May 13, 2007

Siren Sounds

Last night I was a photographer for the Siren Sounds benefit concert to raise money and awareness for Interval House, a shelter for abused women. The lineup featured Fefe Dobson and Melissa O'Neil along with a few local acts, but my favourite performance of the evening was by Goodbye Glory, who were so energetic and totally rockin' it with their awesome songs (although I don't know what songs they actually sang, boo). Not only was it great to be doing this for a good cause, but It was a pretty cool experience to get to shoot people doing makeup, performing sound checks, doing media interviews, and of course shooting the concert itself. It was a pretty long day for me though as I had biked out to the Beaches earlier in the afternoon, then to the Opera House where I was there from 4:30pm to 1am... my arm was so tired from holding up my camera that whole time! Thanks to Steve for hooking me up, and for making all those super awesome Viet spring rolls :P Here's a pic of Fefe Dobson- more to come!

A few days ago I tried making my first loaf of banana bread. It turned out pretty nice, but not as moist as I would have liked. Maybe it needed a bit more banana? Not too sure. But it was yummy enough that it disappeared in less than 2 days.

Continue reading for the recipe:

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Banana Bread

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 beaten eggs
1 1/2 cups mashed bananas (5 medium)
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup cooking oil or melted butter or margarine
1/4 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

1. Grease bottom and 1/2 inch up the sides of one 9 x 5 x 3-inch or two 7 1/2 x 3 1/2 x 2-inch loaf pans; set aside. Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Make a well in center of flour mixture; set aside.

2. In a medium bowl combine eggs, bananas, sugar, and oil. Add egg mixture all at once to flour mixture. Stir just until moistened (batter should be lumpy). Fold in nuts (if desired). Spoon batter into prepared pan.

3. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 55 to 60 minutes for 9 x 5 x 3-inch pan, or 40 to 45 minutes for 7 1/2 x 3 1/2 x 2-inch pans, or until a wooden toothpick inserted near center comes out clean (if necessary, cover loosely with foil the 15 minutes of baking to prevent overbrowning). Cool in pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Remove from pan. Cool completely on a wire rack. Wrap and store overnight before slicing.

Makes: 1 loaf (16 servings)

Posted by mich at 7:45 PM | dreams [1]

May 8, 2007

Disney in 3D

I just recently went to see Meet the Robinsons in 3D and it was fantastic. I didn't hear much about the movie so I had no idea what to expect, but I was highly entertained. What more could I ask for... I'm a sucker for Disney, 3D gimmicks and time travel stories: the perfect combination :P Even without the whole 3D experience, which was really well-integrated, the story itself was exciting and heartfelt (I almost cried at the end) and all the characters were hilarious with their witty lines that made me laugh out loud. Go out and watch it (especially in 3D) before it's gone from the theatres!

Posted by mich at 10:40 PM | dreams [0]

May 2, 2007

CONTACT 2007

All the preparations for my first CONTACT exhibit is finally done! I'm showing with 3 other photographers at the Eastern Front Gallery, where I'll be exhibiting 8 pieces from my Intersection of Memory series. The show opens tomorrow running until May 27 and the opening reception is happening this Saturday, May 5 from 7-10pm. So come and check it out, pretty please!

Posted by mich at 9:00 AM | dreams [0]

Addiction to Bubbles

Boomshine is a highly addictive game that I encountered. There's a bunch of floating colourful dots and you have to use you mouse to place a giant bubble on the screen to capture the dots. When a dot hits your bubble, it expands and creates a chain reaction with any other dots it hits. The soothing music, pretty colours, and enchanting visual appeal make for a mesmerizing time waster.

Posted by mich at 12:14 AM | dreams [0]

May 1, 2007

Reflections on China

Here are some of my reactions to several things on my travels through the motherland:

Toilets
I was prepared for the squatters, but my first mainland toilet experience was quite traumatizing. I was forced to use the public washrooms on the streets, and boy, were they ever public. Upon entering the facility, I was faced with a whole row of women just squatting there doing their business. No stalls, no doors, just low dividers! I freaked out and rushed back outside. I kept going in and out trying to muster up the courage to use the toilet and when I finally got the guts to go, I hid myself in the very last stall furthest away from the entrance. Yech, I felt so icky afterwards.

Cars
The drivers in China were all crazy. They had no respect for the rules of the road, traffic signs/lights, or other motorists for that matter. If they weren't honking for one reason or another (and they were ALWAYS honking — we didn't need alarm clocks to wake up at 6am every morning), they were charging through crowds of pedestrians or bikes. Even when crossing an intersection on a pedestrian walk signal, you still have to watch out for oncoming cars/bikes/mopeds, otherwise you'll most definitely get run over. The most appalling thing to me was that vehicles don't yield to anyone or anything, not even ambulances in emergency. I couldn't believe my eyes while I was watching an ambulance trying to crawl its way through an intersection for 5 minutes while all the crisscrossing traffic was zooming and weaving around it. I guess the only privilege you get from using sirens is not being honked at for obstructing the vehicles, sheesh.

Language
After the first couple of days in China, I made a vow to learn Mandarin after the trip because I realized that Cantonese does jack all for you in the most part of mainland. In difficult situations when no one understood English, I resorted to Cantonese, hoping that there would be similarities with some key words. It rarely worked, especially in northern China, but sometimes it was still worth a shot. I tried ordering congee in Guilin using the Cantonese word jook, but no one understood me. Apparently over there they referred to it as rice porridge, but in Shanghai they knew it as zhou, which was close enough for them to understand me. Another time, in Yangshuo I wanted to know whether the vendor had a new doll other than the floor model but he didn't understand the word "new" nor the Cantonese word I tried using, sun. Fortunately I remembered how to write out the word for him (I guess those 9 years of Chinese school paid off), and the guy finally understood and exclaimed xin! What a big difference. By the time I got to Shanghai I picked up a tiny bit of basic Mandarin and was able to go into a convenience store and ask what kind of food the old woman was pushing me to buy. She knew I didn't understand much so she started making mooing sounds to explain that it was beef! Completely adorable.

Queues
There's no such thing as lineups in China... just crowding around. It also doesn't matter if you're lining up behind someone for anything, someone will push and bud you. Someone might even go and bud that offender. As annoying and frustrating as it was to me, it's so normal over there and no one really cares or thinks twice about it.

Food
I was a bit disappointed by the food — nothing we ate ever compared to the Chinese cuisine in Toronto. Having to eat Chinese food twice a day of basically the same dishes with slight variations on the tour can get quite sickening and have you craving for McD's. In Beijing we were excited to have amazing Peking duck, but we were presented with a mediocre dish that wasn't even prepared the proper way. In Shanghai, I waited 20 minutes at a stall famous for Shanghai dumplings, xiaolongbao, but those too were nothing remarkable. In Xi'an though we had a great dumpling dinner, during which we sampled 16 different kinds including interesting ones like pumpkin, walnut, curry, and roasted butter, and some that were shaped as pigs and fish!

But aside from all my rants, China was an amazing cultural experience and I only wish I had more time to explore it. Next time I'll probably trek along the Silk Road or venture to Tibet, and hopefully no more hospital visits!

Posted by mich at 2:30 PM | dreams [1]