Last week’s Popcorn Panel was about the pretty atrocious Larry Crowne, and this list is going to be short:

-I loved that Larry’s neighbours have a permanent yard sale going on.

That’s it.

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Awhile back, after a conversation with my friend Daniel about The Mirror Has Two Faces wherein we discussed the challenges of growing up as a Jewish girl in North America with only brassy Jewish women in pop culture to look up to, I compiled a list of the Jewish women (both real and fictional) who made me feel good about being a Jewish woman, or would have if I’d known about them when I was 14.

Now that I’m finally up on Community (thanks to a 14-hour plane ride back in the spring), I can add Alison Brie’s Annie to this list. Annie is smart and sweet and hardworking and a great debater and possibly the most adorable person on television. Her Jewishness is incidental (“Just say the whole word!”), but that doesn’t matter. If she’d existed 15 years ago, she might have single-handedly undone all the damage done by Barbra, Bette, and Woody Allen movies.

I was working at CBC last week, and I parked my bike next to these creepy little guys every morning. These sculptures have always reminded me of one of the most terrifying movie scenes ever made, when the lost boys in Pinnochio are turned into donkeys. Maybe it’s intentional and it’s meant to keep children in line on their way to the baseball game (the CBC building is right across from the Skydome). Or maybe the artist has a thing about donkeys. In any case, I should be commended for bravery for facing this freaky nonsense every morning.

Toronto Fringe Festival time. A time for weird, goofy, fun, surprising, sometimes awful theatre. And lots of alcohol. And hopefully one great train wreck.

I wrote that Fringe preview, and now I can also vouch for Love Octogon (great inventive long-form improv based on the audience’s stories about love and heartbreak) and Raton Laveur (darkly funny play about a man’s raccoon problem).

Go see a play!

Outside of the cyclist-friendly Sam James Coffee House. If only every Toronto business displayed such a sign.

On this long-planned day of no plans whatsoever, I have been obsessively poring through the Photojojo archives despite (a) not being a particularly great photographer and (b) owning neither a DSLR or Photoshop. But none of that mattered when I came across this post about this artist who set a digital camera to its long exposure setting, set it up on a tripod, and aimed it at his laptop screen while flipping through a Facebook album.

So I messed around with that for a bit using a Facebook photo album of photos I took in Hay-on-Wye and ended up with this nifty image of the inside of Murder and Mayhem (the town’s crime/mystery bookstore) superimposed on the outside of Murder and Mayhem.

I also vacuumed and dusted the whole living room and made a serious dent in Country Driving by Peter Hessler today. Not bad for a Saturday whose only plans involved an afternoon trip to the pub.

Sargasso by Phillip Beesley

Luminato ended last weekend, so you can’t go see Brookfield Place transformed into the Snow Queen’s dancehall anymore. This building (which will always be the BCE Place to me) is my favourite in the whole city, and I love when it gets used for massive public art installations like this one.

Advice to new cyclists

June 24, 2011

Pretend that getting on your bicycle turns you into a two-wheeled centaur.

It has come to my attention from several sources that, in my 3+ years of coordinating the National Post’s Popcorn Panel (and therefore seeing a lot more , I have become a cynical curmudgeon who hates everything. My initial response to this, naturally, was that I wouldn’t hate everything if everything churned out by Hollywood wasn’t so crappy. But then I read over a few old Popcorn Panels and realized that yeah, I’m a bit of a crank. (Of course, it’s only because I idealistically try to demand that the level of general discourse and entertainment be raised, but whatever.) So I’m going to make a concerted effort to look for the good in even the emptiest of blockbusters that I have to watch.

Let’s start with this week’s movie, Green Lantern:

– Ryan Reynolds is very handsome. So is Mark Strong, even as a CGI-ed purple alien dude – those eyebrows!
– The look of joy on Reynolds’ face when the fish-head guy first shows him how to fly is delightful. I just love any flying sequence.
– That nasty chartreuse of fear is really very ugly and probably legitimately evil.
– I liked how the Guardians looked like they’d wandered over from the set of Labyrinth.
– The moral is something about Hal Jordan’s humanity being his greatest asset, even though humans are younger and weaker than all the other crazy alien Lanterns, which is nice.

THAT’S IT.

In the quaint Chinese town of Dali, our cellphones were starting to run out of juice and we needed a reliable way to wake up in time to catch a bus to Lijiang the next morning. Fortunately, we were in China, where things like tiny alarm clocks are made. Unfortunately, neither of us speak a word of Mandarin, not even “thank you”, which seemed to be pronounced differently in every town we visited. But on one of the main shopping strips of Dali, a clever man was selling tiny clocks. Trying to minimize our fairly obvious ignorant touristdom, we timidly approached the shop, pointed to a clock, and said “alarm clock?” The clever clock salesman rolled his eyes at us, picked up a clock and said “di-di-dit! di-di-dit!” Our eyes lit up with recognition and delight at the obvious universal phrase for alarm clock. And now we treasure our little pink di-di-dit.