The Winter’s Tale

Ballet buddy Barb and I went to see The National Ballet of Canada’s production of The Winter’s Tale on Wednesday night. Although we were both English lit majors in the day, and read our more than fair share of Shakespeare, we knew absolutely zip about this play.

I wasn’t particularly psyched to go. The posters for the ballet were pretty monochrome and blah (sorry NBOC, but I was uninspired):

And I knew it was a long ballet – 2 1/2 hours with intermissions. I was tired, work was tedious and overwhelming; it seemed like a bit of an imposition to go. I trudged along to the Four Seasons with low expectations and low energy.

Hold the phone. It was beyond fabulous and invigorating, and I haven’t stopped talking about it since.

I can’t decide what I loved best about this ballet:

  • the choreography, a perfect meld of traditional and modern
  • the performances – esp. Piotr Stanczyk, whose descent into jealous madness is told on his face and through his off-balance contortions throughout (he’s a gifted actor as well)
  • the score by Joby Talbot
  • the exuberant (I think I stole that word from the NBOC programme) second Act – I need that music and those images on a loop in my brain from November 1 to Feb 28, every dreary winter:

  • the scenery and silk staging for the violent seas
  • Jamie Street’s awesome death as Mamillius (that kid can die like nobody’s business)
  • plus let’s not forget the gorgeous costumes – it is not a monochrome ballet at all – the jewel tones in Act 1 were awesome

The TO Star loved it also (4 stars/4 stars):

If you can manage to go (only 3 performances left), please do.  Clearly Shakespeare could not make up his mind whether this was a comedy or a tragedy, so he threw it all in, plus the kitchen sink. And Christopher Wheeldon’s ballet tells the great mess of a story, emotionally, with precision and remarkable beauty.

Streetcar doesn’t work as a ballet

Ballet buddy Barb and I went to see the National Ballet of Canada’s premiere of Streetcar Named Desire, with book club mate Helen.

Now, Barb and I are both English Lit grads (and Barb has her MA and wrote her thesis about Tennessee Williams), so we feel we are pretty well-positioned to judge a Tennessee Williams’ adaptation.

And I get that Neumeier’s ballet isn’t a strict adaptation of the play. That would be impossible. It’s his take on the themes and characters, translated to dance.

I just didn’t think it worked. The ballet is pretty much a glimpse into Blanche Dubois’ tortured mind. It’s flashbacks and feelings, very haunting and ethereal (esp. Act I). But that results in a narrative and plot that are both weak. And with the canned music (why no live orchestra? I now realize the live orchestra is about 49% of what I love about ballet), it was flimsy, fluttering and slow to progress. I felt many of the dance pieces dragged. (Although the raunchy sex scene between Stanley and Stella at the beginning of Act II was very hot. Mature content, indeed, the posters at the entrance door warned.)

Barb’s take is that the play is just too complex to translate into ballet. Maybe that’s it. Or, this particular ballet translated a brilliant play into a mediocre and diluted dance.

I don’t think popular opinion agrees with me, but I gotta call them as I see them.

Nevertheless, bravo to NBC for tackling it. And I was delighted to see that the Four Seasons was pretty much sold out for this performance.

Hubby’s blog

Check it out. Makes mine look like it was scrapbooked by a second grader.

Possibly my favourite post so far (I even tweeted about it):

Please read if you need a laugh.

And his views on politics are always a good read:


Go Fug Yourself Girls also believe clear jeans are insane

Clear jeans are just wrong.

I’m not really sure which are worse – the entirely clear jeans, or the clear knee jeans. Obviously the clear jeans are absurd (or dumb, as GFY says), and anyone who wears them is beyond salvation.

But … there may be some people who think the clear knee jeans are bordering on wear-able.  And they aren’t. That may be even worse.

Hear hear Jennifer Weiner

This is why I like how girls write and what girls write.  They write intelligently, they write strategically, they write honestly.

And sometimes they write vindictive, they write mean. And it’s fun.

They do NOT transcribe.

Nordstrom and Holt Renfrew are out of touch

And out of their tiny minds.

No, really.  And this:

I’m just embarrassed for any woman of any age who buys clear knee jeans. Dear God.  

The bus shelter in front of my office building has carried this Holt Renfrew ad for the past several weeks. I cringe in embarrassment every time I walk by it:

Any woman who thinks that this ridiculous outfit – what is apparently a swim suit, under a trench coat, with 6″ pink platform heels – is appropriate for any conceivable kind of event, be it party, beach, backyard, workplace, or even Halloween, is out of her mind.

Is this an indictment on the advertising world, that they think women are so gullible as to wear preposterous costumes like this? Or is it an indictment on women because, let’s face it, some gal somewhere must be forking out real $$ for this shit.

So ends my little rant.

More things I love about Nora Ephron

Her essay The Lost Strudel from I Feel Bad About my Neck. I read this very short piece on the subway one morning, years ago, and laughed out loud. And then re-read it immediately.

I’ve had a craving for cabbage strudel ever since (which objectively sounds disgusting), but I’m a bit afraid to try it, since it likely won’t live up to Nora’s praises (even Nora had trouble meeting her own expectations of strudel). And then I’d just be disappointed.  I’m sure Nora would tell me that’s not a healthy way to go through life (were she still with us).

I especially admire the line “I dropped Ed Levine’s name so hard you could hear it in New Jersey.” 

Nora Ephron’s tribute to Meryl Streep. Brilliant, funny – and her delivery is impeccable.  The crowd is mesmerized — when she talks about going into Meryl’s trailer at the end of her tribute, the entire audience of celebs and self-important people hang on her every word:

Plus – what a great outfit, right?

Nora Ephron’s tribute to Mike Nichols (only Nora can make a really bad pun hilarious):



Hawaiian pizza

I heard on the radio yesterday morning that Hawaiian pizza is a Canadian invention. And Wikipedia supports that. Apparently invented in a Chatham, ON pizzeria in 1962.

What troubled me was the knee-jerk reaction of the dude on the radio, who said “Obviously not Canada’s finest hour”. And everybody laughed, ha ha ha.

Really? It’s not my go-to order, but every now and then, I love a simple ham and pineapple pizza. I didn’t even know ordering it was patriotic.

Wikipedia also says that the Hawaiian pizza is the most popular pizza in Australia, accounting for 15% of pizza sales! 15% of Australians (an entire continent!) cannot be wrong.

What do you think of Hawaiian pizza?

Worst app idea, ever

I saw an ad on the subway yesterday for a new app. It’s called “Frank: Your Social Mirror”, and here’s the pitch:

Find out what your friends really think about you, and tell them what you think about them, too – anonymously.

Frank claims that:

By answering your friend’s questions on Frank, you will be supporting them through their everyday decisions. Everything from what to wear to a party, to what qualities they can work on to improve their social relationships.

(I’m not even going to parse the grammar of that first sentence.)

Examples on the website include:

Should I purchase these pants?

What do you think I can improve about myself?

Dear freaking Jesus, no.

Let’s just create a vehicle to allow girls to bully and name-call each other anonymously. Because, that’s what it’s going to be. I’ve been a teen girl, I’ve gone to high school with teen girls, and I’ve watched Tina Fey’s documentary Mean Girls.

I don’t mean to demean my gender, but come on. Young girls easily and mercilessly break through the thin veneer of civilized society all the time. They are vicious. They do not need encouragement to do it over social media and without attribution.

We all know what the answers to those questions are going to be:

No, Brittany, you shouldn’t buy those pants, you fat cow. We all hate you and you have no friends.

Stop being a horrible skanky slut Marissa. You are a loser. And keep away from my boyfriend.

It’s never going to be:

Brittany, trust your own judgment. You know yourself best.

Marissa, just be yourself. You are perfect the way you are.

I’m traumatized at the very thought of anyone, especially a young girl, willingly using this app. Everyone I’ve mentioned this app to OVERWHELMINGLY thinks it is the WORST idea ever.

Or as hubby put it, I’m already full of self-loathing. I don’t need it validated by my so-called friends.

Screw off, Frank.