Sunday, October 24, 2010

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Because she's the cheese and I'm the macaroni!

My friend's older brother used to drive around in the family minivan and would sometimes leave his cassettes in the tape deck. One day the cassette tape was Ill Communication and my mind was blown.

And I know, I know, this story would be cooler if I had discovered the Beastie Boys 8-10 years earlier, but I was four years old when Licenced to Ill came out and I was a nerd. So I didn't discover them until the minivan in '94. I then quickly developed a fleeting interest in Tibetan Buddhism and a mad crush on Adam Horovitz.

I struggled with the fact that he was married to Ione Skye:

mostly because she is so lame in Say Anything:

but I told myself she must have some redeeming qualities in real life. I mean, her father is none other than psychedelic pop superstar, DONOVAN:

who's greatest hits include "Mellow Yellow," "Season of the Witch," and "Jennifer Juniper."

When I finally saw the Beastie Boys live at the Pacific Coliseum in 1997 or 1998, it was probably the best thing that happened to me for a couple of years.

Adam Horovitz is now married to the very awesome Kathleen Hanna:

but maybe we'll be together when we're old, like in a García Márquez novel?

Sunday, October 17, 2010

A Return

I began studying piano at the age of four and fell in love with the expressive musicality of Romantic composers. I listened to recordings voraciously, often "interpreting" them by ear, and Chopin was my favourite, although it took many years before my small hands were able to conquer his vast leaps across the keyboard.

Last year, a decade since my last piano lesson, I decided to resume my study. I quickly experienced the humbling frustration of returning to an instrument after many years. Far from simply picking up where I left off, many things I once did with ease and precision had to be re-learned or remembered. The memories were there, in my fingertips and brain, and I was told that with time they could be recovered, but the learning curve felt dramatic. Over the course of the last twelve months I have slowly begun working my way back into a routine, frequently wanting to give up and dreading the lessons.

When learning a new piece of music, there are logistics involved: notes, rhythm, tempo, key signature, accidentals, and expressive markings must all be achieved with confidence before interpretation can begin. Take Chopin's Nocturne in B flat minor, Opus 9, Number 1 for example, to which I have devoted six months (and counting...) of study:

Many great pianists have performed and recorded Chopin's nocturnes, but Claudio Arrau's interpretation remains my favourite.

Whereas others, like Maurizio Pollini and Angela Hewitt, play with expert precision, there is, in my opinion, a necessary emotional quality to Arrau's version which is lacking in their interpretations. Arrau seems to be reaching out beyond technique to the ears of the listener. It is certainly something to aspire to.

Monday, October 11, 2010

On this, the day of your turkey's consumption

As the leaves on my neighbourhood trees turn from green to vibrant red and warm amber, I begin to get consumed by an almost manic excitement for autumn. My scarves get thicker, my sweaters woolier, and my brain has difficulty focusing on anything beyond searching for recipes that involve pumpkin, turnips, cream, and a casserole dish. I become obsessed with insipid masses that taste like nothing but cinnamon and comfort, and pending deadlines seem unbearable without sickeningly sweet seasonal beverages from coffee places that shall remain unnamed. Autumn is a wonderful time for rain boots and falling in love, and drinking hot toddies and listening to alternative country songs about being crazy about you.

Another season passes, as does another year that I have been in this rainy city. Movements become a bit more ritualistic, and structures continue to collapse and are rebuilt. Every year the city changes, and every fall I forget what it used to look like. Few things remain the same, and, like the buildings in this city, the seasons collapse into the next. But each year I anticipate the moment in which the remnants of summer disappear, and we are left with autumn, rebuilt on a stretch of trees on Ontario and Alberta.

Happy Turkey Day everyone.

Friday, October 8, 2010


Thursday, October 7, 2010

Style Icons: Irène Jacob

Is there anyone more enigmatic than Irène Jacob? In Krzysztof Kieślowski's iconic Trois Couleurs: Rouge (my personal favourite of the three) and La double vie de Véronique her presence is nothing less than mesmerizing. Scarves and melancholy never looked better: