Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Recent Reads: Great Angel Jury



It was okay, I guess.  Ferguson made some great points and I agreed with some of what he had to say.  I particularly liked his discussion of community involvement.  But... there were a number of points I disagreed with.  Overall, I guess it made me think, so that's good, but overall, I was a bit disappointed.



Hmmm... now, let's see... I read this in 2015 - about six decades after it was first published.  Had I read it way back when, I'm sure I'd have enjoyed it more.  The depictions of women, the interactions between Hammer and women, the dialogue, etc. all really grated on me.  I liked the plot and the pace, and Hammer is the ultimate Hard-boiled PI, but still, it was hard to take at times... And I figured out whodunit before I got to the end.  


This was a good read - and different from my usual tastes in crime/mystery fiction.  The plot was terrific, with lots of twists and turns.  The settings and description - the research that must have gone into this!!! - were great, very detailed.  I could see the places, and I could feel the tensions the characters experienced.    Recommended.  


Monday, December 22, 2014

Glass Blowing!!!

On Saturday, I tried glass blowing for the first time ever.  It was a bit of a challenge, but I really enjoyed doing it.  The workshop was at Harbourfront Centre in Toronto, and I was working with instructor Anne.  She's been doing glass works for many years, and she is now in her third year as a resident artist at the Centre.  


The hot, fiery furnace looking thing above is actually called a Glory Hole.  Yes, really. 
The process begins with a scoop of molten glass (from the boxy looking furnace in the right hand side of the photo).  The glass is stuck on the end of the metal rod.  


The temperature of the Glory Hole is about 2250 degrees Fahrenheit.  Holy shit that's hot!  So, you stick the rod into the Glory Hole and keep rotating it to get some shape.


Then, you dip the mushy lump of molten glass into trays with bits of coloured glass.  You then stick it back in the heat so that the added colour melts in.  The process is repeated a couple of times (as more colours are added). 

  


Then, Anne used tongs to shape the top a bit and to smooth out any stray pieceds around the neck (of the metal rod).  



Then it was time to blow, blow, blow.  The harder you blow, the bigger (and thinner) the ornament becomes.  Throughout the process, the rod must continually spin, or the glass will droop and sag (and your sphere will become a deformed oblong or some other odd shape). 



Because the glass is so darn hot, it needs a day or so to cool down, so I picked it up today (Monday).  


Voila!  

My three ornaments!  The small, turquoise one was a deliberate SNAFU - I just wanted to see how it would look without being forced into shape.  Kinda cool...






Ed and Aurora - two other instructors/resident artists - stood at the ready to add the stem (so the ornament can be hung on a Xmas tree).  It's juts done with more molten glass and a pair of pliers to twist it into shape.  



Thursday, December 18, 2014

Pate de Verre



After burying myself in school for the last several weeks, I finally got busy doing something new and different, and very cool: Pate de Verre.  I had no idea what this was all about when I stumbled upon the website for Nanopod Studio and saw their list of upcoming workshops.  

But since it wasn't terribly expensive and was just an afternoon, I figured: What the heck - might as well give it a try...  

The instructor was Tosca Teran y Hidalgo, and she was amazingly patient.  I think I asked her 627 questions (many of which were duplicates!)   

The inside of the mold is "painted" before you do anything else.  The paint is not what you'd expect.  It's very finely-powdered, coloured glass to which you add some kind of magic solution to bind it enough so that it will hold in place.  Once you have the outer (or bottom) layer painted, then you fill the mold with little bits of ground glass - the pieces are so small and so fine that they looks like grains of sugar.  







Next, the masterpiece is kilned for several hours.  The temperature of the kiln is fairly low (comparatively speaking), which is why the glass granules retails their shape, as opposed to melting together. 

Here's a short YouTube video that gives a brief explanation of what Pate de Verre is and how it's done.  


*  *  * 

So, I did the first part (above) on Dec. 13, and went back tonight to pick up my finished piece.  Very cool! 

I had to use a little chisel  and a pick (it looked like a medieval dental instrument!) to gently smash away the plaster cast.  I literally broke the mold.  Anyhow, the pics tell the story and you can see my colourful skull end result.  

Did I mention that this activity was very cool?!  I had a lot of fun doing this and look forward to doing it again some day.








The five photos above were taken by Tosca Teran - the artist-instructor who owns Nanopod Studio.  Tosca is awesome - and very patient!  Her studio is filled with all sorts of her creations: jewellery, metal works, glass works, a wild pair of shoes and a very funky pink felt headpiece/wig! I can't wait to return and discover some new creations.  

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

I'm in good company!



It was a pleasant surprise to see Blood and Groom listed in this "tour" of Toronto mystery novels, especially since the book came out just over five years ago!   And I have to say, I'm in great company.  I've read just about all the other authors mentioned on this page (which is from the January 2015 issue of Toronto Life Magazine, on page 97).  Pretty cool that Blood and Groom is listed as one of the "ten grisliest" whodunits!  Since it was PI Sasha Jackson's first case, I'm sure she would agree.


Saturday, November 1, 2014

Netflix: Misc. Documentaries 7




Very good!  Of course, in my case, they were speaking to the choir.  Lawrence and Richard put forward a pretty solid, very coherent argument.  


Kind of neat, but not exactly Earth-shattering.  Fun to see a face and say "Ooooh!!  Him!!!  I didn't know he played that character..."  


As as fan of improvisation, this was a treat.  Again, not exactly Earth-shattering, but interesting.


Monday, October 27, 2014

Recent Reads: Loss Great Crush



Hated this one!  Just awful, solipsistic, not the least bit funny, self-indulgent... an utter waste of time.



OMG!!!  I had forgotten how beautifully written this book is!  Not a single throwaway sentence, every single word belonged on the page!  And the story - wow!  I had forgotten so many details in the 30 years since I last read it.  Wow - jaw dropping!




I love the idea of Dorsey's books - his tone and humour grab me, but as I've said before: He carries on the joke just a wee bit too long.  




Friday, October 24, 2014

Netflix: Misc. Documentaries 6

Loved it!  I already knew the gist of the story, but I knew little about the band and its growth/changes over the years.  I did see them in concert a couple of years ago (with Arnel singing) and it was fantastic.  I've long been a fan, so of course I thoroughly enjoyed this!


Great idea, poorly executed.  It would have made a huge difference if he'd taken it on more as an exploration in investigative journalism and added analysis of sorts to it.  I wish he'd explored the ad world writ large, maybe peeked at effects of advertising, growth of consumerism, etc.  As it was, the movie felt like it had no point.  Too bad.


Interesting albeit not exactly gripping.  Cool to learn a bit about the biz and the folks behind the scenes.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Oh no... Netflix series #3



Eye candy... delicious eye candy (and by that I mean the clothes in general, but Auggie shirtless in particular).  There's something very slick about this show.  And Eyal is pretty hot too.  Love all the locations (and the Toronto bits!)  Did I mention Auggie shirtless?  


I like the supporting cast/minor storylines much more than I like the lead actor/main storyline.  I'll check out future episodes just to see what happens to the Christian chick and her hubby.  Clayne Crawford, Abigail Spencer and Adelaide Clemens are the strongest characters in the series IMHO.  


This series really just tries too hard.  It's okay if there's nothing else on, but...  Stilted dialogue, plots have to many holes.  Can be fun at times, but overall it's meh.



Love it love it love it!  Terrific cast, terrific characters!  Powered though one season after the other.  Again, it's a lot of eye candy (whether that means the men or the fashions is irrelevant).  


Very disappointing.  Loved Simon Baker in The Mentalist.  Here he seems petulant and one dimensional... almost vapid.  Supporting cast is mostly good, especially Alan Rosenberg, but Dabney Coleman's character is irksome - cold and soulless.  Weak scripts in terms of both dialogue and plot.



Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Oh oh... Netflix: Series #2


Lovedlovedloved season 1!!!  Liked season 2.  I wish I could to slap Piper.  I want to see more of Alex.  The last scene of the season 2 finale was terrific!


I haven't seen the American version and don't want to.  This Australian show has some of the best script-writing in television!  Cleaver is by far one of the best TV characters ever imagined.  


Eye candy (Jim Longworth).  A fun diversion.  Wish it hadn't been cancelled at the end of season four - theyrleft viewers on a cliff!  Who shot Jim???  And what about the wedding???


Boy, can Kevin Spacy ever play a cold, heartless, calculating son of a bitch!  And Robin Wright as his wife - bee-yotch!!!  Eagerly awaiting the next season.


Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Recent Reads: Stinking Woman Collapse


A terrific debut novel!  A collection of lovable - and not so lovable - losers, an angry dog, a whack of pot and a stash of cash combine to make this a hilarious backwoods joyride.  The dialogue is spot on, and the characters remind me of the guys my Dad forbid me to date.  I look forward to Brunet's next book.  


Without a doubt, one of the most beautifully written, most evocative books I have ever read (despite the horrific subject matter).  The author's voice is just incredible!


Hmmm... How to make a topic like this sexy?  Answer is that you can't, really.  Reading it felt like I was sitting in a 3rd year economics lecture - which isn't necessarily a bad thing.  It's dry, yes, but still worth reading. Very informative, very detailed, very thorough, and I like books that make me think, that teach me something.  

Friday, September 12, 2014

Oh oh... Netflix: Series #1

I said "oh oh" in the title of this post because I know I have no discipline & if I get hooked on a series, then I'll be glued to the television until I've binged on the whole thing!  These are a few of the TV series that I've watched and enjoyed recently - they all kept me up way past my bedtime!



I marathoned this in April/May after hearing so many people talk about it (I had never seen a single episode).  Loved it, although it was disturbing as hell.  Loved the Jesse character, Hank was great, hate the two wives, and as for Walter... what is there to say?  Gotta admit, though, that on occasion, I found parts of the plot hard to swallow - characters and script didn't always seem to jibe.  Nevertheless, addictive!  And Saul rocked!  I eagerly await his spin-off series!


Rather weak scripts, lots of holes and implausibilities in the plots, and the dialogue is trite at times, but WHO CARES???  It's fun to watch just for the eye candy and fashions!  And I love the fact it's filmed in Toronto - always fun to spot places/things I recognize as parts of YYZ.  Can't wait for the next season.



I hated the Rose Byrne character - vapid, shallow, weak, selfish and a whole lot of other things, but it didn't matter; this was Glenn Close's baby!  Wow, can she do evil!  Cold, manipulative, soul-destroying evil!  Glenn Close was just terrific in this.  I also liked the story arcs ("cases") that ran through the seasons: Ted Danson and John Goodman were wonderful, and were the storylines.  Worth watching.



Without question, the best TV drama series I have ever watched, hands down!!!  The character development is incredible, the storylines within each season but though the series overall were terrific.  It was almost visceral watching this and even a little bit emotionally draining in a way (I say that as a positive thing).  I can't imagine anything else drawing me in as deeply as this did. Wow, just wow!  I'll give it a while, but I know I will most likely re-watch the whole series.  Lem! Shane!  Vic!  Ronnie!  And let's not forget Aceveda and Kavanagh. A five star, two thumbs up series!