Archive for the ‘Fantabulous’ Category

k.d. lang at Center in the Square

Thursday, September 27th, 2012

Went to see k.d. at CITS last night, and she was in a jaunty mood. First the voice – crikey. She can go from a soft croon to full power in a note and the effect is quite something. Doesn’t hurt that CITS has some pretty great acoustics.

She was playful and humble and genuinely surprised, I think, at the reception she got (she must have been warned that the folks in Kitchener like to sit in their seats and nod politely to the music). A standing ovation before she said or sang a word, one or two in the middle of the concert, and several at the end. Audience members shouted out random “We love you” ‘s and commented on her status as an Order of Canada recipient.

Highlights? They did a really upbeat arrangement of “Constant Craving” that was pretty awesome, and “Helpless” in the encore was amazing (with audience participation, even). But the highlight of the evening, of course, was “Halleluja” . Just. Goosebumps, really. I know for her it probably feels a bit rote sometimes, but she gives it everything and the audience is sitting there stunned into silence and having a very Canadian moment. It’s my earworm right now, and one of the only times I have no desire to change the channel.

Her opening act was pretty impressive as well. She’s a torchy twang singer originally from Toronto named Lindy Ortega. Huge range. Loves Mr Johnny Cash. Far too clever to be in Nashville.

Fantastic show.

And because I can:

Damned fine production

Wednesday, August 1st, 2012

A friend and I attended Antoni Cimolino‘s production of Cymbeline at Stratford. This is probably the last play that Shakespeare (and possibly someone else) wrote, but it’s not presented often cuz it’s, well, bizarre to modern sensibilities. It could have been really really wrong, but much to my delight, it was totally entertaining.

Its success is with Cimolino’s direction, the actors and the staging all. Cymbeline has a Shakespeare checklist of plot devices: wronged daughter, star-cross lovers, cross-dressing, deceit, battle, gods, evil queen, and the evil fop. I mean, Jupiter shows up on a freaking great bird that breathes fire. That’s a lot of credulity to stretch.

The standouts were not always the big names. Sure, Yanna McIntosh nails the evil queen. In fact, I think she should play every evil queen. Tom McCamus brought the same malevolent charm of his Valmont to Iachimo, with a dash of Iago thrown in. Geraint Wyn Davies as the title character was solid, but I found his huge swings in mood and oratory to be some of the weakest dialogue in the play (author’s fault, that one).

Mike Shara was an absolute delight as Cloten, the vapid, evil step-son of King Cymbeline and the Queen’s natural son. Every time he was on the stage he stole it. Then when he came to his “end”, the audience gasped – always a sign that the room is enthralled with what’s going on. Cara Ricketts also shone as Innogen, playing her not quite so “sweet girl duped” as might happen with a different characterization.

Graham Abbey, as Posthumus, was a bit Shakespearian in some of his delivery, but in his quiet moments, he was superb. I found his later scenes, when he tries to get himself killed as a capture Roman, to be the most affecting.

Overwhelmingly, this play was FUNNY. Aware of the elements that were overwrought. The lady in front of me laughed so hard she hit her head on my feet. Cimolino got it. Lines that might have been overwrought get a deadpan delivery. Asides to the audience pull them in. Really, the best kind of play in a play.

Well done. Have to say I agree with Richard on this one.

Straightup KW: Tequila!

Saturday, July 28th, 2012

It’s been a while since our last Straightup event (and since my last post), so it was great to get back to it last week. David Yoon is one of the Straightup hosts and he was our tasting guide this time around for tequila.

I don’t know much about tequila, except it pays to pay for the good stuff (as many a girls’ weekend has taught me). But this was the really good stuff, some of which you can’t get in Canada.


Our selections for the evening

Our first bottle was Milagro Reposado. This one smelled the most like “tequila” – a bit of oil, with some vanilla and wood, though, so already I was in different territory. It also had the oiliest mouth feel, but an interesting briny/mineral finish.

Next was Tres Generaciones, an old family recipe of the Sauza family, as the name implies. It was a clear tequila compared to some of the others we tasted, and it is not casked in oak barrels. This one was my favourite of the bunch. Nice taste and very smooth.

Partida Anejo was really interesting. I pegged the aroma of this one as a cactus wearing nail polish, which doesn’t sound good, but it was. Taste was definitely of agave and bourbon with a light wheat colouring and long finish. This one is casked in Jack Daniels and that bourban taste came through for sure.

Then came Riazul Anejo, which is hard to find even in the States. The aroma on this one was of candy canes, or cotton candy or something, which was quite strange for a tequila. And it tasted sweet, which was also quite strange but very pleasant. Like a dessert tequila, should you need one.

It was interesting to hear about Lowland and Highland bottlings and the caskings, just like with whisky, and David assured us that tequila drinkers are happy drunks, so there’s that.

The venue this time around was at Center in the Square and it was perfect for the occasion. Every time we do one, I get excited for the next one. Who knows what’s next – sake?

Sometimes, great things happen to awesome people

Sunday, May 13th, 2012

1 BILLION dollars. That’s the box office so far for Avengers. Joss, for his part, says now he can afford the “fancy coffee” but other than that, he’s gonna work on the projects he already has planned.

Can’t really talk about the movie without spoilerage, but let’s just say that the Jossian moments make it. And Hulk steals the movie. Except, Tony Stark and Joss Whedon? Made for each other. The build-up was a bit slow but the action of the last half was blockbuster in the best way. Loved the alien ships and the big booms and the dialogue.

And like a good little browncoat, I had a squee and a clap when I saw “Directed by Joss Whedon” at the end.

Note to parents: please please please, don’t bring kids under 5 to the movies, unless it’s parent day and it’s a kid’s movie or something.

Bring back the funk

Sunday, November 27th, 2011

He’s small, genius, and a lover of spandex and heels. It’s Prince!

We saw the 2nd concert at the ACC last night and it was fabulous. No openers, just Prince, the backup singers, a drummer, a keyboardist and a bassist (who also came out to do some singing), and his guitar (that he insisted on introducing to us when it was brought on the stage).

Prince with sparkles

Stage is former known as, sparkles falling from the rafters

And you know what? At the age of 54, the man still has the pipes, the moves and the musicianship. It was a totally FUN kind of vibe–he seemed really relaxed and he was very engaged with the audience. Came out swinging with “Purple Rain” right off the top, which got notoriously reticent Toronto butts out of the seats and then kept it going from there.

He played a lot of the hits, and in Princely fashion, reminded us several times that he had a lot of them (174 I think he said :)

The backup singers did a stellar gospel version of “Arms of an Angel” by Sara McLachlan while he was offstage, presumably for a costume change, of which he had many. We wondered if they picked this song for the Canadian tour, and maybe did another one in the States.

There were some amazing guitar solos and drum solos in the middle of songs, and he kind of medleyed up some groups of songs in some really cool arrangements. Also, we got the Prince version of  ”Nothing Compares 2 U”–very gospel funk and very good. He was definitely in a funky mood, in fact–his cover of “Play That Funky Music” was an audience favourite, as was the funk beat in “Controversy”.

However, for MY money, the absolute BESTEST part of the show was the second encore: “When Doves Cry” on the piano, basically him playing and the audience singing the whole song, and then “Kiss” which is my favourite of all Prince songs. He teased us with the riff a few times and I was a little worried that we were only going to get that, but nah, he made my dream come true.

Check this one off the bucket list. If you get a chance, go see him. Definitely a great show.



Saturday, July 16th, 2011

Our second Straightup KW event – the Great Canadian Whiskey Tasting was a most excellent night. We had it at the Clay & Glass Gallery this time around and the theme was Canadian Whiskey (duh).

Gord Tanner was our tasting host, and his enthusiasm for the subject matter was evident. He opened with a kind of “shout it out” poll on our favs – quite a few 40 Creek fans, one or two Chivas guys, but no one with the guts to mention CC (though we did refer jauntily to our collective experience with replacing pilfered CC with tea during the teen years). Gord talked about mashes and coopers and oaks and such. He was entertaining and passionate about his subject.

Of the four whiskeys, my favourite was the 40 Creek Confederation Oak (one of a very few whiskeys done with Canadian Oak), but the Alberta Premium 30 year-old was probably the darling of the night — my second choice, but first for many of the people there. The Alberta Premium is a 100% rye mash, which is actually very unusual, for a drink that is regularly called “rye”.

Wiser’s Legacy was the first one we had, and it really set the tone for “old school Canadian whiskey”. Gord says it’s made from an original recipe. It definitely was voted “most likely to go well with mix”, not because it was bad, but because it had that mixy kinda taste.

The last whiskey we tasted was the Crown Royal Cask 16, which is a special release from the new master blender over there. The Cask 16 has a cognac finish on it, and though it was the most expensive one of the bunch, it definitely wasn’t the most popular one. …Until people got hold of the apricot puff pastries with whiskey glaze that Steph from Little Mushroom Catering served as an accompaniment.  Then all of a sudden the world made sense.

In fact, the food was delicious. Splendid cheese selection, cheese-wrapped meatballs in a 40 Creek glaze, really yummy-spicy chicken skewers with avocado puree, this smoked salmon & wasabi cream thing that people attacked AND grilled asparagus with proscuitto & mango. Bonus points awarded for Steph’s inspired choice to put some Hickory Sticks out, cuz, really, could it be more Canadian rec room?

The gallery exhibit was a look at Mother Nature, and her complete disinterest in the arc of human existence. Seems a weighty subject to approach with glass art, but there were some interesting pieces. Several of us got a bit mesmerized by the changing rings of colour and fire in the “round room” (and it wasn’t the drink).

Plans are afoot for another event in the Fall. Bourbon, anyone?

40 Creek Confederation Oak

40 Creek Confederation Oak

This is a picture I did not take…

Sunday, July 10th, 2011

of a grey-haired grandma in her Sunday best, trying to convince her husband to join her in a bit of booty-shaking to Turkish folk music in Uptown Square.

Hope they celebrate

Sunday, June 26th, 2011

and I’d love to be a flower arranger or wedding planner in the empire state in about 30 days. Congratulations, New York!

This is a picture I did not take

Sunday, June 19th, 2011

of an imposing figure of a man, out for a walk, with his pink Barbie tote bag.


Monday, June 13th, 2011

The Ebstorf Map was created at the Ebstorf Abbey in the mid 13th Century, then a convent. It’s not a map as we know them, but rather a representation of the world in Christ’s hands, with Jerusalem at its center, and scary things like manticores and cannibals around the edges of what’s known (and no North America at all).

Adam and Eve on the Ebstorf Map

Adam and Eve on the Ebstorf Map

When asked about this close-up of Adam and Eve, the current Abbess says each has an apple to represent equality. And she loves that the serpent is a man, as evidenced by his beard.