Sunday, September 30, 2007

Quote of the Day

"I have a slight inferiority complex."

Sean Connery as James Bond, in reply to being asked why he carries a gun, in Goldfinger (1964)

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Top Ten Reasons I'm Glad We Evolved

10. Having the ability to laugh.
9. Braised lamb shanks on a pile of mashed potatoes. Try cooking that without opposable thumbs.
9. All five senses in good working order (feeling very grateful today).
8. No longer having to live in swampy puddles of water with a bunch of other blobs of primal sludge like me, swimming around in our own poop.
7. One word: music
6. Okay, okay, I'll admit it: Pointing at amoeba and laughing at them.
5. Take the oil between your hands and warm it. Oops, sorry, wrong list.
4. Shakespeare
3. Playing both in AND out of water.
2. Arguing with creationists about just how we came about.
1. If we were just primitive life forms, we wouldn't have the differences in each other to enjoy. And if everyone were the same, who could fall in love?

Morning Musings (Pre-Breakfast... so I can't be held Accountable)

I'm wondering if it's enough to live by a great lake that I wouldn't swim in... or if one day soon I will live by the ocean. In the summer up north at a cottage, after a bout of swimming, I like to lay half in and half out of the water... my upper half, facing down, on a large smooth boulder lining the shore, my lower half bobbing in the lake. I can lay like this for hours, like a primal bit of sludge trying to decide whether to evolve or not.

A difficult choice for a Libra to make: Evolution apparently means growing two legs to carry you to work, and dextrous fingers to type... and before you know it, Ms Amoeba is working long days for the privilege of earning enough money to live so she can.... go on working.

On the other hand (a favourite Libra expression, not that I believe in these things, but - dagnabit - I sure do sound like a classic Libra most of the time)... on the other hand, not evolving means no Shakespeare sonnets, no spice trade, no - gulp - chocolate, no Guinness, no film industry, no literature... okay, okay, OKAY!!! I'll evolve! Chuh.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Quote of the Day

Jamie: "Thank you for missing me."

Nina: "I have. I do."

Alan Rickman as Jamie (returned to his lover as a ghost to help her deal with her grief over his death) and Juliet Stevenson as Nina in Truly, Madly, Deeply (1990).

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Quote of the Day

"I say Rosemary, if you weren't a girl, you'd make a jolly fine chap!"


"Is this seemly, Mrs. Platt-Higgins, playing popular music and your husband only ten years dead?"

Alan Shearman as Captain Hugh "Bullshot" Crummond in Bullshot (1983)

This movie is packed with great one-liners. It's a spoof of the old Bulldog Drummond films, which in turn were inspired by the novels of Herman Cyril McNeile. Drummond was a WWI hero who retired and - bored to death of civilian life - took up private detection. I understand that the novels are racist and nationalistic. I caught a glimpse of one of the early movies and that was hopelessly sexist.

So you here you have a hero, post-Holmes, pre-Bond, who is ripe for satire. And he was brilliantly satired in Bullshot. Unusually, the script was co-written by the three lead actors of the movie: Alan Shearman (Bullshot), Diz White (Rosemary) and Ronald E. House (Count Otto von Bruno). They're all so good in it and there are supporting performances by Billy Connolly, Robbie Coltrane and Frances Tomelty.

Reading up a bit more on the original Bulldog films, I was stunned to see the array of actors who have played him:

Carlyle Blackwell (1922)
Jack Buchanan (1925) - the singing Buchanan in a silent role!
Ronald Coleman (1929)
Kenneth MacKenna (1930)
Atholl Fleming (1935)
Ralph Richardson (1934)
John Lodge (1937)
Ray Milland (1937)
John Howard (1937-39)
Ron Randell (1947)
Tom Conway (1948)
Walter Pidgeon (1951)
Richard Johnson (1967 - 1969)

Monday, September 24, 2007

Two Related Quotes of the Day

"It's as if I've taken love heroin, and now I can't ever have it again."

Hugh Grant as William Thacker in Notting Hill (1999).

"I hold it true, whate'er befall;
I feel it, when I sorrow most;
'Tis better to have loved and lost
Than never to have loved at all."

In Memoriam by Alfred Lord Tennyson (1850)

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Quote of the Day

It's too cerebral! We're trying to make a movie here, not a film!

Eddie Murphy as Kit Ramsey in Bowfinger (1999).

Avast ye Slovenly Barnacle-Bottomed Rustbuckets!

Arrrrr... shiver me timbers, but it's a fine to do when a sea-lovin' cabin wench such as meself is forgettin' the greatest day o' the year.


Four day ago, it be "Talk like a Pirate Day" and a fine day it be, or I'll know the reason why an' it'll be Davy Jones' locker for the lot of ye slovenly landlubbers who question the sanctity o' such a day.... arrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr.

Me heart is soothed to know it be a mere 361 days until the next Talk Like a Pirate Day... an' I not be forgettin' as it's already marked in the Cap'n's log that I was only polishin' this very night. Arrr, he be a fine Cap'n too, and firm with the orders, makin' me walk his plank, climb his mast and load his cannon day and night. An' by rights I be admittin' he's told me many a time that I be a fine wench, as wenches go. Aye, I keep his Roger jolly.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Quote of the Day

"Six inches is more than adequate. Anything more than that is vulgar!"

Maggie Smith in the title role in The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie (1969).

Miss Brodie is telling her students about how wide a window should be left open here. Yup.

Working Late and Coming Home

I'm only just home from work, and I've been pulling some crazy hours. But I tell you what I've found... home is so much sweeter for having been away from it so much.

Everything looks cosier, more welcoming, more soothing.

For the last couple of days we experienced a rise in temperature, kind of warm for the time of year, but I know soon it will be cool again, and especially so at night. That's when I put the fire on.


My DVD fireplace!

It's so great. It looks realistic, it has fire-crackling sounds, and I find it very soothing. I burn a pressed-balsam incense cone sometimes, and if I lay on the sofa reading, seeing the fireplace out of the corner of my eye, and smell the subtle, wood-smoke scent, I could swear I was laying in front of the real thing.

It doesn't burn down. I'm not sure what kind of loop it's on, but the fire is always cheerfully burning at the same rate. There are other fireplace DVDs you can buy where the fire starts out low, builds quickly to a furious roar, settles and finally, an hour or so later, is just embers. That would be cool. But they costs twice as much, and I like my steady burn.

There is also an option on it for playing holiday music alone or with the crackling fire sounds. All classics, sung by Rosemary Clooney and Bing Crosby. I've not played that yet.

Oh yes, and last Christmas, the place got a bit warm. One of my guests said, "Could we turn off the DVD fireplace, it's making me feel hot." I loved that.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Quote of the Day

"Aye lassie, he'll warm ye forever in the white heat of his heather-powered, Scottish brand of single-malt passion!"

Me, in a bit of a state, 2005.

Quote of the Day

"I tried to forget you... I thought I had."

Ciaran Hinds as Captain Frederick Wentworth in Persuasion (1995).

....................................... THUD. Ow.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

At Last... Some Fiction

I've been a very slow reader this year. No particular reason.

Right now, on a friend's recommendation, I'm reading Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ's Childhood Pal by Christopher Moore. It's a great premise: what happened to Jesus in those 30-odd years not covered by the official Gospels? Enter the narrator Levi who is also called Biff, a smart-arse, sarcasm-inventing sidekick who, 2,000 years ago, loved Jesus as a friend while recognizing that his playmate was also the Son of God. He is resurrected into the present day by the archangel Raziel, and commanded to compose a new Gospel, his own remembrances of Jesus's life. It covers where Jesus travelled (with Biff of course) and where and how he learned to be the Messiah, a very new and revolutionary spiritual leader.

It's irreverant, absurd and mocking to everything BUT Jesus and the faith he inspired and the basic beliefs of Christianity. As a reviewer noted, it can be read by Christians without offense, and it might even bring non-believers into the fold. If you have some biblical knowledge, you can delight in the puns and double-entendres. Otherwise it's just a really good read.

And I can't help being intrigued by an author some of whose other works are titled Island of the Sequined Love Nun, Bloodsucking Fiends and The Lust Lizard of Melancholy Cove.

Quote of the Day

"Looks like I picked the wrong week to quit drinking."

Lloyd Bridges as Steve McCroskey in Airplane! (1980).

One of the greatest comedies... ever.

Everybody Can Stop Panicking

I found them!

And so can you... in the lower level of the St. Lawrence Market, south end, in that fabulous bulk place. They have all three Lindt Creation 70% bars: caramel, cherry-chili, and orange. $4.49 a bar.

Regarding Callebaut chocolate, they only carry the semi-sweet mini and white mini chocolate chips. But they're going to ask their supplier about the larger dark-chocolate Callebaut chips.

Well... I'll sleep easier tonight.

Dark Brown Food/Drink Substances in the News!

1. Here is a happy picture from yesterday evening: a can of Guinness poured into my 007 glass, waiting to be savoured. And savour it I did. The creamy head, the smooth, heavy brew. I wonder if Bond ever drank Guinness? I bet he didn't.

2. HELP!!! I found today that earlier in the year, a limited amount of Guinness-flavoured Marmite was created. HELP!!! I need to try this! While I scour the internet for details, please let me know if you have any information. Guinness + Marmite...................... THUD.

3. The debate is raging out of control! Apparently, Paddington Bear is part of a new advertising campaign to promote Marmite. Now we all know that Paddingtons's favourite food is marmalade. He always keeps a jar in the suitcase he carries around, in case of emergencies. So for the Paddington image to be used to promote Marmite is seen as a betrayal by his fans and yet a triumph for Marmite-lovers everywhere. I - like so many I am sure - fall into both categories. He's growing up, his tastes are evolving. And why can't he love both marmalade and marmite? And as he was born in darkest Peru, you have to wonder if the makers of Marmite aren't saying "Hey, you don't have to be born in the British Isles to like it." The slogan remains the same though: "You either love it or hate it." See the little marmite jar beside him and the marmite-cheese-lettuce sandwich in his paw? Okay, I'm having that for breakfast. My mouth is watering.

UPDATE: Breakfast was wonderful. By the way, in the ad Paddington uses the new squeezy bottle of Marmite to drizzle over his bread. I advise not to drizzle so boldly if you are new to Marmite. As I have said before, a thin smear is all you should try the first time.

Sunday, September 16, 2007


A colleague (and fellow chocoholic) came to me last week with a new discovery: Lindt Creation bars. The one she gave me is the Caramel version. Each square is a 70% dark chocolate shell with a thin layer of caramel and truffle filling.

I'm eking it out carefully. We have a piece every few days. Apparently there are other flavours, which I have determined must be hunted down immediately! Don't worry everyone... I'm on the case.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Quote of the Day

"Are you a good witch, or a bad witch?"

Billie Burke as Glinda, the Good Witch of the North in The Wizard of Oz (1939)

I say this line quite often as a bad Billie Burke impression in an attempt to amuse/annoy my dad, for whom this movie ranks up there with his top three.

"Are you a good weetch? Orrr a bed weetch?"

As a little girl I loved Glinda's puffy pink dress with all the sparkles: the height of glamour as far as I was concerned. I would have never believed then - and still find it hard to believe - that she was 54 at the time. Billie Burke had married Florenz Ziegfeld of the famous Follies and had retired from acting, but - with the Wall Street crash of 1929 and the loss of their wealth - was forced to return to her career, to the delight and relief of munchkins everywhere.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Quote of the Day

"When they land we blow up the roof. They spend a month sifting through rubble, and by the time they work out what went wrong, we'll be sitting on a beach, earning twenty percent."

Alan Rickman as Hans Gruber in Die Hard (1988)

Still my favourite action movie and the film that taught me that a good thriller needs a great villain. Alan Rickman was IT with his melifluous German accent, his well-cut suit and his posse of follicly-blessed, glamorous Euro-thugs.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

15 Great Love Scenes in Film

For this list, I have picked scenes that I love. Some ring true, some are fantastical, some subtle, some explicit, some gently romantic, some erotic, some tender, some torrid. It's personal and highly subjective. I also decided to only pick scenes where I enjoyed both actors equally. In no particular order...

Francesca (Meryl Streep) and Robert (Clint Eastwood) dance - and finally kiss - in her kitchen, with Johnny Hartman singing on the radio in the background.

Eastwood takes a badly written, hopelessly overrated book and makes a beautiful film out of it. Meryl Streep, the ultra-WASP, is perfectly convincing as an Italian woman. Truly, she is a goddess! Both actors showed that it is never too late to fall powerfully, IRREVOCABLY (in-joke for some of my colleagues) in love.

Guy (Mel Gibson) and Jill (Sigourney Weaver) banter over after-lunch drinks in the stifling heat of a Indonesian noon. They are caught in a rain storm, run for his car and collapse with laughter, giddy from the chemistry and the alcohol.

This was Mel Gibson before his roles utilized his native (yet strangely unnatural) American accent. As a young, ambitiously raw Australian journalist in Indonesia in the early 60s, he's compelling and exciting and a great foil for Sigourney Weaver's cool English diplomat. During the promotion of this film, she was apparently very impressed by Mel's lack of self conciousness that she was a fair bit taller than him.

Guy (Mel Gibson) has crashed the embassy ball and persuaded Jill (Sigourney Weaver) to break curfew and go somewhere where they can be alone. As they drive through the dark streets of the countryside surrounding Jakarta, she tosses away his cigarette and distracts him with kisses; they smash through a checkpoint to the spray of machine-gun fire; and revel in the erotic excitement of their dangerous actions.

The music of Vangelis was brilliantly used here. It's an excerpt called "L'Enfant" from his Opera Sauvage.

At the airport, Rick (Humphrey Bogart) is determined to get Elsa (Ingrid Bergman) on the plane with her husband Laszlo. He assures her that as painful as their separation is now, they have the memories of their love affair, and reminds here that their personal problems are nothing compared to what is at stake.

Bogart speaks those oft-quoted lines (the entire scenes is oft-quoted, what a piece of writing!) in a rapid-fire manner. But in his eyes you see all the love and longing he is careful not to indulge too openly. Elsa is the weaker one here; she wants to stay, but Rick knows they have to do the honourable thing. Which of us has ever been so self-sacrificing? This final scene always leaves me gob-smacked. Humphrey Bogart was a small man and seemed prematurely aged and worn. But there was always something very powerful about him. I always feel that if you were in trouble, he'd be the man you'd want around. I have no idea how he did it. His large, dark eyes spoke volumes and, for me, the actor's eyes are everything. I suppose whatever he had was real screen presence.

With humour and firmness, Jerry (Paul Henreid) finally breaks through Charlotte's (Bette Davis) bitter protective shell and she melts into a man's arms for the first time in years.

Bette Davis could be hard as nails and soft as butter; not beautiful, but with poise and elegance in the way she moved. Every scene with these two is a love scene. And she is splendid in all of them, evolving as the film progresses, with Henreid as a handsome, charming foil to her shifting moods. And in this moment, on the hotel balcony they share, you experience Hollywood's coy and effective suggestion that the scene might end with a kiss, but the night has just begun.

Romeo (Leonardo di Caprio) and Juliet (Claire Danes) meet for the first time at a costume party at her family's magnficent home.

Director Baz Luhrmann stays true to the spirit of the Shakespeare play. The language suffers somewhat, but who cares when young infatuation/love is so beautifully portrayed by young actors who express all on their faces - nothing is hidden. The scene starts as they view each other through the water of a giant fish tank, and ends with them falling into the pool, a perfect watery environment in which to succumb to primitive, sensual discovery.

LONE STAR (1996)
Sam (Chris Cooper) and Pilar (Elizabeth Peña) rekindle their past love affair with a spontaneously sweaty love-making that leaves them both gasping. When she can speak again, she ask "What do we do now?" in reference to other complications in their lives. As the blood rushes back to his head he whispers... "More?"

The teenage love between these two characters has haunted them for years. They were separated forcefully then, and now they reunite as different people who have evolved with life experiences... but the attraction and chemistry is still there. These characters feel so real, and you are longing for them to make it work.

Lifting from a series of schmaltzy and not-so-schmaltzy love songs of the past 20 years, Christian (Ewan McGregor) convinces the courtesan Satine (Nicole Kidman) that they should be lovers. She succumbs, and the scene ends with her comment "You're going to be bad for business."

Another outrageously self-indulgent and hopelessly romantic movie by Baz Luhrmann. Some of it is hard to take, but this scene - operatically over-the-top and speaking to romantics everywhere - is made possible by the charm of the two stars. The camera loves Nicole Kidman's face like it did the stars of old Hollywood.

As the year turns from 1799 to 1800, Lord Nelson (Laurence Olivier) has stolen away with Lady Emma Hamilton (Vivien Leigh). The clocks chime midnight and he is kissing her atop a Neopolitan balcony, with fireworks exploding in the bay below. "Now I've kissed you through two centuries."

The stars were at the height of their physical beauty (even when Olivier as Nelson has lost an arm and an eye, he's still pretty gorgeous) and the sets and costumes are sumptuously satisfying. And these two - married in real life - had real chemistry on screen and that often isn't the case. There is a use of paste-encrusted organza in this film, a sort of sparkly veil on some of Leigh's costumes, that always seemed the height of glamour to me as a little girl. It still does.

Even as sports-trainer Mike (Spencer Tracy) is tucking his prized lady-athlete Pat (Katherine Hepburn) into bed, you can read through his gruffness and her melting eyes, and with no kisses or touches yet, that they have fallen in love.

Here is another couple who had great off- and on-screen chemistry. Both the script for this movie and Adam's Rib (1949) - in which Spencer and Tracy depicted lawyers married to each other - were written by another married couple, Ruth Gordon and Garson Kanin, who were inspired in their writings by their own relationship.

Molly (Meryl Streep) and Frank (Robert de Niro) borrow a friend's apartment for the afternoon to finally consumate their relationship.

I won't describe the scene any further as it would be wrong to do so until you have seen it. This movie didn't do as well as it might have at the box office or with the critics. A straightforward love story of two suburban, American thirty-somethings was a surprise to most audiences who were used to seeing the two stars in more seemingly challenging roles. Both were/are famed for playing extremes of tranformation. But how challenging is it to play extraordinary love felt by everyday people? They do it wonderfully.

Anne (Amanda Root) has read Frederick's (Ciaran Hinds) letter, and has come to find him in the last moments of the film.

This is the best of the Jane Austen adaptations in my opinion. A lack of make up (shiny noses!), and a great deal of natural lighting effects create a very real world. You can almost smell the sea, the interiors, and the cold ham on the lunch table. Amanda Root transforms in the film from pinch-faced, disappointed spinster to radiant lover, with a flush in her cheeks and a glow in her eyes - the marks of love very cleverly applied. Ciaran Hinds is drool-worthy as Captain Frederick Wentworth. Sigh. I would have included Sense and Sensibility (1995) here, as I love Emma Thompson's sobbing/honking joy at Hugh Grant's declaration of love, but I'd rather she'd ended up with someone more like Alan Rickman's character, so can't really list it.

THE PIANO (1993)
George (Harvey Keitel) makes love to Ada (Holly Hunter) as she plays the piano.

I only saw this movie once, when it was first released, so I don't remember huge amounts. But when Keitel stroked his fingers up Hunter's bare arms, I found myself holding my breath so as not to miss a second. A simple scene breathtakingly choreographed and very erotic.

Karen (Jennifer Lopez) and Jack (George Clooney) teasingly undress for each other in a hotel room.

The first time these characters meet, pressed up against each other in the trunk of a car, there is the most magnificent chemistry. But really I have to go with this scene, when finally they consumate that chemistry. It was also my first experience of seeing JLo's magnficent bottom. It's a scene-stealing posterior, even when you have a getting-naked George Clooney too. Two gorgeous people heating up the screen. Someone put them in another movie together, please!

In the final moment, the Beast (Jean Marais) has transformed into a handsome young prince with the look of Avenant, Belle's former suitor. Belle (Josette Day) is understandably discombobulated. He tells her he will take her away to his kingdom, and asks if she is frightened. With a growing glow of possibility in her eyes, she replies "I like being frightened... with YOU."

Not so much a scene, as a moment. Jean Cocteau described his film as a fairy tale for adults. The imagery, surreal and deeply romantic, is unforgettable and has been homaged in many films since.

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Be Warned my Friends

It's up to you if you care to waste your $10 or so, or to lose two hours you'll never get back. Today I saw Shoot 'Em Up, and it is one of the worst movies I have ever seen. I won't go into detail, only to say that we nearly left but ultimately sat it out. Clive Owen looks great. There you go.

Friday, September 7, 2007

Quote of the Day

"Well, Rick is the kind of man that... well, if I were a woman, and I were not around, I should be in love with Rick. But what a fool I am talking to a beautiful woman about another man."

Claude Rains as Captain Renault in Casablanca (1942)

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Quote of the Day

"Wasn't no harm in him. You'd give him a flower, he'd keep it forever. "

Linda Manz as Linda in Days of Heaven (1978)

This movie has haunted me since I first saw it in the early 80s. The story tells of a pair of lovers (a young Richard Gere and Brooke Adams) in the early 1900s, who - posing as brother and sister - travel to Texas to work as harvesters for a rich farmer, Sam Shepard. Néstor Almendros won an Oscar for his photography. Drumheller, Alberta, stood in for the Texas panhandle and did it proud. There are so many unforgettable images: the wind tossing the sheafs of wheat in the sunset; time-lapse photography of the wheat growing underground; the great threshers during harvesting; the faces of the actors - Shepard, Gere, Adams, Linda Manz - in still, silent moments; the buffalo on the snow-covered prairie; an underwater shot of a trout swimming by a discarded, ornate wine glass. The sound is beautifully used too. Long moments of silence... the wind in the wheat, the slamming of wooden screen door, and the eerie use of Saint-Saëns "The Aquarium" from Carnival of the Animals in the opening credits, against sepia-toned vintage photography of the period.

It was Terrence Malick's second film and it's been hailed as the first art film to come out of the U.S.A., whatever that means. He wasn't to make another movie for 20 years. I can't say enough about this film. I couldn't bear to not see it on a regular basis so it was one of the first DVDs I bought.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Triple Chocolate Brownies

Here are the triple chocolate brownies I made this weekend (Nigella Lawson's recipe). I added some ganache in white and brown chocolate drizzled over the top. They are the ultimate in gooeyness. My happy discovery (in Bulk Barn) was Callebaut dark chocolate chips. I've always bought Callebaut in block-form. These chips are the best. Just eating them on their own is pleasure - creamy, dark, smooth. Mmmmmmmmmmm.

The triple chocolate comes from the Callebaut chips which are melted into the basic batter, then the PC Decadent White Chocolate Chips and the PC Decadent Chocolate Chunks. The latter two I also used melted with cream to make the ganache.