Sylar, is to play Mr. Spock in the new series Star Trek movie.
Ms. Darcy and I first dropped off the application forms for our TIFF tickets then check out the scene at Yonge and Dundas square before heading down to Kii to meet her husband for a lovely 2.5 hour Japanese lunch. The highlight of the meal was the maple marinade Albacore Tuna with wasabi creme fraiche followed closely by the Toro tower. Just a simply splendid way to spend an afternoon.