I got caffeinated in an unusual way a few weeks ago, and wrote about it this weekend in the Post. Te Aro is one of the best of the many excellent coffee shops in my neighbourhood, and they will teach you how to taste coffee properly.

To be honest, I don’t have the most sophisticated palate, at least not coffee-wise. I’m a colossal food snob, but I wasn’t actually very good at identifying the specific flavour notes in the different coffees. I can appreciate good coffee, but I’m just as happy with a Tim Horton’s double double as anything else. Still, it was fun to concentrate really hard on slurping coffee for one morning, and I learned a few things about beans.

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High and Low

May 13, 2010

It’s 80s week! Well, it was 80s Monday and Tuesday, anyway. My boyfriend interviewed the guitar player of a-ha for the Post, and scored tickets to their show at Massey Hall on Monday night. So we went, expecting a fun, cheesy time, bracing ourselves because we only know a few songs. Well, J. knows a few songs – he lived in Europe for a year in the 80s when a-ha was massive over there. My main experience of a-ha is typically North American: I just love Take on Me. When I was in Australia for six weeks in 2006, I heard Take On Me everywhere I went. At least once a day, sometimes more. (And then, obviously, this video is hilarious.)

So imagine my surprise when a-ha at Massey Hall TOTALLY BLEW MY MIND. They’re excellent performers, and so much fun to watch (and dreamy, frankly). They have magical Norweigen powers and turned everyone in Massey Hall into a shrieking teenybopper. (I’m surprised people didn’t throw panties!) Their music – even the songs I didn’t recognize – was fantastic, and sounded huge, and the visuals were awesome.

Ain't no pop music like lizard pop music.

Yes. a-ha. Most underappreciated band of all time.

Tuesday night, unfortunately, wasn’t nearly so joyous. Rock of Ages was the opposite of joy. Glenn Sumi gets it right in NOW. It just made me sad, really – the show was so clearly written by people who have nothing but contempt for theatre. The whole thing feels like a big fuck you to theatre lovers. Also, rock music. And humanity in general. I feel like a cranky old snob when I complain about shows like this, and maybe I am. But it wasn’t fun. It wasn’t even particularly funny. It was aggressively stupid, with lazy storytelling, and annoying mashups of songs that used to be great. But I’m not going to win this round. Everyone in the theatre was laughing their asses off at the lamest jokes, and shrieking with delighted recognition at the opening riffs of their favourite songs. There’s no point in listing off the problems with the idiotic book – we’d be here all day, and the writers and fans would just throw off my criticisms with a “who cares, we know it’s dumb” anyway.

The one good part is the performances – Elicia Mackenzie has a great voice, and totally proves that she won’t be typecast as Maria. So that’s nice. And everyone else does their job well and looks like they’re having a good time. So that’s nice too. I just wish things like this didn’t happen to theatre.

So I wussed out on the Popcorn Panel this week. The last time I watched a movie from the Nightmare on Elm Street canon, I was 10 and at a sleepover at SJ’s house. (Remember SJ? She was a great influence in all sorts of ways.) Actually, “watched” is not the right word. “Hid behind the couch with my Les Miserables tape in my Walkman and a Babysitter’s Club book” is a more accurate description, and after the movie, the other girls at the sleepover jumped around shrieking “Don’t look at me”, and I assumed I was just missing some creepy reference. I was able to sleep that night, though I still don’t understand the reference.)

And while there is plenty to be said for facing your fears, I feel that truism applies only to certain fears, and there are some fears that aren’t worth facing. For example, you shouldn’t face a fear of sharks by jumping into a shark tank in a bikini. That’s just stupid. Likewise, why subject myself to something unpleasant without purpose? I know some people find horror movies fun, but I’ve never found them fun. Only mildly-to-extremely traumatic, without any kind of pay-off for the trauma. (I feel the same way about Todd Solondz films.)

In any case, I was able to round up an excellent panel of fellas who do find scary movies fun, and they have a bunch of interesting things to say about Nightmare on Elm Street.

Frankenstory

May 6, 2010

Last week I interviewed Catalyst Theatre‘s Jonathan Christenson for this story for The Star about Catalyst’s production of Frankenstein, which opens tonight at CanStage. I haven’t seen the show yet, but it sounds pretty cool, even if Franky won’t be dressing up in a tux and lurching his way through Puttin’ On The Ritz

In entirely unrelated news, last weekend a pigeon laid an egg in the eavestrough outside my kitchen window.

I was very torn because, on the one hand, pigeons are disgusting rats with wings and it is a constant battle to keep them off my damn deck already, seriously pigeons, SCRAM! But on the other hand, look how cute that little egg is. Unfortunately, the egg is gone now, and with no evidence of it having hatched. I think a squirrel must have snagged it.

Last week in class we went for a walk and talked about our feelings. After we made collages that represented what type of learners we are.

It was that kind of a class.

Nagging

May 2, 2010

On Friday night I attended my favourite theatrical event of the year, the Nags Community Players annual variety show, which has featured my effervescent mother for the past three years.

A couple of years ago, I wrote about my love of community theatre for what was then the Praxis Theatre blog. The joy and delight I wrote about for Praxis (plus a healthy dose of pure weirdness) is epitomized by the Nags. (I can vouch for this personally because I’ve seen it up close: when I was living with my parents, the Nags used to rehearse in our kitchen.) Seriously, watching their annual variety show is like watching the Muppet Show, only live, and with people instead of Muppets. And this year the theme is the 1950s, which means there’s an Elvis impersonator!

It’s at the Tranzac and they have two more shows on Friday and Saturday nights. I guarantee it is the only place in Toronto that you will see a spoof of the obscure British kids’ tv show Bill and Ben the Flower Pot Men. I love anything that involves a character whose only available speech is the ability to say the name of what they are. That’s probably why I loved WALL-E so much.