Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Toronto International Film Festival starts this week....

...and I'm getting ready.

After a bit of a bumpy ticket-purchasing ride, with a lot of my top picks off-sale due to my cheapness is buying a discounted Daytime Pack, I still have a pretty awesome schedule over the 10-day Festival. Zouheir is taking a few days off so that he can get to more of the screenings this year.

This Thursday, I'm seeing a live reading of American Beauty, to be directed by Jason Reitman. Actors are being announced by Reitman on Twitter and so far, we have  (as reported by Toronto Life):  

  • Adam Driver (Lena Dunham’s creepy boyfriend from Girls) as the neighbour’s son Ricky Fitts (played by Wes Bentley in the film)
  • Toronto’s Sarah Gadon as Angela, the teenage object of Lester Burnham’s (Kevin Spacey) lust (played by Mena Suvari in the film)
  • Nick Kroll as Buddy (played by Peter Gallagher in the film)

Gadon is probably best known in her role of Emma Jung in A Dangerous Method.

On Friday we'll see a couple of documentaries:

In an unprecedented and candid series of interviews, six former heads of the Shin Bet — Israel's intelligence and security agency — speak about their role in Israel's decades-long counterterrorism campaign, discussing their controversial methods and whether the ends ultimately justify the means.

Apparently, there will be two (former?) generals in attendance.

On Saturday, we're looking forward to screenings of Hotel Transylvania, Inch'Allah, and The Attack. The first is an animated feature with a star-studded cast. The second two examine the Palestinian question in the West Bank. There are quite a few films set in the Middle East at this years festival and we're hoping to see most of them.

More to come.

    Thursday, August 16, 2012

    #photoadayaug - #food - Nachos with spicy beef at my local.


    Taken at Pheasant & Firkin

    #photoadayaug - #food - Nachos with spicy beef at my local.


    Taken at Pheasant & Firkin

    Fanado...what's it all about?

    Probably the best way to understand it is to watch this brief video featuring Margaret Atwood.
    Fanado (pronounced like "fanatic" but ending with "doe") is a way to bring fans and artists together remotely. Some of you may have heard about (or experienced) Atwood's Long Pen technology, a concept she developed to enable her to sign books at a distance. Fanado takes this technology one step further in combining video capability permitting you to chat with the artist and record the interaction including the autograph. Fanado Mobile will make this possible with digital media, anywhere, anytime.
    [youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lyEfvIKetBg]
    Using IndieGoGo, Fanado set out to collect $85,000 via crowd-sourced funding, and I was excited to play a (small) role in this. They collected almost $95,000 with 389 funders by the deadline and so the project is a go!
    My first "perk" is this badge that I display proudly.

    Wednesday, August 15, 2012

    #photoadayaug - #ready - the rice, that is!


    (Mini-)Book Review: Two novellas by Francoise Sagan



    COUVERTURE DU PARIS MATCH N°2889 : FRANCOISE SAGAN UNE VIE (Photo credit: Patrick Peccatte)

    Bonjour TristesseBonjour Tristesse by Françoise Sagan
    My rating: 3 of 5 stars

    After half-watching a documentary about the life of Francoise Sagan (it was in French, so I only caught about half the info), I decided to have a got at some of her work.

    Bonjour Tristesse was her first book, published when she was 19. It was a media sensation for its sexual themes, but it made her name (and a lot of money). A short work, I found it rather juvenile in its language, but a well-crafted story, a novella really. That being said, I was reading it in translation so I leave it to readers of the original French to set me straight.

    I liked it enough to move on to her second (also short) work, A Certain Smile.


    A Certain Smile: A NovelA Certain Smile: A Novel by Françoise Sagan
    My rating: 4 of 5 stars

    I read this immediately after Sagan's first work (Bonjour Tristesse) and much preferred it. The writing seems much more mature, although it was written only two years later.

    Bored with her studies and boyfriend, Dominique sets out on a flirtation-turned-affair with his uncle. Sagan, who was the same age as her protagonist, writes convincingly and with authority, and the emotional tide feels very true-to-life.


    View all my reviews


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    (Mini-)Book Review: Girls in White Dresses by Jennifer Close

    Girls in White DressesGirls in White Dresses by Jennifer Close
    My rating: 3 of 5 stars

    This book didn't really hang together for me. The story of a group of 20-something young women, it felt like a music video, kind of choppy, and brusquely spliced together. That being said, it kept me reading. The individual story arcs were interesting, but there were five of them and none felt really resolved. It's going into the give-away pile.

    View all my reviews

    Monday, August 6, 2012

    Antipasto Pasta Salad - a family fave.


    This is an easy summer side that can be thrown together quickly.

    Cook 8 oz medium shell pasta, and then rinse in cold water.

    In a large bowl, throw together cubed salami and provolone or havarti cheese (1/2 lb each), 1-1/2 cups halved cherry tomatoes, some pitted olives, green pepper strips, sliced pimiento, artichoke hearts, or anything else that you like (banana peppers? yum!). Add pasta and combine with 1 cup of your favorite homemade or store-bought Italian salad dressing (I like Newman's Own Family Italian.) Chill before serving.

    My teen boys eat this as a snack.

    #photoadayaug - #Writing - #Arabic script on tray


    Sunday, July 29, 2012

    Photo A Day August | #photoadayaug | Fat Mum Slim

    I've been doing the #dailybookpic suggested by Cassandra Neace at Book Riot, but the idea originally came from Australian blogger FatMumSlim who posts a challenge list each month using the hashtag #photoaday(month). So I'll be joining them for #photoadayaug and would love to see some friends jump in as well. Here is the list, and there's more info at her blog.


    #dailybookpic - Autographed by @Laurenbdavis at @IFOA


    #dailybookpic - A well-worn book: pub. 1917; belonged to my Grandpa Winer


    Monday, July 23, 2012

    Wonderful afternoon at Westben

    I was thrilled to be invited to share in a bulk purchase of tickets to see Gerald Finley at the Westben Arts Festival yesterday. He's a high school classmate who has gone on to the highest levels in his art, one of the leading bass-baritones in the world.


    At just over two hours from Toronto, we left mid-morning and picnicked in the lovely gardens/meadow. A pre-show chat led by Iain Scott of U of Ts opera school introduced the sold-out house to both Gerry and the repertoire he'd be performing: mainly arias from operas through the ages.
    He was joined on stage by his cousin Brian Finley who is the founder and artistic director at Westben, and a superb pianist.
    I'll attach a copy of the program. A wonderful afternoon, Gerry sang from 2 to 4:45 with an intermission.


    Monday, July 9, 2012

    Catholic Moral Theology

    My brother John Berkman is one of a group of Catholic moral theologians who have a blog. Their mission statement:

    We are a group of North American Catholic moral theologians who come together in friendship to engage each other in theological discussion, to aid one another in our common search for wisdom, and to help one another live lives of discipleship, all in service to the reign of God.  We understand our role as scholars and teachers to be a vocation rooted in the Church and so we seek to place the fruits of our training at the service of the Church, as well as the academy and the world.  We recognize that we as a group will have disagreements, but want to avoid the standard “liberal /conservative” divide that often characterizes contemporary conversation, as well as the bitterly divisive tone of so much ethical discussion (particularly on the internet). We therefore endeavor to converse with each other and others in a spirit of respect, charity, and humility.

    It is a refreshing change from some of the polarized (and polarizing) discussion that is out there in the Catholic blogosphere.

    Check them out at CatholiMoralTheology.com.

    Image courtesy of The Graphics Fairy.

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    #dailybookpic Day 9: Not a book - My ticket stub diary.


    Thursday, July 5, 2012

    A July photo project: #DailyBookPic

    Cassandra Neace who blogs at Indie Reader Houston and is a contributor to BookRiot, has initiated #DailyBookPic, a little book-related photo project that I've been participating in. For full details, you can check out her post here. Essentially, she's come up with a set of book-related topics and asks for a photo a day. You can tweet your pics with the hashtag #DailyBookPic.

    Here are the topics:


    My contributions so far:

    Day 1: Favorite Reading Spot


    Day 2: Current Read


    Day 3: Book Browsing


    Day 4: Book Shelf


    Day 5: Book Mark


    I'll send future pics directly here!