June 13, 2008

Scootering in Spain

I just came back from a 5-day trip to Barcelona, where I met up with Monzi visiting from Toronto. The weather there was actually much cooler than in Sweden, but it was nice and refreshing.

One of my favourite things about Barcelona is the wonderful architecture of Antoni Gaudí dotted throughout the city. Gaudí-designed buildings and public spaces such as the Sagrada Família, Padrera, Casa Batlló, and Parc Güell, and public street furniture like whimsical lamps and benches give the city such a unique and fantastical character.

The highlight of the trip was renting a scooter for a day and riding from Barceloneta beach across the entire city northwards and all the way up to Mount Tibidabo, where we had a breathtaking view of the city. From Tibidabo we scootered over to the western hill, Montjuïc, site of the Olympic stadium and Mies van der Rohe's beautifully simplistic Barcelona Pavilion.

I absolutely loved Barcelona's Gothic Quarter and El Born areas for their labyrinths of narrow alleyways filled with boutiques, cute cafés and restaurants, public squares, medieval architecture and random street performances. Everywhere you walk there's a surprise at each turn, whether it be a beautiful massive cathedral, bullet holes left intact from the Spanish Civil War, a cloister courtyard that was home to 13 geese (each goose represents one year in the life of the martyr Santa Eulalia), or a performer twirling sticks of fire.

I also checked out the Picasso Museum, which had been set up by Picasso himself and to which he personally donated a huge collection of his early works. I was completely blown away with his Las Meninas series, in which he painted 44 stylized interpretations of Velázquez's famous painting. Another great museum I visited was the MACBA (Museu d'Art Contemporani de Barcelona). Since I came here the morning of my last day I only had enough time to check out an exhibit on Barcelona's Francesc Torres, a multimedia and conceptual artist focused on themes of memory, culture and politics.

I was really looking forward to amazing food on this trip but was slightly disappointed. I guess we weren't going to the right places, but we encountered undercooked chicken or almost raw minced meat at several restaurants we chose x_X Thankfully Paul, who had lived in Barcelona for 2.5 years, met up with us a few days later and took us to a great place by Port Olympic and we enjoyed seafood paella on the beach. We did it Spanish style too, starting our lunch at 3:30pm and eating until 5pm — it was a fantastic meal with good food, nice scenery, beautiful weather, and great company ^_^

Posted by mich at 11:43 AM | return | dreams [0]

February 9, 2008

Happy Year of the Rat!

Gong hei fat choi! ^__^ For New Year's Eve my Chinese friend and I prepared a small dinner for a few friends and it turned out quite well! On the menu we had cucumber salad, borscht soup, Peking duck, homemade dumplings, tea leaf eggs, and soy sauce chicken - I was quite impressed by what we pulled off! I took a bunch of pictures so I can show my parents... they won't believe it otherwise, haha.

This evening I was invited out to a new year dinner at a Chinese restaurant with a Chinese group I had just met. It was a bit weird for me though because they were mostly speaking Mandarin and Swedish so I couldn't understand anything unless they spoke to me in English o_O I was so fascinated though by how they just switched back and forth between Chinese and fluent Swedish, it was pretty cool. The dinner was my first taste of European Chinese food (something I had been really reluctant to try) but it wasn't too bad. The cuisine was more northern-China style so it was quite heavy and saucy, which I'm not used to.

So it's finally February, thank goodness. It felt like January would never end with all my endless nights slaving away in front of my computer. It was such a brutal month for me and I swear I almost turned into a zombie with the little sleep I had. But I did manage to squeeze in a few fun activities to keep my spirits up.

Dinner at Koh Phangan
For a friend's birthday we went to to a really great Thai restaurant called Koh Phangan. Right when you walk inside it feels like you entered a tropical paradise of beach huts, bridged walkways, waterfalls and caves. It even had a "rainstorm" in the middle of dinner. The food actually wasn't too bad. I just ordered a simple vegetarian plate of pad thai, but at $25 that was the most expensive pad thai I've ever had!

Colombian Night
My Colombian roommate gathered her Colombian posse over to our place one evening and cooked us a dinner of arepas, chorizos, and beans. Very yummy indeed. They continued the festivities into our living room by cranking up some Latin music and taught the non-Colombians some salsa dancing. That was great fun, but I was stepping all over people's toes :P

Konserhuset
I attended my first symphony concert here watching the Stockholm Philharmonic one afternoon. It was so nice and I got all nostalgic for my symphony-going days with Christina back in Toronto. The repertoire they played that day was a modern set - very punchy, playful and oddly rhythmed, which is something I wasn't used to hearing but I thought it was so fantastic.

Hawaiian Pub Night
Every last Friday of the month my office holds a pub night. This time it was a Hawaiian theme to bring some sunshine to our dark and dreary Scandinavian winter. Some people acted as bartenders all decked out in Hawaiian shirts and mixed colourful fruity drinks complete with umbrellas and pineapples. The Hawaiian island music and leis were the perfect finishing touches... totally made me want to go to Hawaii!

Riga Cruise
Last weekend a group of us took a cruise to Riga, the capital of Latvia. It was an overnight boat trip and everyone was prepared to party and take advantage of the duty free alcohol prices, but our tiny boat was hit by a storm by 9pm. With the extreme rocking and shaking, most of us ended up with pretty bad motion sickness, including yours truly. We finally made it through the night though and spent the next day exploring the city. Riga is pretty small so we were able to see most of the main sites within the day. It still seemed pretty European though... I was expecting more of a Soviet feel. We boarded the ship again that evening and for the ride back we armed ourselves with motion sickness pills. The storm on the second night was actually even worse than the previous but luckily we were already lying down in bed by that time. What an experience... I'll stick with bigger boats next time to Finland and Estonia thank you very much!

Posted by mich at 10:42 PM | return | dreams [0]

January 11, 2008

Holiday in Göteborg

For the holidays I had 11 days off so I spent most of the time hanging out with Paul over on the other side of Sweden. Even though Göteborg (pronounced yur-teh-boor-ay) is the Sweden's second largest city, it's really quite small and compact. I was really starting to miss Stockholm's metro system after the entire week of waiting for trams and buses in the miserable rain.

I did the typical tourist run of the city exploring the Old Town, city centre, and various museums. I was quite disappointed with the two art museums: the fine art museum only had one exhibit of mish-mashed works by a local art collective and its Hasselblad Centre featured a photographer whose works weren't enthralling to me, and the Röhsska Museum was a design and decorative arts museum but the temporary exhibit featuring a video and sound installation was the only thing that stood out for me. The Museum of World Culture was a surprisingly fantastic however, and the building itself was a gorgeous work of architecture. I spent over an hour in one of the feature exhibits called Trafficking, about the human trafficking of women and children mainly for prostitution. It was so appalling reading and watching videos of horrible stories that have taken place in all parts of the world.

Göteborg is the birthplace of Volvo so of course I had to visit the Volvo museum. Unfortunately Paul and I didn't realize how far it was from the city centre so our trip took about an hour. Since we also slept in super late that day we arrived to the museum at 3:30... and the museum was closing at 4. Amazingly there was another pair of visitors that arrived at the same time as us and the museum employees told us to take our time to explore. We didn't realize how big the museum actually was and ended up taking 2 hours to watch an intro film and to walk through all the exhibits. Although I'm not a big car person, I love looking at old-fashioned cars and I'm such a big sucker for the whimsical designs and colours from the 50's. They also had a section for experimental prototypes that was really neat. It featured environmentally friendly concept models including one that actually cleaned the air when being driven!

On my second last day in Gothenburg, the rain finally stopped and we saw sunlight for the very first time! We took advantage of the weather and took a nice ferry ride out to the archipelago to visit one of the islands. We took a quick walk around and admired the quaint traditional Swedish houses, which are mostly wooden and colourfully painted. I love them... I couldn't stop snapping away!

Since Paul's a dancer at the Opera Company I had the pleasure of watching him perform in Askungen, a fun and colourful adaptation of Cinderella. The performance was great... I think that was my first time watching a modern dance performance rather than a ballet so it was quite different and interesting for me.


Posted by mich at 11:57 AM | return | dreams [0]

December 14, 2007

Frankfurt Weekend

Last weekend I headed down to Frankfurt on my own, mainly to check out one of Germany's oldest and largest Christmas markets. It was my first time in Germany and I really enjoyed it, but the language barrier was a bit difficult sometimes. Here in Sweden everyone's extremely proficient in English, so when I arrived in Germany I was a bit surprised at first that not many people spoke or even understood English. I've completely taken for granted the fact that everyone in Sweden knows English!

Since Frankfurt is mostly a financial hub, there's not that much historical or cultural attractions to see, but I did visit three excellent museums: Museum für Moderne Kunst (Museum of Modern Art), Deutsches Architekturmuseum, and Schirn Kunstalle Frankfurt. The MMK had an amazing photography exhibit featuring the works of an American who persuaded her way into some of the most private spaces kept away from the public and documented what goes on inside, including an HIV research lab, death row facility, cryo-preservation unit, Microsoft prototype house, nuclear waste storage area, and headquarters of the KKK. The images were powerful enough on their own but reading the descriptions and background behind each shot really put me in awe. The architecture museum was small but it still had some interesting exhibits like Shrinking Cities that examined social, political, economic and architectural factors for population loss, Contemporary Architecture in Korea, and Gaudí Unseen that put some of Gaudí's unfinished works and ideas on display. The Schirn Kunsthalle's Art Machines Machine Art was the most fun and engaging of the three. It looked at artist-created machines that produce unique and random art and examined the role of artist as engineer and the machine as the art but also the "artist." Viewers were also invited to interact with the machines, thereby becoming part of the art-making process. I felt like a kid again going to all the different stations — two hours later I left the gallery with 4 pieces of original artwork :D

I spent my two evenings walking through the Christmas market. It really required those two nights to see everything in the market since it's SO massive... it goes along various streets and alleyways and spills into not one, but two public squares. I really didn't buy much in the markets, just a cute Santa Christmas ornament and a wooden figure that "smokes" when you open him up and put an incense cone inside. I mostly spent my money on food! That weekend I didn't sit down once to eat because I did all my eating at the street markets. It was the most unhealthy thing, but it was so fun to try all sorts of food from the various stalls (tasty too!) Some of the things I had included: a foot-long sausage, greasy deep-fried potato pancakes with apple sauce, dark chocolate covered fruits on a stick, humongous pretzel, broccoli and cheese pizza, corn on the cob drenched in garlic butter, apple-cinnamon glazed almonds, and a hot mug of apfelwein. I also saw my first Starbucks since arriving in Europe (there's surprisingly no Starbucks in Sweden considering they're the world's heaviest coffee drinkers after Finland), so I caved and treated myself to a 4€ small cup of gingerbread latte (but I was so disappointed they didn't have my peppermint hot chocolate *cries*).

Posted by mich at 5:13 PM | return | dreams [0]

October 5, 2007

Kooza

I went to see Cirque du Soleil for the first time ever and I was so blown away. I've always caught bits and pieces of shows on tv, but it always just seemed "meh" to me on the small screen. For Kooza Christian and I got front row seats and they were amazing.

My favourite act involved this huge long contraption with 2 big hamster wheels at either end. Two guys at each end spun the end wheels, which in turn spun the big machine. Chris and I were sitting right in front of that thing which was pretty scary because it felt like we were going to get hit and we could feel the wind blowing in our faces! These guys were doing the CRAZIEST stunts that had the crowd screaming and yelling in excitement and terror. That was definitely the most exhilarating part of the night. Other performances I loved were the contortionists (but they made me flinch the whole time), a couple who did a dance-like routine on a unicycle, and a guy who did balancing poses on top of stacks upon stacks of chairs. Another amazing feat was done by the tightrope walkers: 2 guys riding across on bicycles connected by a stick, and another guy balancing on a chair on top of that stick! The clown segments in between were hilarious and so much fun too, and the juggler was juggling in a way I had never seen before &mdash with his head and feet. Everything about the show was spectacular: costumes, set and lighting design, and music. I loved it, I want to see them all now!

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I cooked myself a pretty little dinner two nights ago and it turned out quite nice and tasty. The next day though I tried rice pilaf again and ended up with sloppy rice because I added way too much water for too little rice :(

Grilled Chicken with Fresh Tomatoes and Thyme

2 chicken breasts
1 1/2 cups red and yellow cherry tomatoes, cut in half
2 tablespoons chopped sun dried tomatoes
2 teaspoons capers (optional)
1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
2 tablespoons olive oil (or lemon flavored olive oil)
2 tablespoons wine vinegar
Salt
Pepper
Thyme sprigs for garnish

Heat grill to medium high heat. Grill chicken breasts, turning once (about
7 minutes per side). Meanwhile, in large skillet add tomatoes, sun dried tomatoes, capers, garlic, thyme, oil, vinegar, salt and pepper. Heat only until warm. Spoon mixture over chicken breast; garnish with thyme sprigs and serve.

Posted by mich at 5:30 PM | return | dreams [0]

October 3, 2007

Nuit Blanche 2007

The general consensus for this year's "art-thing" was a huge disappointment from last year, and I completely agree. Even though there were more venues and the event drew tons more people, I was quite underwhelmed by the big exhibits that I had been so excited for. Still, I ended up staying out until 7am (and without any caffeine!) to check out as much stuff as I could. In general, many of the descriptions were embellished and made a lot of the pieces sound much more interesting than they actually were; instead, a lot of the work felt uninspired and weren't as engaging. I really missed the creative approach many artists embraced last year in opening up private spaces to the public by converting them for different use.

MOCCA muralI started off the night at Parkdale and made my way towards the downtown core along Queen West. The first thing I noticed was the crowding — there was probably at least double the amount of people, and this year I noticed so many young kids running around (not cool for the artists who had to continually tell the kids to stop playing with their art installations.) The most interesting thing for me in that zone was Play By Hear at CAMH that was a series of horns connected together that mixes and distorts tunes from people's MP3 players. The "hub"Trinity-Bellwoods park was pretty much empty and non-eventful besides the horde of Scotiabank tents... total letdown.

Green ScreenOn the walk up towards OCAD, I went through Kensington Market in hopes to see the ASSBOOK project, where photocopier is available on site for people to photocopy their own fannies, but it was cancelled. Further down the market street I happened upon a booth set up by the Infinite Exchange Gallery, which was probably one of my favourite things of the evening. It was really low-tech, small and intimate. Each artist had an engaging project that called on collaboration from participants and in exchange for a piece of work, "buyers" would have to trade something, whether it be a story, a drawing, etc. One artist had set up a typewriter to write a letter or card to a recipient chosen by the requesting person, and in return the person sender would do a good deed. The artist would then draw up a letter of agreement stating the terms of the good deed and the details of when/what/to whom the letter/card would be delivered that was then signed by both parties. Another section of the booth was for creating BFF pins, where the artist would take pictures of the 2 BFFs and create pins so that each person would have a pin of their BFF. In exchange, each participant had to relay a story or memory of the person they brought. A third artist in San Francisco laid out a stack of homemade postcards and paint chip samples in different shades of greys and black and asked people to cut out the paint chip that matched the current colour of the sky and glue it on the postcard. The person then had to phone the artist in SF to give his/her name and address to receive a postcard with the current sky colour in her location. Really neat idea, except that the person who had called the artist before me got a message saying her voice mail was full. Bah.

White Line LightI continued through OCAD, Yorkville, U of T, the village and Eaton Centre, but everything just seemed mediocre. The hugest disappointment was Nightless City, which people had been touting as the fog event of this year. WRONG! It was was pure cheese as it was just the stores lit up in red light — a literal interpretation of a red light district. Some of the exhibits I quite liked included Ghost Station at lower Bay Station (which apparently had a 1-hour lineup early evening, but by the time I got there at 5am I just walked right in), a fun light-sensitive screen that people posed in front of to capture their shadows at the Italian Embassy, and white line light at the Old Police Station that was an eerie yet captivating light and sound installation consisting of 2 long floating electrical beams resonating with low frequency vibrations.

It was still a fun event to go frolicking about at night, but with such high expectations from last year I totally underwhelmed. If anything, this has inspired me to come up with something of my own for a future Nuit Blanche. For now, I won't be too sad to be missing the one next year, I'll just be looking forward to the one in Paris instead :D

Funnily enough, I'd say the highlight of my evening was the dinner before heading out for the night. Christian took me to The Parkdale Drink, where his friend is the head chef. So in addition to the entrées and appetizers we ordered, his friend sent out some fancy extra plates that weren't on the menu like smoked salmon with cream cheese and dill on Melba toast and a cute little risotto ball (to die for), PLUS deep fried banana dumplings and ice cream.

Posted by mich at 5:11 PM | return | dreams [1]

August 25, 2007

Cramming Summer into 3 Weeks

I can't believe summer's already almost drawing to a close. I feel like I still haven't done many summery activities still — it was only over the last few weeks that I've been trying to pack it all in.

There was one week where Christian, my youngest sister, and my cousin visiting from HK all had their birthdays that same week, so it became a whole week of family dinners and pigging out at b-day dinners: all-you-can-eat Japanese, 3-course "Bunaglicious" meal at Bungalow Café, and a huge family BBQ dinner complete with Baskin ice cream cake. To work it all off Christian and I set off on a 20km rollerblading ride from Queen/Ossington all the way to the beaches and back. It took about 3 hours in total with a 1/2 hour break in the middle. I already developed blisters on each foot only halfway to the beach, but I still managed to truck along, but by the end I was in so much pain that Christian had to help push/pull me along. I fared much better though the weekend after when we rollerbladed around all the islands from Hanlan's Point to Ward's Island and back to Centre Island, where we played on the kiddie rides at Centreville. I can never tire of bumper cars or the ferris wheel! :)

Last week there was the Toronto Fashion & Design Festival, so on Thursday evening I headed down to Yonge-Dundas Square to check out the Highlight Toronto fashion show featuring Toronto designers and set to a live performance by King Sunshine, who were absolutely fabulous. It so was my first time seeing a real fashion show with a catwalk and everything I thought it was pretty cool. I was able to slide my way through the crowd to the very end of the catwalk, where I had an unobstructed view to snap away on my camera. It was too bad I missed the I Heart Kyoto: Ethical Fashion Show earlier that evening because from the photos I saw later on, it was wild: mohawks with punk/rock glam.

fashion_festival.jpg

The next evening I went to High Park to catch the Shakespeare play A Midsummer Night's Dream. The set was like a steel jungle gym, which didn't really make sense to me in the context of the play, but the fairy costumes were colourful, bright and whimsical. The costume styles were set in the 80's and during the play some characters broke out into hilarious rap while still reciting Shakespeare's prose. Despite the rain that resulted in a 30 minute pause of the play, it was a highly enjoying evening.

I went to Buskerfest on Sunday with Christian and Lilly but we couldn't see any of the performers over the mass of heads crowding around. Instead we scoured the area for food stalls and picked up some scrumptious fried dumplings and 3 huge bags of kettle corn, which I'm now obsessed about. It's the perfect combination of salty and sweet. I only first discovered it this year at the Waterloo dragon boat festival, and I craved it when I saw it again at the London regatta but that time they closed up shop before I had the chance to pick up a bag.

On the subject of dragon boat, our team won gold in Division B at London! I actually thought we we were going to lose our gold medal because although we came in first in the final race, we received a 1 sec. penalty before the race even started, which would have put us 0.4 seconds behind the 2nd place team. At the start our boat came so close to the one in the next lane so we were trying to adjust our position, but since we were at the furthest lane the officials didn't know what was going on so he penalized us for wasting time. When we contested the call after the race, they changed their story and said we were trying to get a huge running start ahead of the other boats and were set on the decision. To officially contest the decision would have costed $50 so we didn't bother. However, during the medal ceremony, to everyone's surprise they announced Banana Boat as the first place team. We got our gold medal after all!

Posted by mich at 6:40 PM | return | dreams [0]

July 23, 2007

Harry Potter and FIFA U-20 Madness

Friday evening I ventured out to the Bay/Bloor Indigo to experience the Harry Potter "Midnight Magic" event for the release of the 7th and final installment of the series. I had never been to any of the other releases, but I figured that it'd be neat to check it out for once since it's the last time this sort of thing would ever happen. Bay Street was completely closed off to pedestrian, but we had missed the fun setups earlier that night like the bouncy castle and slides. Instead we got to see some live animals — some were cute, others not so much. I petted a soft barn owl, while Cass had a huge yellow snake sit on her shoulder, and neither of us dared touching the fuzzy tarantula. We didn't make it past midnight though since we couldn't even enter the bookstore without wristbands. According to the Toronto Star, that night the Indigo chain had sold 3 books per second and averaged 50,000 sales per minute.

I just finished re-reading the 6th book to refresh my memory and now I've started on the 7th. Unlike most other people who don't put down the book until it's finished, I plan on prolonging it as long as can, just a few chapters a day. I just don't want it to end! :(

Yesterday I was at the BMO field watching the final games of the FIFA U-20 tournament: the consolation between Chile and Austria, and the final between Argentina and Czech Republic. Neither of the games were as heated as the Thursday Argentina vs Chile game, but they were still lively with some brilliant moments. Argentina had undoubtedly proven themselves to be the most talented team of the tournament, and celebrated a 3-2 victory over the Czechs. It was fantastic watching the team jumping around on the field and climbing into the roaring crowds to celebrate with them.

The best part came when a crazy fan ran onto the field chased by several security guards round and round the field. He kept dodging each guard as they came towards him and at each narrow escape the crowd cheered and applauded. He would have made a great football (American, that is) player. I also finally got to see Craig Forest! He was commentating just above my section so people were trying to call out to him to show his face. Finally after the crowd starting chanting "Come out Craig, come out Craig!" did he peer over to wave at us.

Posted by mich at 10:09 PM | return | dreams [0]

June 7, 2007

Back in the Groove

During the last half of my trip last week I was feeling pretty unhealthy and gross from eating out all week and getting no exercise. So I set on biking 50km instead of 25km for the Becel Ride for Heart that was happening the morning after I returned. Unfortunately I caught a cold the night I got home and the next morning when I woke up at 5:30am I felt horrible — I didn't even want to get out of bed let alone bike. I guess I'm a bit crazy but I forced myself to go and completed the 25k, which felt great after a week of pigging out. My legs felt surprisingly fine after biking hard but my poor nose suffered.

After taking an hour break upon returning to the starting point I biked up to Bloor for the architectural preview of Libeskind's crystal at the ROM as part of the Luminato festival. I had to wait 20 in line to get a free ticket, which had a certain entry time at which I could actually go in. So I returned in line 1.5 hours later to wait in line for another 30 minutes before finally getting into the ROM. Since the preview was to just allow visitors to explore the architectural space, no exhibits were installed yet, which was great. The final structure itself wasn't exactly how I expected it to turn out... I had preferred Libeskind's initial proposal that had the crystal structure made mostly out of glass, but due to technical and environmental factors it wasn't the most feasible solution. Nonetheless it remains a pretty cool piece of architecture and it still allows for some transparency that connects the interior of the museum to the public. I love all the skewed geometries throughout the building: the random cuts of glass slits on the facade, the criss-crossing ceiling lighting in the lobby, the slanted columns that go through each floor, and the interesting bridge walkways that intersect and cross through a dark and empty space (very reminiscent of the Void in Libeskind's Jewish Museum in Berlin). I'm looking forward to see how the space will be filled with the exhibits along with the completion of the rest of project phases.

Last year at TIFF the film Brand Upon the Brain! was screened once in Toronto that ended up selling out so fast and was a huge hit. It returned again to show for its second time here, this time for Luminato, and I was ecstatic that I was able to score tickets for Christina and I. It was playing at the Elgin Theatre and the director Guy Maddin made an appearance to introduce the film. It was the most unique film-going experience I've had, mainly because it was integrated with a live performance. The film was shot in the style of a 1920's black & white silent movie and the entire soundtrack was performed right in the theatre — there was the Toronto Symphony Orchestra for the background score, 3 foley artists for all non-musical sounds and effects, a narrator, and a castrato (although I've read that it was a joke since there are no living castrati, and that the "castrato" was actually lip-synching to a recorded woman's voice). The sound effects brilliantly executed and timed that sometimes I even forgot there were live performers. The film itself was erratically yet beautifully shot, but poor Kris got a bit motion sick from the flashing and jumping images. The storyline looked at the teen detective genre through the eyes of a young Maddin, who placed himself on an island where his evil parents kept a lighthouse that housed orphans for a bizarre purpose — it was all at once intriguing, playful, hilarious, wildly imaginative, mysterious and absurd. My favourite line of the movie was just as random as all the rest: "What's a suicide attempt without a wedding?" In one scene where the characters are trying to bend a stiff corpse back into place, the imagery along with the sound was so grotesque that I was cringing, but when I took a look over at the foley artist creating the crunching sound, he was simply twisting a stalk of celery in half, which made me burst of laughing along with the rest of the audience.

Posted by mich at 9:57 PM | return | dreams [0]

June 5, 2007

New England Road Trip

Last week my family took a vacation where no one was actually left behind (our first one in 7 years!). Our main destination was Boston to visit my cousin's newborn baby, but we ended up booking a resort in Cape Cod 1.5 hours away from the city. We ended up only doing one day in Boston, where we hung out with my other cousin during the day checking out the Museum of Fine Arts and MIT's Strata Centre by my favourite architect, Frank Gehry (with all the money we shelled out, why couldn't the UT comp sci students get such an awesome building like this?!?) In the evening we drove all the way up to Chelmsford, which was faaaar &mdash we were almost at the New Hampshire border &mdash to see my other cousins and to play with the adorable new baby. The next day we ventured out to Newport in Rhode Island, where we took the scenic Ocean Drive, walked along the Cliff Walk overlooking the ocean, and visited a the gorgeous Bellevue Avenue historical mansions. In the evening we stopped at a factory outlet mall in Wrentham for some shopping, but I couldn't justify any purchases for myself after my shopping craze in HK. On our last full day in New England we drove around Cape Cod visiting the various towns (Hyannis, Yarmouth, Chatham and Orleans) and they're beaches and harbours. We bought 3 fresh lobsters and made ourselves a homemade lobster dinner back at the resort, yummy! On the drive back to Montreal we stopped in New Hampshire for some tax free shopping in Manchester. I scored myself my first pair of rollerblades and my very first laptop, a Sony Vaio, yay! Gotta take advantage of the exchange rate, y'know? ;)

In Montreal I went to see the Once Upon a Time Walt Disney exhibit at the Museum of Fine Arts, which was the only North American stop. It was a fascinating exhibit that looked at Disney's various inspirations ranging from literary and cinematic sources to classical art and architecture and that included original sketches, storyboards and design backgrounds of Disney's golden era that spanned from Snow White to The Jungle Book. I never had an appreciation for Sleeping Beauty's angular and stylized medieval look, but after having a chance to see one of the huge background paintings close up I noticed all the amazing detail and graphical patterns (and only using solid blocks of colour) that went into the forest scenes, I was in complete and total awe. Another highlight of the exhibit was the screening of the beautiful short film Destino, which was a collaboration between Salvador Dali and Disney that began in 1945 and was finally completed in 2003. Of the many exhibits I've been to, this one was definitely the BEST one I've ever seen by far (but I may be teeny bit biased!) If anybody is in Montreal this month (Coach Canada even has a super duper $10 deal for trips between Toronto and Montreal!) definitely check it out since it closes at the end of June.

The main reason for our stop in Montreal was for my sister's convocation at McGill. Thank goodness her music faculty was small so the ceremony only lasted a little over an hour, unlike the U of T ones that go over 3 hours. The best part was the reception afterwards with all the amazing food that just kept on coming and the delectable desserts. After all that food we had to walk it all off with some shopping at Simons before having a late dinner at an Indian restaurant at St. Laurent/Sherbrooke, which had the best Tandoori chicken I've ever tasted.

Posted by mich at 11:53 AM | return | 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 | return | dreams [0]

March 8, 2007

Nuit Blanche Montreal

Aaargh, I posted this entry up, but somehow it didn't get saved so I had to re-type it. *sigh*

CN DerailementI'm back from my Nuit Blanche weekend in Montreal. We were fortunate enough to have fantastic weather the entire weekend— tons of snow and mild temperatures. Because of the snowstorm last Thursday, the huge CN derailment in Pickering hadn't cleared yet by Friday so there were concerns of the Via Rail trains being delayed at least 2 hours. Christian and I were really lucky in not having to bus it up to Oshawa to catch the train from there, and only ended up being delayed 25 minutes. (As we found out later, the next train after us at 6:30 wasn't so lucky; passengers had to take the bus and then transfer to the train, which ended up getting into Montreal at 2am. Yikes.) We got in at 10pm, dropped off everything at Vanessa's place, then headed out to Rockaberry's to indulge in some massive apple and strawberry/peach crumble pies with huge heapings of ice cream. Needless to say, I had no appetite the next morning for breakfast or lunch... whoops.

Snowed InOn our walk through McGill towards the Eaton Centre, we randomly bumped into Karman, who was just visiting for the weekend as well. We decided to meet up again later that night for the evening's festivities and went our own separate ways. I only had one destination that afternoon, and it was Simons of course! This occasion was quite record-breaking... normally I spend at least 2 hours in the store, but this time I was in and out within 30 min (so unheard of, eh?!) I wasn't too wowed by the collection this season, and I also felt really reserved in spending money on clothes, knowing that I'd be going shopping crazy in HK soon. I just ended up getting a turquoise knit sweater with nice big buttons that was on sale :) We killed the rest of the afternoon walking up St-Denis, strolling around the plateau and picking up our mandatory bagels from St-Viateur. For dinner we went out with Vanessa and Jeremy to Chinatown to try Restaurant Uyghur, which features cuisine from China's Xianjian Uyghur Autonomous Region, a remote, Muslim region in Western China. The food's an interesting blend of Chinese, Russian, Pakistani, Afghani, and Turkish cuisine. We had fresh hand-made noodles served with stir-fried lamb and vegetables called Laghman, fried meat dumplings (a little on the cold side though), stir-fried green onions and beef and a hot pan of curry chicken with veggies. Overall the food was pretty good, and nothing close to the typical Chinese food I'm used to.

Boingy BoingyDinner went on a bit later than we wanted so we missed the 8pm fireworks at Vieux Port. Our group made our way to Vieux Port where we met up again with Karman and Rick at the Montreal Science Centre, then walked around checking out a fresco on ice decorated by public participation, a silent disco dome and buskers at Place Jacques Cartier while eating our freshly rolled tire sure neige. We waited in line to get into City Hall where we watched some professional ballroom dancers strut their stuff, and later on, watched the public learn some moves.

Jérôme Fortin's Paper SculptureThe highlight of the evening was definitely the Museum of Contemporary Art, which was free all throughout the evening. The lobby was host to Les Imprudanses, an improvisational dance match between two professional dance teams, while the upper level showcased a set of 3 exhibits entitled Ingenious3 featuring Jean-Pierre Gauthier, Jérôme Fortin, Guy Ben-Ner. We saw some amazing kinetic, sonic and visual installations by Gauthier, massive wall pieces by Fortin that were constructed using rows upon rows of tediously folded printed material like mangas and maps, and a humourous instructional video by Ben-Ner that complemented his treehouse sculpture made with IKEA furniture pieces.

DovesAfter a good two hours at the museum we walked along Ste-Catherine to St. James United Church for The Organ Ogres performances. Not being a huge organ music fan, I thought it was just so-so. At 3am we went across the street to Édifice Belgo, an old building full of small gallery spaces, which really reminded me of U of T's art building on Spadina Circle. The best exhibit was the fantastical Foulard en Cou, where walking through a set of pink gauzy curtains revealed dreamy paradise filled with a raining cloud fountain, a swing set hanging from the ceiling, a video projection of a woman in a peacock headdress playing the harp, a fluffy cave, and white doves freely roaming around. I held a dove and it liked me so much that it wouldn't let go for the longest time, so I ended up walking around with a bird on my hand.

FloatingOn our way back to Place des Arts we happened upon an impromptu snowball fight between us pedestrians on the sidewalk and some strangers atop the balcony. I was doing well avoiding the snowballs, and even ducked a huge slab of snow coming towards me. Jeremy, however, decided he wanted to "protect" us from the slab and punched it, which flew towards my face. That was swell, thanks buddy! :P Finally, we checked out a small music performance and grabbed some greasy fries from La Belle Province before calling it a night at 4:30am.

We slept in until noon the next day, bought our stash of smoked meat from Schwartz across the street, and brunched at an great place Jeremy discovered called Caffè ArtJava on Mont-Royal. They're really well-known for their coffees, but their breakfast plates are absolutely fabulous. We tried each others different dishes and each was such a unique take on traditional breakfast fare. I must say that the french toast I ordered stuffed with cinnamon apples was the best french toast I've ever had. I must go back next time!


Posted by mich at 4:30 PM | return | dreams [0]

February 8, 2007

Opening Night

Last Saturday was the opening reception of my group exhibition You Are Here: The Emotional Geography of Place. It was my first reception in a gallery, so it was pretty exciting. I was surprised by how many people were actually there. The type of works varied in both media and subjects, and there were a few pieces that really intrigued me. I got to meet with some of the artists and chat with them for a while. I met another photographer who, it turns out, works at Toronto Image Works and had actually printed my photographs in the exhibition. What a small world.

Yesterday was my third Winterlicious lunch &mdash this time at Monsoon with the office. I was pretty happy with each of the dishes I ordered: confit duck and vegetable roll with Korean barbeque sauce, szechuan marinated beef (oh so tender!) with saffron rice served with wok fried greens and hoisin jus, and ginger infused crme brule with green tea meringue. I loved the crme brule and I must say, that touch of ginger really makes all the difference! That evening I went to my very first opera, Shostakovichs Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk. It was hella long, but the music was fantastic &mdash really dramatic and emotional. The set design was pretty interesting, as it created a 2-tiered stage that used the entire height of the set. I actually expected more from the actual story... it wasn't as soap opera-ish as I thought it would be. And I totally agree with Christina that the ending was pretty anti-climatic. I expected more deaths!

Posted by mich at 10:46 PM | return | dreams [0]

February 2, 2007

WinterCity

It's been a long while since I last wrote a post- I've barely been home this entire week >_< Now for a little recap.

AppetizerLast Friday was the start of the WinterCity festival so I had a Winterlicious lunch with Sandra and Christina at Vertical. My 3-course meal consisted of seared & cured scallops with fregola & sweet peppers for the appetizer (which turned out to be one gigantic scallop), then butternut squash gnocchi with oyster mushrooms, toasted hazelnuts and brown butter, and finished off with a chocolate & expresso mousse cake. Overall the food was quite good. My gnocchi tasted great, but it just became too cheesy and oily for me near the end. I also wish I had gotten the passion fruit gelato that San and Kris ordered because it was fantastic... my cake was just a bit too heavy for me, especially after all that pasta.

That evening was the opening celebration at Nathan Phillips where the Italian group Kitonb performed Carillon, a theatrical piece involving dance and acrobatics. The performance was so-so; I now tend to compare all the public performances to Malaya, which was so spectacular- I haven't seen anything like that since. Later in the evening, the Philosopher Kings came on for a great show. Even though it was freezing out they managed to draw in a huge crowd and got everyone in a dancing mood. Unfortunately for me, after having stood outside for 2 hours in snow and slush, my toes completely froze over and I was left limping to a warm retreat.

WallpaperThe next day I had my second Winterlicious lunch at Drake Hotel with Christina, Jon and Faye. I've been to the Drake a few times for some lounging and art happenings, but this was my first time eating there. I must say, the food was amazing: I had mixed green salad with toasted pumpkin seeds, pecorino & pears for the appetizer, then red wine braised beef with soft polenta & fennel roasted carrots, and for dessert, milk chocolate & lemon pot de crme with whipped cream and pumpkin seed gingersnaps. I was pleasantly surprised the food was actually that good- I'll definitely be eating there again.

Posted by mich at 5:15 PM | return | dreams [0]

January 31, 2007

You Are Here Exhibit

Here's another one of my shameless plugs:

I'm exhibiting 2 photographs in the group show entitled "You Are Here: The Emotional Geography of Place" at the Eastern Front Gallery, which opened today and runs until February 18. The opening reception takes place this Saturday, February 3 from 7-10pm and is open to the public. I'd love it if you guys came out and checked out the show!

Posted by mich at 10:56 PM | return | dreams [0]

January 10, 2007

I'm in Contact!

After trying for 2 years to exhibit at the Contact Photography Festival, I finally got my in today! And I didn't even have to try :P So this afternoon at work I got a phone call from Eastern Front Gallery informing me that 2 of my pieces I submitted for their February show "You are Here: The Emotional Geography of a Place" was accepted. Hooray! The person continued on to tell me that they loved my work not only for the visual quality of it but they were intrigued by the concept of my series, so they wanted to invite me as 1 of 3 artists in the gallery's Contact show in May. When I heard that I almost flipped out, I think I started shaking. I can't believe I'm in Contact now: it's the largest photography festival in North America and the artists get so much exposure... I'm SO EXCITED!!

Salvaged 8 detailYesterday I visited some galleries at 401 Richmond and came across an interesting exhibit called "Rearrangements: Sculpture/Performance/Photography" inside Gallery 44. There were two architectural sculptures using various found objects and photographs of interior spaces to create this new mini architectural space. This image shows a detail of one how the artists juxtaposed the fragments. Personally I find this kind of photo-based work so fascinating. I've ventured into the mixed-media photo-based experimentation quite a bit, but it's these kinds of pieces that opens my eyes to how far you can push the practice of photography and inspires me to go beyond what I have worked with up to this point.

Posted by mich at 10:29 PM | return | dreams [1]

December 14, 2006

Christmas in the Springtime

It's halfway through December and it's been unseasonably warm with temperatures hovering between 5-10 degrees. Crazy global warming- I want my snow! I should get moving along on my holiday duties. Aside from having only just mailed out some Christmas cards, I haven't started any of my Christmas shopping or decorated my tree (but it's up!) I can't help it, I don't get into the mood until crunch time. I actually found a fun site called Simon Sez Santa which is an interactive video version of the game Simon Says. Santa will do some hilarious things if you give him the right command. My favourite is "kill rudolph".

In Flight

A couple of weekends ago I had my In Flight exhibit opening at Pearson Airport's Terminal 1. It was the public preview day for the new Pier F that will handle transborder flights (Terminal 1 will continue to expand until eventually replacing Terminal 2 entirely). The new space was really nice and the long pier led to an open space where a massive steel sculpture called Tilted Sphere The most impressive aspect of the piece was when you go into the middle or through the side passages you could hear some really great echoes resonating all around you.

The unfortunate thing about my exhibit was that the pieces were in glass frames which where then all displayed behind another sheet of glass so there was a lot of glare coming at the viewer. In any case, it was exciting to be a part of the exhibit and I ended up taking a bunch of photos of my piece along with the other works on display. Our final stop for the day was the artist reception, where we got to pig out on many delectable goodies.

Intersection of Memory

Hockey

Ball hockey season ended on Monday with our final playoff game against 1maniacs (aka "whine" maniacs). That team played so rough and their guys were even body checking us girls, which was peeving me off. I was still harbouring some anger from our previous match against them in which I was tripped to the ground, body checked by guys twice my size, slashed in the ankle and elbowed in the face. So during this week's game, when one of the guys flicked up my stick to keep from hitting the ball, my stick flew up near his face. He starting whining that I was high sticking and that I almost hit him in the face. I was like, dude, you inflicted that on yourself! Yet he wouldn't stop complaining and yelling at me, so then I proceeded to call him a jerk :O No more miss nice girl. The rest of the game continued on with their ridiculous antics. We were originally losing but near the end we started to come back for a tiebreaker. I played so hard like I had never played before and we finally won in sudden death! Whoopee, all that work for 2nd last place :P Victory is oh so sweet!

Posted by mich at 10:22 PM | return | dreams [0]

November 29, 2006

And All That Jazz

Last Sunday I went to see the musical Chicago playing a 2-week run at the Princess of Wales Theatre. It was only after I had decided to see it at the last minute that I found out that Kevin Richardson of the Backstreet Boys was in it, which made me tingle with excitement. And holy smokes, was he ever amazing- I can go as far as to say that he totally made the show. He played the role of the sleazy, money-grubbing Billy Flynn and performed the most enjoyable and entertaining numbers of the night. The set design was very simple but worked really well to create a vaudeville show feel. It was an evening of laughs, comical surprises and great songs, plus we had amazing centre seats in the orchestra section (with a 40% discount, no less)!

--------------------

Tonight I just got back from a lecture at Ryerson demonstrating Apple's Aperture software for editing and managing photos (particularly RAW images). The speaker just showed some basic features of the program, which compared to Photoshop, really makes the editing workflow so much easier and faster. From my experience, just the simple task of wanting to carefully examine and compare several photographs up-close is a bit annoying to do in Photoshop, but Aperture actually has a really elegant feature to execute this. As most people already know, I'm really not a big fan of Mac computers, but I would seriously consider getting one just for this crazy Aperture doodad :O I guess it will come down to what is the most important tool I should put my money towards: Leica D-LUX 3 (no, 7 cameras aren't enough for me :P), good film scanner, photo printer, or a laptop. Decisions, decisions.

Posted by mich at 11:11 PM | return | dreams [0]

November 28, 2006

In Flight

My In Flight exhibit is coming up! On Sunday December 3rd there will be a public preview day for the opening of the exhibit (among others) and to see the new International Pier at Terminal 1, which officially opens next January (and will become a post-security travellers area after that). I'm really excited to be a part of this exhibition and I would love it if you all would come to check it out as well!

Details

Date: Sunday December 3, 2006
Time: 10am - 6pm
Location: Destination West Gallery, Terminal 1, Toronto Pearson International Airport

Posted by mich at 7:40 PM | return | dreams [0]

November 22, 2006

Whodunit?

The OCAD Whodunit? Mystery Art Sale kicks off today with a public preview until Friday. During the preview you get to look at all the pieces to decide which you want to buy (each piece is 5 1/2" x 7 1/2" and $75). Then on Saturday between 9am to 5pm it's a first come, first served sale to get a hold of your favourite pieces and to find out the mystery artist. Check it out! Yours truly has donated a couple of pieces to the event- can you figure out which?

Posted by mich at 9:25 AM | return | dreams [0]

November 20, 2006

Dance, Food, and Santa

Friday evening was a girl's night out. Christina and I met up after work to have a scrumptious dinner at Il Fornello, where we split a pizza with caramelized onions,smoked chicken, spinach and roasted pine nuts, a pear and strawberry salad, and tiramisu. Although we were pretty full already, the tiramisu was so delicious that we just had to order a second one, haha, oy! After dinner we went to the opera house to watch The Sleeping Beauty ballet. The performance was so beautiful and the costumes were absolutely stunning. The dancer in the role of Aurora was spectacular, having done a really difficult feat of both strength and balance (as was explained to the audience in an informative lecture before the show). Apparently the principal dancer goes through 2 or 3 pointe shoes every show; just goes to show you how much stress and pressure their feet must endure. The most surprising thing was that I didn't realize the Disney movie used variations of the music from the ballet, so I could recognize a lot of different parts the orchestra was playing. It was really quite interesting to see how the music was interpreted so differently in the ballet and movie: most notably, a piece that was played with a really sensual, playful and jazzy tone during a cat dance was the same piece used by Disney that became evil and menacing during a witch scene. I was kind of expecting a big dramatic climax when the witch dies, but all it took for her defeat was a simple cut of her string from the spinning wheel- like, where was the part when she's supposed to turn into a dragon?! Haha, j/k j/k... but still, that "climax" was kinda cheesy. Aside from that, I had a wonderful time and the 3 hours just flew right by.

Saturday night was Tony's birthday dinner so we went to the new Wasabi Japanese buffet that just opened in Richmond Hill. The place was so jam-packed that it was a struggle to get around the food area. But the selection was quite impressive- they even had a chocolate fondue fountain! I ate too much though (especially desserts :X) After dinner I made Christmas sugar cookies from scratch, which turned out surprisingly okay, considering how disastrous the dough was turning out. The dough was so dry and crumbly that I had to add in an extra egg and water to bind everything together. In the end only half the batch was successful, as I had turned the other half into rock-hard discs. What a terrible recipe; I'm not even going to bother posting it up this time.

The Santa Clause parade was yesterday and I with some fellow dodgeballers volunteered to help Sick Kids sell necklaces and toques to the crowds. The weather was so cold out that day, and after walking around from 10:30am to 2pm yelling out to the crowds, my feet were so frozen that I was limping and my throat was so sore. I think overall we were able to raise a lot of money for the hospital so that all made up for it :)

Posted by mich at 9:30 PM | return | dreams [0]

November 15, 2006

Toronto Alternative Art Fair International

The TAAFI was held last weekend at the Drake and Gladstone hotels. At the Drake there was a cute old-fashioned photobooth I was checking out when I bumped into an old classmate from my landscapes class at U of T. We were catching up and she took me to see her pieces at one of the Queen street galleries, where she introduced me to the gallery owner. The owner agreed to take a look at my stuff to see if my pieces are worthy of representation, which is pretty exciting! (But now I gotta spend some a lot of time putting together my portfolio) I spent an hour there checking out the pieces and chatting around before I continued westwards to the Gladstone, where my 3rd year drawing instructor, Ed Pien, was showing as a Gladstone invitational. The first room I stepped into was that of Bruno Billio, who is the residential artist. I met him and he asked me to help him take a few shots around the room for his documentation. The rest of the afternoon I got to see a lot of really neat and unique pieces. Here is a collection of some of the artwork that were there. After finishing up with the exhibits, I headed back to the Drake photobooth to take some fun pictures of myself. Due to the silly/retarded nature of my poses, I'll withhold those from public viewing.


Posted by mich at 8:38 PM | return | dreams [1]

October 6, 2006

Nuit Blanche 2006

Last Saturday's Nuit Blanche, "a free all-night contemporary art thing" turned out to be quite a spectacular event. I walked through a misty path, witnessed the divorce of two gay penguins and played in a room of rubber balls to 10-year old DJs. Although it was a bit rainy, I was determined to stick it out all night. Surprisingly there was still a huge turnout regardless of the weather. The night had a Hallowe'en vibe seeing everyone wandering the streets in the deark going from place to place. Here's how it unfolded:

7:01pm

Nuit Blanche officially starts and Christian and I are swept up the CN Tower to the Skypod for a one hour participatory photo installation. Basically, visitors had to make a reservation in advance in order to go up for free and the pictures taken that evening will be part of the Contact festival in May 2007. I shot as decent photos as I could without a tripod. Christian accidentally left his flash on and got a few nasty complaints from people doing long exposures. LOL. Oh well, accidents happen.

8:40pm

We met up with Christina at Queen & Spadina and headed over to the 401 Richmond for the various gallery exhibits in the converted factory. At the Prefix Institute of Art was Sphere, a ceiling project of light refracted through water that created interesting patterns from a deep hum coming from speakers. Then we checked out my group show Insomnia at the Red Head Gallery. After the 401 we walked up McCaul Street and on our way we encountered How to Respond in an Emergency, a series of performances by people dressed in police uniforms doing the tango on the street. At the Harrison Baths and Swimming Pool was Roy & Silo's Gay Divorce, which was a series of video and sound installations scattered thoughout the site - lockers, swimming pool and showers - documenting the the gay penguins' love story. A fun surprise was entering the pool area and seeing a bunch of balloon penguins floating on plates over the water. In the background was a video projection of a waterfall falling upwards. We continued up along McCaul to the OCAD area, where we first stopped into Ballroom Dancing in the University Settlement House. The gym area was turned into a dancefloor filled with colourful rubber balls with music supplied by 10-year old DJs. I got struck by a ball that hit my camera, which whammed into my stomach. Ouch! That was my cue to leave. Across the park was Model for a Public Space (speaker) that looked like circular bleachers. I had no idea what the point of this thing was... people were just walking on the tracks and just circling. Apparently, it was supposed to facilitate conversations, and there were supposed to be some speakers and musicians to engage the public, but there was absolutely nothing going on when we were there. Next up was Butterfield Park at OCAD filled with games: a chess game with massive chess pieces, Twister, and marble tournament. Coincidentally, we bumped into Ben and Alice, whose pieces I also saw at the 401 Richmond. They were the only other people I had met in my art classes that had turned out to be in comp sci as well. Anyhow, it turned out that CS just wasn't for them since they're now attending OCAD :P But it was pretty cool seeing them and catching up with them for a bit. Over on the University Avenue median at Dundas, renowned performance artist (and U of T faculty!) Tanya Mars set up a honkin' long table filled with plates, cutlery, and elegant tiered cakes. Tanya Mars and a fellow performer were dressed in fancy costumes as they each sat at one end of the table and ate cake... all... night... long. It was such an interesing concept (commenting on excess and consumption) and it drew a large crowd of amused onlookers.

11:15pm

We parted ways with Kris as she headed home and we continued trekking up Univeristy to the U of T campus. At the brand new pharmacy building, the cool classroom pods were bathed in colourful lights that were on full display to the street level. How cool would it be to learn in a pod... it puts the CS Bahen building to shame. Futher into the campus we went into University college and Hart House, bu there was nothing really remarkable that we saw. It turned out that we had missed a lot of cool things at Hart House including the pool, which was transformed by candlelight. Next up was the most stunning piece of the evening: Fog in Toronto #71624 on Philosopher's Walk that was a fog structure created by Japanese Fujiko Nakaya, who creates artificial fog atmospher all around the world. It felt so mystical walking along the path; the fog wove through all the trees and the lights shining from various spots created some beautiful silhouettes. Further up the Philosopher's Walk was One Garden One Night One Wish that had trees transformed by silver string and wishes written on paper. The public was invited to take a wish and tie it to the branches of the tree. Over at the music building engineering prof (and human cyborg), Steve Mann, was showing off his hydraulophone, which was a water sculpture/instrument that sounds like an organ when you play it. Continuing eastward on the campus were a few more installations, including Garden of Light at Victoria College, then past a field of sheep projected on the ROM's planetarium dome, and a neon sign on the faade of Church of Redeemer imploring us to "Hold that Thought". Around the Yorkville area the only things that really struck me were Pharma©opia, three giant floating pills, and Maize Barbacoa, a corn roasting performance (free corn)! I waited in line for about 5 minutes before we were told that the artist was taking a 30 minute break. Ah boo urns... I was starving at that point and far away from Chinatown. Apparently, the lime corn was delicious and well worth the wait. We wanted to take The Toronto Performance Transit System down to the West Queen West district so we waited at the bus stop at 2:00 am. Supposedly it comes around every 20 minutes and the people already at the stop had been waiting for 10 minutes. So we waited. And waited. And waited. By 2:40 am the bus finally came around, but it had no performances (unlike a previous one we saw with silver paper plastered all over the windows) AND it didn't go all the way to Zone C. Instead, we were dropped off at Queen and John, where we had to take the streetcar. What a waste of time.

3:30am

We got off the TTC in front of the Gladstone Hotel that had a bunch of exhibits on all its floors. I really wanted to check it out but there was a long lineup, it was rainy, and Christian looked so exhuasted and miserable. So I dragged him quickly eastwards along the Queen Street strip, and stopping briefly to see Istvan Kantor's Revolutionary Song / Chanson mourir in an empty parking lot, car washes-turned-cinemas, The Cinderella Project at the West Side Lofts Sales Office, and Rebecca Belmore's melting ice sculpture at Royal Car Wash. In the MOCCA courtyard, a video projection entitled 24 hour 3 Stoogers that played Three Stooges episodes in slow motion. Further into the courtyard was a performance artist sleeping peacefully in a glass box, which was really creepy because it looked like she was dead. We finally reached Trinity Bellwoods Park - the end of Zone C. I had been looking forwaed to Electronic Sky, which had sounded so cool but had turned out to be really cheesy. In the Trinity Community Centre next to the park, the pool was transformed into a Roman Bath with DJs filling up the space with music. I had also wanted to check this out, but the line up was an hour long :( So we called it a night at 4:30 am.

Overall, despite some rainy periods, the night turned out to be fabulous. There was so much energy on the streets and I was so ready to stay around until sunrise. But too bad my other half couldn't make it... maybe next year.

Posted by mich at 7:25 PM | return | dreams [0]

September 29, 2006

Art Happenings and Stuff

Tomorrow night is Toronto's first ever Nuit Blanche, an all-nighter of art events, installations, happenings and stuff throughout the entire city. And I'll be there all night long. Paris has been hosting these nights for years now and so has Montreal during it's Festival of Lights in February. (Unfortunately, the 2 times I've been to the festival, I was there at the wrong time and missed the all-nighters.)

There's so many cool things to see! I'm especially excited for Fujiko Nakaya's Fog in Toronto #71624 taking place at U of T's Philospher's Walk and David Warne and Kevin Krivel's Electronic Sky at Trinity Bellwood's Park. I've also booked a time slot to go up the CN Tower Sky Pod for their photo-based art installation in conjunction with Contact.

*start shameless plug*
And last, but not least, my work will also be part of tomorrow night's event. I'm in a group show called Insomnia that takes place at 401 Richmond's Red Head Gallery. But if you miss is tomorrow, you still have until October 7 to catch it :P
*end shameless plug*

Time to hit the sack early. Long day ahead tomorrow.

Posted by mich at 9:20 PM | return | dreams [0]

September 28, 2006

Stars & Intrigue

A lot has happeend within these 3 weeks. Aside from the unfortunate events, it was really quite busy.

The Toronto International Film Festival came and went. It kicked off the Inuit film The Journals of Knud Rasmussen. I was volunteering that night but it was a pretty quiet affair. Nothing too remarkable about the evening, except a throat singer that came on the stage before the film and did a hauntingly beautiful performance. The coolest part of the evening was meeting one of the volunteers who was also at the One Inch Punch button exhibit. She was sporting the buttons she had collected the night of the show and told me how hard she tried to acquire my Legomania design. Luckily I had a couple of extras lying around in my bag so I gave one to her. She insisted on trading me one of hers that I really liked so she gave up the button "Untitled" by Shannon Pirie that I had initially had, but sacrificed in order to get "Pretty in Pink"... sweet!

The film fest was crazy on the Saturday for the gala screenings of A Good Year and Babel, starring Brad Pitt. Apparently the rush lines had started at 7am for the evening tickets (but those people didn't even end up getting to see either film because of the disorganization of the outside captains- what a shame). That evening I was working in the sponsor boxes on the main floor, in which Farley Flex from Canadian Idol was sitting. I offered him a program but he refused :( The boxes were really close to the stage so I got to see Russell Crowe and Brad Pitt up close when they went up to the stage for their respective films. Holy, Brad Pitt looked so good in person! After actors get off the stage they walk through the backstage area and up the stairs to get to their seats. While trying to get into the volunteer lounge backstage, me and a handful of other volunteers had to wait until the cast went by, so I got to see Russell Crowe walk right by me. He looked at us, but meh... I'm not a big fan of the guy. As for Brad though, he walked right past me and I ddn't even notice; I just saw the rest of the cast that came behind him. Nooo!

My next two shifts were on the balcony floor during the screenings of For Your Consideration and All the King's Men on Sunday, and Dixie Chicks - Shut Up and Sing and Mon Meilleur Ami on Tuesday. Sunday was pretty busy too. For the first film, they brought up most of the cast, which was HUGE. I caught an up-close glimpse of Jamie Lee Curtis in the balcony right below me and she was simply stunning. I had no idea she was married to Christopher Guest, the director of For Your Consideration. I got to sit in for that film, which was a mockumentary of Hollywood during Oscar buzz season. It was a complete riot- the whole audience was sent into peals of laughter the entire time. Later that evening for All the King's Men I got to see James Gandolfini, Kate Winslet, Mark Ruffalo, Sean Penn, Jude Law, and Samuel L. Jackson. Tuesday night was super slow. The only famous people I saw were the Dixie Chicks, but they refused to come up on stage for their own movie. The french film was not sold out so I got to sit in to watch that, but left halfway through because I thought it was a bit too silly and unbelievable.

Throughout the festival I earned a bunch of free movie vouchers so on the last Friday of the festival I stood in the rush line to see Manufactured Landscapes, which is about the photographer Edward Burtynsky documenting the economic devastation in China. It was one that I was set on seeing, so you could imagine my disappointment when Christian and I finally got to the front, there was just one ticket left :( So we waited a litle longer for the next film and somehow were given 2 free tickets from someone for The Magic Flute. After seeing that film and last year's U-Carmen eKhayelitsha, I don't think any opera should be translated on the big screen. It just doesn't work. I must say though that it was a fun and whimsical piece nonetheless.

The other movie I saw was The Banquet at the Elgin Theatre starring Zhang Ziyi. The visuals were beautiful, but the story, based on Hamlet, was pretty weak. It was too bad I couldn't catch more films because it seemed like this year's festival was jam-packed with some amazing and diverse films.

****

For the past 2 weeks I've been immesed in Torgame's Waking City. It's basically an "alternate reality"/urban exploration game that takes you all around the city to solve puzzles that feeds into a twisted mysterious narrative. All the while you're dealing with characters that send you emails and letters, asking for information, and phoning you to meet with them to give you more clues on the sly. When I signed up for it, I was so not prepared for all the commitment and effort you had to put in. If there is just one word to describe this game that would be INTENSE. All the hours of walking and walking only to gather clues to solve puzzle after puzzle takes a toll on you. And these puzzles were freakin' hard and time consuming. At first it was seperate teams playing individually but gradually we had to start working in bigger teams and then eventually as one big group. It finally all wrapped up tonight when everyone congregated at the Bloor Cinema where we watched City Playground, a series of films about people using public space as their playground, and were surprised with a video near the end that wrapped up the storyline for our game. All in all, the game was a pretty cool concept, but it became way too involved that a lot of people just started dropping out. I'm just relieved that it's finally over with, and now I can get back to my life.

Posted by mich at 11:15 PM | return | dreams [0]

July 20, 2006

One Inch Punch

I submitted a button design, which has been chosen as one of designs that will be exhibited this Saturday evening at the Lennox Contemporary Gallery. Anyone's invited to come out, and if you want a button, let me know :P

oneinchflyer.jpg
Posted by mich at 11:34 PM | return | dreams [0]

June 25, 2006

Batch Update

It's been a busy week leaving me with no time to write. So here it is.

Last Saturday I watched 2 World Cup games during the day before heading downt to Little Italy for the Taste of Little Italy. It was pretty fun walking down the street becuase of all the flags being waved by the football fans. Many of the Italian restaurants were jam packed with long wait times so Chris and I had dinner at Utopia for sandwiches and burgers. In the evening I skipped out on my dragonboat team's fundraiser event at Touch Lounge for Sam's farewell party at Up Lounge for one last get together before he left for Dallas.

Sunday morning Chris and I went to Little Italy for brunch at Sicilian Sidewalk Caf in Little Italy and to watch the match between Brazil and Australia. The game was good, but the service at the cafe was absolutely lousy: our waitress never brought the ketchup we ask for, she didn't bring the bill until 30 min after we had asked for it, she insisted that my hot water should be charged as tea, and then wouldn't give me back the proper change because she didn't have enough money on her. What is that?? Afterwards I went into a gelato shop for some tiramisu gelato- my first taste of frozen dessert goodness in over a month! It was heaven. That evening I took my parents and relatives for Father's Day dinner at Pacific mall, where we saw our old family friends from Ottawa for like the third time in a row. What crazy coincidences- that's the only place we ever see bump into them.

Monday night was my dodgeball team's last playoff game where we completely creamed our opponent. In the end we finished 3rd out of 11... not too shabby. After that I rushed home to watch the taped Spain game, which was absolutlely thrilling. Behind a goal in the first half, then a total comeback with 3 goals!

Tuesday after work I met up with Kris to go to Sandra's convocation. Afterwards we tried out the new Tibetan/Indian restaurant on Queen called Everest. We shared samosas, a Tibetan dish of tofu, mushrooms and other veggies, and a dish of butter chicken. We met up with Janine later for the TSO performance Last Night of the Proms. It was, without a doubt, the most fun and lively evening I've ever had at the symphony. The first piece was Mavis in Las Vegas, which was full of so many different styles, from big band jazz to wedding chapel music, as it took you on a journey through the many parts of Vegas. Happy Birthday was played in different variations of styles like Hadyn, Mozard, Beethoven, Wagner, 30s film, and Hungarian folk dance. Then came the ever popular Rule Britannia, which got everyone waving their British and Canadian flags, and even doing the wave around the whole auditorium. During Fantasia on British Sea Songs, one cellist used his bow to play a saw, which sounded like music being played underwater. It was so amazing to watch him play the saw so beautifully and be able to hit all the notes with such precision. Then came Pomp and Circumstance, which had the starting brass section playing so aloof, out of sync and somewhat off-key as if they were in a high school band. Sitting above them was the choir acting as bored graduates fanning themselves and throwing pieces of crumpled paper down into the orchestra. Then came the showoff solo clarinetist who got exasperated sighs from the band members before the orchestra finally went full force into the piece. It was such an unforgettable experience.

After work on Friday I learned how to play sqaush at Goodlife. It took me a while to get the hang of the non-bouncy ball, but in no time, I was a killah! Chris and I walked over to Caf Cinquecento for Cass' farewell dinner before she headed off to HK. Afterwards I dragged Chris and Cass to walk me to Union to catch the GO bus before they would head off to the Drinks Show with the rest of the party. But the walk was so long that they didn't want to walk all the way to the CNE, so we decided to hang out at the Royal York's Epic restaurant for drinks and dessert. Cass and I both ordered virgin strawberry cocktails, and the three of us shared a cake dish with 3 tiny portions of cute miniature cakes. One was this brownie tower that oozed out fudge when you pierce it, another was a vanilla mousse on caramelized waffle, and the third was a hollow timbit-like sugared pastry with chocolate coated on the inside. They were all so delectable!

Last night I went to the TSO concert with Kris and her friend Jonathan to see Shakespeare in Love. After that I met up with Chris to go to May's birthday party at Up Lounge, which was a pretty fun time. The DJ played too much hip-hop and reggae though and not enough house. Bah! Woke up early this morning and went to the Canadian Opera Company's open house event. I went on a guided tour that took us onstage and backstage to see the rich people lounge, costume rooms and ballet studio. The ballet company is performing Sleeping Beauty in November and we got to see the costumes- they're 34 years old and they still look impecable (and the dress for Aurora was worn by Karen Kain when she performed in the production way back when). Pictures coming soon!

I went home in the afternoon to catch the Portugal vs Netherlands game. Is anyone as shocked as I was with the events that unfolded? You thought the Italy vs US game was bad, this game was nasty. One player injured twice, 2 fight break-outs, a head butt, 12 people booked, 4 red cards, and a captain that may very well have to deal with FIFA sanctions after the game. Oy. Hopefully Portugal still has enough in them to send England packing.

Posted by mich at 10:12 PM | return | dreams [0]

June 17, 2006

Series of Unfortunate Events

It's been a long week and I'm glad that it's over. It was packed with some fun activities, but sprinkled with suckiness.

Last Friday I went to the Mod Club with Kerry to see Tokyo Police Club perform with a bunch of other artists under the Paperbag Records label. They were great live and I loved all the energy they brought onto the stage. The next two bands were a waste of my time: Cities in Smoke were absolutely horrible and ear splitting, and Uncut was nothing remarkable. Magneta Lane finally came just before midnight and they totally rocked out. I'm not a big fan of their music except for one song, but they are one talented bunch of chicks. The final band was controller.controller - I love their songs but I was quite disappointed by their live performance the last time I saw them - but I didn't stay to watch because I felt like I was going to pass out from tiredness.

The next morning I went to the Goethe-Institut to watch the film 108 - Walking through Tokyo as part of the soundaXis festival. The sound collage by the soundscape artist was really nicely done as it seamlessly weaved the sounds of various places throughout Tokyo. The images, however, left me unsatisfied. Out of a huge collection of photographs that could have been selected, only a handful were chosen to match with the sounds, and many of those were repeated throughout the film. I was left either looking at the same photo for either minutes on end, or staring into darkness.

Sunday afternoon was my dragonboat/dodgeball team's BBQ party at Ashbridge's Bay. I wanted to bring my Lomo Smena 8m, but realized it was still not fully fixed when the lens popped off last year. So I took the whole thing apart and tried constructing it part by part. I had everything put back together except the very last thing to control the depth of field. I just cannot screw the lens back on without getting it stuck when I try to adjust the DOF- quite annoying. Grrrr. So I left home without it. I ended up playing volleyball all afternoon which gave my nasty purple spots on my forearms... ouch. That evening I went out for Viet food with Cass, Angela and a couple of their friends.

Monday night was our dodgeball team's first playoff game against the top ranked team. Even though our first game against them a few weeks back was sooo close, we were creamed this time around (and physically too). I was beamed in the eye with the ball while sitting on the bench, and one of my teammates was attacked by so many balls at once that he fell badly on a ball and broke his foot/ankle so I had to help drive his car back home. Later that night I went on Amazon.com to order the Rolleiflex MiniDigi. What should have been a 5 minute process turned into 45-minutes of pure aggravation when my wireless signal kept dying on me and I had to restart my order over and over. When I finally pushed the submit button, it was taking forever to process and finally I a message saying that the order didn't go through. OMG was I mad *huff* Then I went down to the basement to order on the other computer and shipped it to the states since they don't ship to Canada. Fine, done. On Wednesady I got a call from Saba saying she already received the camera. Yay. But that night when I checked my e-mail, I got 2 e-mails from Amazon saying I had ordered the same product twice, as well as 2 seperate invoices from the third party vendor for my 2 orders. WTH?! I was freaking out but I couldn't send e-mails or check my orders page on Amazon because my stupid wireless connect was going down again and would only come back up for a few seconds before dying again. In my fury I started banging my mouse - hard - before that died on me too. What can I say, I hate computers and computers hate me.

Thursday I had planned to go see the TSO performance with Ben Heppner, but the tickets were already sold out. According to Christina, it was fabulous. I'll just have wait until it's aired on CBC radio, bah.

Friday evening I went to the patio of Peter Pan for dinner with Chris, Christina, and Wen San before Kris and I headed over to the brand new Four Seasons Centre for a night of the opera. Although the building is pretty nice, as a piece of modern architecture that's supposed to house spectacular and extravagant performances I was pretty disappointed by the plainness of the space. It's one thing to be minimalist (and be able to make a bold statement), but quite another to be bland. Nonetheless, the actual show itself was amazing. I was completely blown away by Aline Kutan's breathtaking performance of Der Hlle Rache where it seemed like she hit the highest note on a piano. Seriously. The celebratory show ended at 9:20 so I tried to rush to Union to catch the 9:40 GO bus back to Richmond Hill. Unfortunately I missed it by 2 minutes. The ride would have been super quick :( And when I started walking to the TTC to catch the subway, I realized I had left my beloved water bottle at the opera house, noooooo. Man, double whammy.

Posted by mich at 12:54 PM | return | dreams [0]

June 9, 2006

Football Fever

The World Cup has finally started, woooo! Although my next week is completely booked solid, I'm leaving Tuesday free for the must-see game between my team Brazil and Croatia. Right now I'm watching the exciting encore game between Germany and Costa Rica. And for anyone who works downtown in the financial district, fans can head over to the BCE Place or Goethe-Institut to watch at noon :)

Also at the Goethe-Institut is the film Walking through Tokyo that I'm going to see tomorrow morning. Sounds really interesting! And especially after watching the finale of The Amazing Race where they went to Tokyo, I'm longing to go back again.

Posted by mich at 7:49 PM | return | dreams [0]

May 18, 2006

From the New World

Just came back from watching the Toronto Symphony Orchestra's performance called From the New World with Christina. It featured string pieces by Brahms, Joachim, and Dvorak. Although I wasn't familiar with most of the pieces, I was still impressed by all the intricate details coming together as a whole. It's truly remarkable to think how a composer can create a musical piece for *every single* instrument.

Before the symphony I had Indian dinner with Christian and Christina at Babur. Oh man, put those two together and you've got a recipe for giggles and hi-jinx and... making Michelle play victim, as usual. o_O

My latest time-wasting obsession is My Heritage. You basically upload a picture of yourself and they run a face recognition algorithm to match you with a bunch of celebrities that look like you. And yours truly's top matches were GUYS. WTH!! First of all... what's up with the dudes, and second, there were barely any Asians. Here are my top matches: Aki Hakala (some Finnish drummer?), a Bee Gee, the lead singer of Linkin Park, Larry King, Elton John, Eddie Murphy....?!?! Someone please tell me they're as baffled as I am!

Posted by mich at 11:52 PM | return | dreams [0]

May 17, 2006

Hardcore Dodgeballer

On Monday our dodgeball team had a 9:30pm game all the way over by Yorkdale Mall. We usually play at Bloor/Dufferin in a nice big gymnasium. This time however, our gym was about half the length of our normal one. Balls were crashing against the walls at a million miles per hour. Needless to say, I was quite scared when watching the other teams play before us. Since only 2 girls on our team showed up that night, both of us had to play every single game (at least 2 girls have to play a game). Couldn't even break for more than 5 minutes... boy, was I exhausted. >_< Now I have some scrapes and bruises on my knees to tend to, waaah.

Last night I went to the ROM for a lecture titled "In the Skin of a Building" that discusses the importance of a building's envelope to the overall design and how it supports the architecture's programme. They had representatives from 3 architectural firms taking about their designs for the ROM Crystal, U of T's Pharmacy Building, and U of T's Centre for Cellular and Biomolecular Research. It was a pretty enlightening presentation from the U of T building designers, but the lifeless ROM guys almost put me to sleep talking about construction building materials and showing pictures of freakin' steel rods and bolts being installed.

Hm, how was my weekend? Saturday night I went to Sam's birthday party at his condo, then headed downtown at 10:30 pm for Christian's friends' Jack & Jill party. I tried my hand at blackjack and won a bunch of hands, wooo! Much better luck here than in Las Vegas, haha. On Sunday I built my IKEA Malm Drawer all by myself!!! I also wielded a hammer without any supervision, yup yup! I'm so proud of myself! *beams* But I just realized last night as I was trying to fit in my top drawer that they gave me wrong screws for that one drawer and now it won't fit into the drawer opening. Now I have to go back to IKEA to get the proper ones from them. Oh well, now I can also pick up a Benno CD Tower and some more Lant chips (yum). That night for Mother's Day I took out my whole family for dinner at Restoran Malaysia, where we had an appetizer platter, golden chicken curry, roti, beef rendang, and pad thai. And O.M.G. my dad actually said the food was "okay la!"... no complaints, it's a miracle!

Posted by mich at 10:55 PM | return | dreams [0]

May 11, 2006

Lovin' My New Skirt

<-- Look how cute! I'm still in disbelief over how much I had splurged for this skirt, but all the compliments I've been getting for it kind of justify the purchase :P Now I need to find some cute matching shoes to go with it, perhaps these super comfy Lacoste ones. Hopefully Sandra can help me find cheaper ones over in HK! :D

I finally put my Home and Garden Cookbook to use and tried the Basil Chicken in Coconut-Curry Sauce last Saturday. I had put in too much curry powder and sugar rendering it too spicy, yet without too much flavour. I gave it another go this evening and it turned out a bit better; I added lots of salt to bring out flavour, but I was a bit short on the curry powder and coconut milk. Third time's a charm I guess? The previous evening I had Salad King's famous Golden Curry, and I must say, my own curry paled in comparison :( My mission now is to figure out the secret to making curry like Salad King.

This week I also went to see the Boygroove play/musical with Christian, Justine, and Janine. It was my second time seeing it, but it was still hilarious nonetheless with a few new bits added. Definitely recommended! *thumbs up*

Basil Chicken in Coconut-Curry Sauce

4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
2 teaspoons curry powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cracked black pepper
1/4 teaspoon chili powder
1 large red onion, chopped (1 cup)
5 cloves garlic, minced
2 fresh jalapeno peppers, seeded and finley chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 13 1/2- or 14-ounce can unsweetened coconut milk
a tablespoon cornstarch
3 tablesppons snipped fresh basil
1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
3 cups hot cooked rice

1. Cut chicken into 1-inch pieces. Place chicken in a medium bowl. In a small bowl stir together the curry powder, salt, black pepper, and chili powder. Sprinkle spice mixture over chicken, tossing to coat evenly. Cover and chill for 1 to 2 hours to allow spices to penetrate meat.

2. In a large nonstick wok or skillet cook and stir onion, garlic, and jalepeno peppers in hot oil over medium-high heat for 2 minutes. Remove onion mixture from wok. Add halk of the chicken to wok. Cook and stire for 3 ot 4 minutes or until chicken is no longer pink. Remove chicken from wok. (If necessary, add additional oil.) Cook remaining chicken as above; remove from wok.

4. Combine coconut milk and cornstarch. Carefully add to wok. Cook and stir until slightly thickened and bubbly. Return chicken and onion mixture to wok. Stir in basil and ginger. Cook and stir about 2 minutes more until heated through. Serve over hot rice.

Posted by mich at 10:29 PM | return | dreams [1]

April 30, 2006

I Climbed the CN Tower!

Yesterday was the CN Tower Climb for the WWF. I went downtown with Christina, Hershey, and Cathy at 7am. It was such a zoo down there with so many different lineups that we didn't get to start climbing until 9:15. My final time was 22:28... better than what I expected :) Although, I felt my lungs were going to burst afterwards. I ended up raising $150, so a big thanks to everyone who sponsored me!

After the climb I had lunch with Christian in Chinatown, then went to see the Frank Gehry: Art + Architecture exhibit at the AGO. It was a fabulous showcase of Gehry's latest projects: Walt Disney Concert Hall in LA, DZ Bank in Berlin, MIT's Stata Center (who wouldn't mind coding 24/7 in this playground of a site?!) in Cambridge, Millennium Park, in Chicago, and our own Art Gallery of Ontario. The large models of the exterior and interior designs are truly spectacular in their detailing and expression of Gehry's ideas (and reminded why I hated model construction so much because of the tediousness). There were also walls of Gehry's sketches that were just simple scribbles and lines but were so expressive and informative all at once. I even saw a huge photograph of Frank Gehry with my first-year architecture prof (also the dean of U of T's school of architecture), which was pretty neat. During our visit at the gallery though, I was really starting to feel the effects of the climb taking a toll: I was struggling to keep my eyes open during the videos and I developed quite a nasty headache. After the gallery Chris and I walked back along Queen Street W. and stopped at a vacant residential apartment just west of Ossington to check out an exhibition called Generated Habitats created by A Collection of Foreign Objects, a Canadian collective of artists that was founded in Japan. The idea of displaying their art responding to a residential environment is pretty interesting, but while I was doing a walkthrough of the space, I couldn't ignore the dinginess and dirtieness of the place (Christian apparently saw piles of rat poop all over the place).

When we finally returned to Christian's place I had to crash for 1.5 hours before heading out again for dinner. We chose a trendy Malaysian restaurant/lounge that was at the corner of Queen and Shaw. Since I wasn't that hungry we decided to split an appetizer platter of veggie puffs, tuna rolls, taro frites, and pork belly, plus a beef and shrimp rendang entre. For an appetizer that costs $20, you'd have expected something substantial, but there were only 2 or 3 things of each item. The rendang was delicious, but again the portion was so miniscule. I don't think I've ever paid so much for Asian food, omg. Especially after having tried Malaysian food at Restoran Malaysia, where the food is amazing and so cheap, I think I'll just stick with uptown restaurants for my Asian fix.

:::

I'll just do a small recap of other recent events of my past week... last Saturday I went to the David Duncan House for Cass and Vanessa's birthday dinner. The restaurant is in a gorgoues Victorian-styled mansion and they serve up some amazing steak. Normally I don't like steak unless it's cooked by my dad, but this place has me converted. If anyone goes, they need to try out the peppercorn steak (yummmmy). The tiramisu I ordered for dessert was a bit disappointing however since it was mostly cream and barely had any taste of expresso. I should have gotten Sam's "award winning" chocolate raspberry mousse cake- that was some amazing cake!

Yes, after all that eating, a girl's gotta work out. I joined a dodge ball league with Christian that plays every week. Last Monday was our very first game, and we kicked butt (12-2, baby)! It turns out that there's a guy from my OAC chem class who's on my team, but he thought my name was Michelle Kwan, haaaar. I also bumped into one of my old high school friends outside the gym, who turned out to be on another dodge ball team playing in the gym next door. Small world!

Posted by mich at 11:37 AM | return | dreams [0]

December 16, 2005

The End of My Mindblossom Ordeal

Ok, I'm a pretty patient person and it takes a lot to peeve me off. But I've never had to deal with such unprofessionalism in my life... it's unbelievable. So after over month since I worked at the company, I still didn't get paid. I had phoned the creative director about 3 weeks earlier and he told me to come in to pick up my cheque. I went into the office the next day and the guy told me that it wasn't signed yet and that the person who was supposed to sign had already left for the day. So the guy said he'd have it mailed to me. Ok fine... but what a waste of time.

A few days later I sent an e-mail asking about the status and when I should be expecting the cheque. No reply. Weeks passed, and surprise surprise, nothing came in the mail. Then last week I sent an e-mail to the head guy of the company who signs the cheques and no reply either. I phoned the creative director again this Monday and he started acting so fake, pretending to be surprised when I didn't get any e-mail response from the head guy (ummm excuse me, *you* didn't reply either). He then said he'd ask the other guy to sign that day and then he'd e-mail me to confirm everything. Morning passed into the afternoon and turned into night, and... nada. O.M.G. Now I'm pissed.

The next day I bombarded the creative director with phone calls starting at 10:30 am. "Cheque still not signed yet eh? And the guy's in a conference call now? You're going to phone me back in 30 min? Ok fine." No call in the morning, no call in the afternoon. This guy's getting too predictable. Tried calling him in the afternoon and got his voicemail. By 5pm on my way to drop him a visit I phoned once again. The phone picked up and I heard some fumbling and then a hang up. Phoned again and got his voicemail. What the hell!!

Up in the office I had to wait forever watching the creative director leaning back in his chair, feet up on the table, while chatting on his cell (to this day, I still don't know what his job function is). Finally, he comes out to greet me, tries to chat me up and takes me into the back to one of the offices where I see my cheque just sitting there on the table. I just didn't understand it; how hard is it to sign a piece of paper? And I told them in the morning that I'd just drop by to pick it up... they couldn't even have it all ready for me by the end of the day?!?! I had to wait a while longer for the guy to run and get it signed. Holy cow. I just wanted to get in and out. But FINALLY, I got paid. Now I never have to deal with those jerks ever again.

On a happier, more cheerful note, I went to see The Nutracker at the Hummingbird Center last Sunday. It was my first time at the ballet in well over 10 years since Vanessa did ballet, and it was quite delightful! The set designs were absolutely gorgeous, especially the transition into the fantasy world. The one dance that stood out the most for me was the Arabian Dance, which was so beautiful. It was unfortunate though that we had like the worst seats in the house high up in the bleachers, so we had a pretty poor view of everything. I wish I could have been up closer to actually be able to see the dancers and costumes in detail. Maybe next year.

[Edit November 23, 2008]

After receiving this comment and emails from other disgruntled folk, I decided to write a follow-up post regarding events that have happened since this posting.

Posted by mich at 1:55 AM | return | dreams [0]

November 6, 2005

The Power of Photography

This evening on CBC Newsworld I watched the documentary Born Into Brothels, about a filmmaker/photography who lives in Calcutta's red light district to document the lives of the women who live there. Instead, she stumbles across a whole population of children living in the area and introduces them to the camera and the art of photography, which brings hope and empowerment to their impoverished lives. The images the kids capture are absolutely stunning as they reveal the conditions in which they live from the whimsical perspectives of a child.

It's repeating this Saturday, Nov 12 on CBC Newsworld at 10pm. Watch the film.

Posted by mich at 11:30 PM | return | dreams [1]

September 15, 2005

Film Festival Frenzy

It's already past the halfway mark of the Toronto International Film Festival. It's been fun and exciting, and now I'm feeling utterly exhausted... my mom's been saying I look so "chan" the past few days, and now I'm finally sick :(

I started volunteering on Thursday evening at Roy Thompson for the festival opening gala of Deepa Mehta's film Water. I saw people bringing in the movie reel and it was massive- like the size of a round 2-person table. I was working in the lobby with a group of people without a rep telling what to do... we just basically stood and chatted, haha. That evening wasn't as busy as I had expected since it was a Canadian film, but I did get to see the 2 Canadian Idol finalists, Rex and Melissa (she's so gorgeous!). Unfortunately, none of the volunteers could watch the film that night since the opening and closing nights are invitation only.

Friday evening I worked on the balcony level during the galas for Mrs. Henderson Presents and L'Enfer. I saw Bob Hoskins on stage during the introduction of the first movie, which apparently turned out to be really hilarious. The volunteers don't get to watch the first movie since we have to be ready to direct everyone after it finishes, but we get to watch the second movie. I sat in to watch L'Enfer, which turned out to be really good. It was really different from typical American movies and had a unique narrative style.

Saturday afternoon I worked the mezzanine level for the gala of Dreamer: Inspired by a True Story. The shift turned out to be unbelievable short and we had the chance to stay and watch the movie. I'm really not a big fan of cheesy horse flicks or Dakota Fanning so I skipped it and went shopping instead :P

I didn't have to volunteer Sunday so I went to the Press & Industry screening of Three Times, a Taiwanese film following three stories of a couple in three different eras. The premise of the film sounded really great and it received amazing reviews, but I found it to be way too slow for my liking. After 30 min. into the movie, a whole bunch of people had already left, and near the end of the movie, the guy sitting next to me fell asleep and was snoring.

Monday evening was a star-studded night. It was the gala screening of North Country and Proof. I was working on the main floor so I had the opportunity to watch the speeches before the films. During the introduction of North Country I got to see Charlize Theron (who looked absolutely STUNNING and did a cute little curtsy!), Frances McDormand, Sean Bean, Woody Harrelson and Sissy Spacek, and for the introduction of Proof, Gwyneth Paltrow, Anthony Hopkins, Jake Gyllenhaal and Hope Davis came on stage. I got to sit in to watch Proof, which was a pretty good movie. It sort of followed the same lines as A Beautiful Mind (dealing with a crazy genius), but not as good. At the end of the movie, the theatre cast a spotlight on the pod where the cast was sitting and they bowed to everyone... I thought that was pretty nice closing to the movie.

Tuesday I got sick :( I think I completely exhausted myself over the past few days, and working in an AC'd theatre for so long wasn't too good for me. Wednesday I didn't have to volunteer either, so I caught a Press & Industry screening of Romance and Cigarettes, a quirky comedy with unexpected musical numbers popping up throughout the story. Later in the evening Chris and I watched a Spanish film called The Grnholm Method.

Tonight I'm back to volunteering but this time at the Jackman Hall Theatre at the AGO- a tiny venue, so it should be a lot different from working at Roy Thompson Hall. It should be fun, and now I'm off!

Posted by mich at 3:15 PM | return | dreams [1]

September 2, 2005

Random Post For The Day

I want a Lensbaby 2.0!

So I've been hired by Princess Cruises to work as a photographer. They originally assigned me to set sail from San Fracisco (!!) Oct. 21 but I wouldn't be able to leave until early November when my parents get back from their cruise... so now I'm waiting for a reassignment. When I first heard I was hired I was so happy but now that I've been thinking about how different everything will have to be for 6 months (that's a long time), it's going to be a tough adjustment. Lots of mixed feelings, sadness especially, but I feel so lucky to even have a chance at something like this that I know I would regret it if I didn't do it now. In the meantime, I'll be so super busy... I was just hired last week to create a website for a new council at U of T for integrating all the performance and visual arts across all three campuses, and at the same time, integrating U of T into the Toronto's cultural scene, sort of trying to follow Harbourfront Centre's program. Then there's also finishing up the flash site for the fashion designer, touching up some fashion shoot photos for people buying prints from me, doing some corporate designing, and volunteering for the Toronto International Film Festival and the McLuhan International Festival of the Future. The film fest starts next Thursday! I'm super excited! I'll be working at Roy Thompson this year for various gala nights... hello red carpet!

Posted by mich at 7:09 PM | return | dreams [0]

August 12, 2005

Aggravated & Banana'd

Aggravation round 2. The night after I last blogged I had 3 bad dreams that were pretty much attributed to my anxiety. They were all about actual plans and meetings I had lined up for the next couple of days. First, the fashion shoot I had scheduled went SO bad- I had forgotten my camera, all the models were running amok and by the time I got my camera it was broken. In my second dream, I totally forgot to meet with my art prof to do some printing and instead went out to dinner with my friends. During dinner I realized that I was going to miss the Blue Man Group show that I was scheduled to go to with Christian. Then in my last dream, I was to meet with one of the makeup artists I worked with to give her my prints. I was running around forever trying to find her... and when I finally did, I realized that I had forgot to bring the prints with me >.<

Aggravation round 3. I had scheduled to meet my art prof on Wed @ 5pm after her class so I could do my printing. I got to the computer lab at 5 on the dot but it was locked. I went to her office, but she just left a sign on her door saying she was in the lab. I went to the lab and no one came to open it. Tick tock. Tick tock. I was siting there waiting and waiting, sweating in the non air-conditioned haunted building. After 30 min of waiting I was extremely annoyed. Christian can probably attest to that since I was practically yelling on the phone complaining to him :P It turns out that the prof's class went WAY overtime and she came out at 6pm. Apparently, she had left the printer out for me, but had locked the door. And she forgot to leave me the paper anyway. Sheesh. So I spent a little over an hour in the lab trying to get all my stuff done then rushed to meet Christian to make it for the Blue Man Group show at 8pm. We were in such a hurry that all we had for dinner was chinese bakery buns >.< On a bright note, the show was great! We had front row seats... unfortunately, we got mashed bananas spewed all over us. Out of everyone, Christian got the worst of it since we were sitting directly in front of the bananas *yeeeeuck*! At the end of the show, streams of paper came rolling down the audience from the back to the front. The end result was a massive pile in the front row and us being buried over our heads in streamers.

Aggravation round 4. Woke up yesterday with massive knee pains... I could barely even walk. I haven't had knee pains in a while and I didn't really do anything to aggravate them. So for all my pain I blame everyone that streesed me out. I had the fashion shoot in the morning to early afternoon, and it turned out pretty well. I had a lot of fun working with the model, but I just wish I had more time to photograph and work with more ideas that I had. I would have liked to work more with less styles but I also had to please the designer with shots of more designs in more boring, "catalog" poses, if you will. The makeup artist was really good and she came up with some great hairstyles, but she just ate up way too much time. The shoot went overtime by an hour and a half but the model was so great about it. The only problem was after the shoot I had to rush to drop the car off at my dad's office and try to make it downtown to meet a makeup artist to give her my print. I ended up rescheduling the meeting for 30 min later, and it was all good. I even remembered to bring the print with me :)

Posted by mich at 1:59 PM | return | dreams [0]

July 18, 2005

Buzz Buzz I Wunder Why She Duzz?

Time for another batch blog!

Wednesday I went down to Roy Thompson Hall with Cass and Kim to sign up for shifts for the Toronto Film Festival. This year, instead of working at the Isabel Bader Theatre, I'll be at Roy Thompson (for the opening gala!) and the AGO. I'm looking forward to it... I had so much fun last year :) Later in the evening Christian and I had a summerlicious dinner at Canoe that consisted of Citrus Cured Mahone Bay Scallops Sweet Shrimp, Honey Mushrooms, Tarragon & Truffle Oil for the appetizer, Roasted Tenderloin of Pork Parsnip, Granny Smith & Maple Black Pepper Jus for the entre, and Wild Blueberry Cheesecake that was to die for. Mmmmmmm.

On Friday afternoon I went to see a Fringe Festival play called Boygroove with Vanessa. It's part play, part musical that basically spoofs the whole idea of boy bands. It was soooo hilarious: the music, the characters and the storyline! While waiting in line for tickets, I bumped into Jen who was volunteering at the festival and gave her a spot in the line (shhh!).

In the evening Christian and I biked to the Distillery District for the PartiGras that kicks off the annual Toronto Beaches Jazz Festival. It was my first time in the area and I really liked the quaint atmosphere, which was nicely complemented by all the great jazz performances. I got home a lot later than I had wanted. I was so tired and I had to wake up at 7am the next morning for my second fashion shoot, but I wanted to discharge my camera batteries in order to have a fully charged battery to use. I should have just left it as it was because there was enough juice in it to last me the day- I was just really unsure how long it would last because the first 2 charges didn't give me a lot of battery life. By 1:30 am I was so ready to hit the sack and I was uploading and re-uploading pictures onto my computer to use up the batteries, but it didn't seem like it was doing much good. So for the next TWO hours I sat there shooting off my camera with the flash. Click. Click. Click. I was absolutely dying from tiredness but I had to keep going... and finally it was done!

Unfortunately, I ended up sleeping in until 8am the next morning when I had to actually be downtown at 8:30 :O Whoooops. Made a mad dash out the door and when I arrived at the studio, I found out I was switched to another team, where my partner had arrived as late as I (at 9am), and we were frantically trying to put our sets together in time for the shoot. However, it turned out that our model still hadn't arrived yet and we had no idea when she was going to be in. So we ended up shooting one of the model's sister, who was just there to watch everything. We actually had a pretty good shoot with her and I finished off a 1 GB card (and even had to delete some bad pics to shoot some more). Before lunchtime while my partner was shooting I went to Future Shop nearby to buy another memory card, but they were out since it was on sale for a really good price. I had no idea where else to get a cheap memory card, so I ended up TTC'ing all the way back up to North York Center to meet with my parents who would help me buy one at the Future Shop there. And thennnn, TTC back down to Ryerson to immediately start setting up my set for the next model (I had completely missed lunch). The next model was really pretty but she needed a lot of direction ("raise your right arm- no that's your left arm!"); it got to the point where I had to go in and move her body parts. Overall though, I had a lot more fun during this shoot than last week's. I felt a lot more comfortable, and I actually got to shoot for more than 30 min! I'm in the process of reviewing all the shots for my critique tomorrow, so I'll post them up when I get them all together :)

Posted by mich at 4:53 PM | return | dreams [1]

May 31, 2005

Doors Open Toronto

It was the Doors Open Toronto event this past weekend, so I decided to go exploring yesterday. Christian and I set out on our bikes at 11:15 and headed out west to the Gladstone Hotel, where they were also hosting a Contact 2005 exhibit entitled "Wallpaper". The space is in the process of being renovated and the rooms are each designed by a different artist, which will be unveiled in an open house "Sneak Peak" Preview event June 17-19. We got to see one that had flower patterns carved into the drywall.

Next we stopped by a small gallery beside the Museum of Comtemporary Canadian Art along Queen St., then headed to Chinatown for a lunch of congee with the consistency of glue. Luckily the downpour of rain happened while we were chowing down inside.

Afterwards we rode through U of T campus up to Yonge and Bloor to visit the Moriyama & Teshima architectural design firm. The style was very Japanese- the place used to be a service station and now the grease pit has turned into a serene pond. We then biked down to the financial district to see the Toronto-Dominion center (we just missed the last 54th floor tour), the Canada Permanent Building, and Old City Hall, where we had just missed the last courtroom tour :'( The Doors Open event ended at 4pm so by that time we hung out at Nathan Phillips Square enjoying the sunny warm weather that had arrived. And just by coincidence we ran into Gin, Faiz, Mike, Cass and Monz, who were were planning to meet up with later anyway for golfing. So while those guys drove to The Docks, Chris and I biked all the way there. I went on the driving range for the first time, and I sucked! My furthest shot went less than 100 ft >_< Then it was time for some real fun: mini-golf!! I won... *takes a bow* :P At 8pm I biked with Chris back to Chinatown and met up with the other guys at a Chinese restaurant for dinner. And so ended my day of adventure, exertion, and exhaustion!

Posted by mich at 1:12 AM | return | dreams [0]

February 5, 2005

My New Camera of Choice

Would anyone like to donate to the "Help Michelle buy a Hasselblad 500-Series Camera"? The goal is $6000 US... much appreciated!

I learned how to use one of these babies today in photography class and I instantly fell in love with them. The viewfinder shows the image with layered depth, the shutter sound is so rich, the camera body looks so classy AND the lens are Carl Zeiss. *heart flutters* I guess I'll just have to settle for playing around with Vanessa's Holga medium format for now!

This evening I watched Wintercity's closing ceremony show, Malaya at Nathan Phillips Square. It was simply amazing. There were a few instances where I nearly got ran over by a wheeling cart or stilted characters but it was such a unique experience that integrated the audience into the performance. The show lasted an entire hour but unfortunately I ran out of film halfway through. I was trying to save my last frame for an amazing shot, but there were just too many gorgeous visuals to capture! :(

It's playing again Sat and Sun night @ 7pm so go see it peoples!!

Posted by mich at 1:06 AM | return | dreams [0]

November 5, 2004

Anti-Structure and Ambivalence

Here's my collage for our second fragments assignment. The final piece deviates from what I had originally envisioned. Actually, the picture I have hear is only half of the piece. When I install it tomorrow the yarn from the canvas will continue down to the ground to produce a soft blue mass... near the bottom there's also a bird's nest. What's it all mean? It's up to you to interpret :P

Posted by mich at 1:35 AM | return | dreams [0]

September 17, 2004

The Beginning of the End

So ends my first week of my final year in school. I had my first assignment of the year due today in my collage courses where we had to create a sound collage. I stayed up until 4:30 am working on it and had to wake up at 8am so I was quite the zombie today during school. It was a pretty hectic week for me. I haven't gotten any rest since I got back from my trip. The night I got back I went to bed at 3am. The next 2 days I volunteered at the Toronto Film Festival. Sunday night was the opening of Kevin Bacon's movie, The Woodsman, at the theatre I was working at. I actually got to see Kevin Bacon, Cuba Gooding Jr. and Joseph Gordon-Levitt! :O On Monday I had class at noon, then volunteered in the afternoon until 11:30 pm. That night was the opening of Joseph Gordon-Levitt's movie, Mysterious Skin. I didn't get to see him, but I did see Michelle Trachtenberg instead. Oooh the excitement! My Monday shift was pretty cool overall- I met a girl studying architecture at Ryerson and during our hour break, I gave her an architectural tour of the U of T campus. I also got to work in the auditorium for one move and sit in during the screening of Cinvardaphoto, which sounded really interesting, but turned out to be quite boring. Plus the fact that I was standing for a big chunk of the movie didn't make it any better. Wednesday I caught the industry screening of Whisky w/ Chris. It was a good film... a bit on the slow side. Yesterday we caught an amazing film called Millions, which was very much in the style of Big Fish and Amlie- colourful and fantastical. Tomorrow is my last volunteer shift. Must sleep, zzz.

Posted by mich at 12:23 AM | return | dreams [0]