Dream of the Dolphin
Confessions of a Post-Graduate Pity Whore
Entertaining DiversionsAnd life continues to run screaming past. It's fun!
So what have I seen lately?
Sibling and I went to see Evil Dead: The Musical, which was hilarious. I went primarily to keep the sibling company, since he'd been really bummed about missing the first run, but by the end of the night, my head was pounding from laughing so hard. Featuring songs like "Look Who's Evil Now", "What the Fuck Was That?", and the ballad "Why Do All the Men In My Life Keep Getting Killed By Candarian Demons?", and the absolutely surreal moment of beaming cast members taking a curtain call absolutely covered in blood, it was a hoot, and well worth checking out (it's moving on to the Just For Laughs festival in Montreal, and could very easily become as much of a cult thing as Rocky Horror).
I also managed to win another pair of tickets from the Mix, this time to the preview screening of Two Brothers, which was actually quite good. It wasn't the "cute little boy with animals" movie the trailers make it out to be. I cried. A couple times. And left the theatre feeling all warm and fuzzy.
The biggest problem with that movie actually had nothing to do with what was onscreen, and everything to do with the two women beside me, who felt the inexplicable need to narrate the entire fucking movie. A comment or two I can understand. But this started early ("I hope they don't talk. This movie will be terrible if they talk. Is it going to be like this for the entire movie?") and didn't let up till the end ("Oh, I know, he's going to do this. Look, he's jumping. No he's going to come tell his brother. Oh, it's THAT one."). At one point I actually turned to glare at them (and got the hell shocked out of me when I realized that they were both, like, thirty, and not the thirteen I had suspected), and the one next to me actually sincerely said "oh, sorry." But then, two minutes later, they started again.
What is it with people and movies these days? The sib and I went to see Harry Potter again, and when I was waiting to give my ticket to the guy at the entrance, these two people cut in front of me. I gave my best "what the hell do you think you're doing?" glare, which prompted some lame excuse from the two about thinking there was somebody taking tickets on the other side (well there isn't, nimrods, so get behind me), and an apology from the ticket guy after he did them first. I didn't think on it much until I was telling the sibling and found out that the same two people cut in front of HIM in the concession line.
You know, generally how lineups work is that the person at the front of the line goes first. Jerks.
Sib and I (well, sib, since I'm totally broke) also rented a bunch of things we greatly enjoyed.
The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra is abso-freaking-loutely hilarious, and anyone who even remotely likes science fiction needs to see it. It's a movie made to look/sound like a 1950's B-movie, and parts of it are actually brilliant. And it reminds me very much of the movies we used to make in our backyard.
50 First Dates surprised me. I was expecting waff, but on a recommendation from Chris, I rented it. And it was great. True, it could have done completely without the humiliate-the-Germanic-vet-tech subplot, but the movie itself is actually kinda tragic, they don't take the easy way out at the end, and Sean Astin does a hell of a job dispelling Sam Gamgee (sib didn't even realize it was Sean Astin until I pointed it out at the end). In all, quite enjoyable.
And then there's Millennium Actress. An anime by the guy who did Perfect Blue, it was absolutely brilliant. Touching, funny, and as painstakingly crafted as a fine sculpture, it's well worth seeing. Karina, there's enough structure geekery here to tide you over for a year.
So that's it for the diversions in my life. Trek is coming up fast and I'm a trifle screwed -- this is the first time in a while I haven't been able to make rent. I tapped the savings account (that's what savings accounts are for), and I get paid again on Friday, which takes care of the rent, loan payments, and Trek (it's weird actually having to work out a budget for a con), but I'm also not getting anything but the emergency groceries for another couple of weeks. Which in its way is a good thing, because if I want a meal that's not ramen, I have to rid the shelves of stuff I stopped paying attention to. I ended up coming up with a coconut rice/lentil thing the other night that actually turned out to be really good (if somewhat spicy). And I think there's a couple of boxes of Indian-themed pilaf left, too, which will see me through to Trek.
Of course, I plan to win the lottery this week, so this will all turn out to be moot anyway. Whee!
( 11:37 AM ) Sarah Jane ~
Thursday, June 24, 2004
Ooh, tell me more good stuff about me...Okay, so I'm sharing the accolade, but this is pretty frelling cool. Check out this five-star review of ODYSSEY. And boy, does she ever have me nailed. :o)
( 8:47 PM ) Sarah Jane ~
Wednesday, June 23, 2004
State of the WriterThis one's for Charity. :o)
So the writing. Yeah. That thing. See, it's been tough. I'm working three jobs right now to make ends meet, and until I can quit the hostel job, writing times are few and far between. It doesn't help that I'm a block writer -- I write best with large blocks of time. I do not write very well in fits and starts. It shows up pretty prominently when I've been snatching at writing time.
That said, Chris has been at me big time to make up a plan of attack. Which we've done. She's pretty handy, is Chris. ;o) So we've come up with the following:
I'll see if I can come up with some snippets sometime soon.
( 10:42 PM ) Sarah Jane ~
Wanna Make Something Of It?It was recently brought to my attention that one of the supervisors at the ROM has been laughing at me behind my back because I admitted that the job I'm currently doing is my dream job. Now, before I go any further, let me make it perfectly clear that I don't give a damn what he thinks about me -- the man wears Prada and obsesses over the Atkins diet, for Pete's sake. But yes, the ROM is my dream job. Or at least one of them.
I've had several dream jobs in mind over the years. They are, in no particular order:
Writing -- check. Sort of. Getting paid for it now, anyway.
Bakka -- check.
Museum -- check. AND a large part of my work at the museum these days involves using puppets, so that kinda takes care of number two. All that leaves is the dolphins, and I fully intend to apply for a travel/research grant to go hang out with dolphin researchers someday so that I can finally write TTLG, so that takes care of it all.
My plan is to quit the one remaining job I can't stand when I actually sell a book, and make my living writing four days a week, and working at Bakka and the ROM for the rest of it. That would make me very happy.
I remember the moment when I realized that working at the ROM was what I wanted to do. It was toward the end of school when I'd been waffling around between veterinary work and grad school, and was basically clueless as to what I wanted to do with my life and the Zoology degree I'd slaved toward for the past four years. I'd been volunteering for a few months (which started because of an Animal Biodiversity lab we did in Hands-On Bio), and I had a moment with a really great kid, talking about bees. And it hit me.
I would be perfectly happy spending the rest of my life doing this.
Learning new things about biology and passing it on in a way that made kids really excited about science. I swear, there was a chorus of angels singing in the background. It was a revelation. This is what I want to DO. I spent the next two years volunteering, throwing myself into the job with everything I had, and throwing résumés at HR every time a job opened up. Last December, it paid off. I fought for two years to get the job I really wanted, and now I have it. And I couldn't be happier.
Oh yeah, I complain about stuff. I bitch about the people who steal things, or yell at me when I advise them to wash their hands because the deer they've just climbed a barrier to touch is extremely toxic, or try their damndest to smash the beehive. But no matter how frustrating things can get sometimes (when you work in public services, they can get really frustrating), there are moments that make it all worth it. Moments like my bee kid. Moments like the little girl who came in, obviously mentally challenged and frightened of the animals, and left laughing and hugging Dottie the Dodo. Moments worth living for.
I get to share my love of bio, and share bio geek moments with the other staff. I get to use puppets. I get to write. I get to be involved with really cool visiting things like the Lord of the Rings exhibit and Eternal Egypt. I get to be a part of fabulous projects like the Digital Gallery.
And perhaps most importantly, I'm having the time of my life. I love my job (that counts for Bakka and writing, too). I actually wake up four days out of seven now thinking "Oh boy, I get to go to work."
So laugh at me if you will. But if you're laughing at me, I strongly suspect you haven't found the career that fulfills you the way mine does me. And if that's the case... well, I feel sorry for you. That's just sad.
( 1:49 PM ) Sarah Jane ~
Tuesday, June 22, 2004
"I Feel Like Wesley Crusher..."Say what you will about the whole silicate-alien-amoeba-from-space-eating-the-museum architecture or the frustrations that come with the whole Renaissance ROM project (and oh, believe me, we say many things about it), there are certain parts of it that are really freaking cool.
Last weekend, I got to attend the preview runs of the new Digital Gallery, and is it ever neat.
The Digital Gallery has been in progress since I joined the ROM, a massive project to digitize the items in the ROM's collection, which now number almost six million items, to bring them to the public in ways that have never been possible before.
It's cool. I mean, really cool.
You walk into the Digital Gallery, which is in essence a classroom, only all the desks are lit from underneath with this cool blue light. You take your place at a station (one or two people per touch screen), and they begin the presentation -- currently "Daily Life in Ancient Egypt" (to coincide with both the now-departed Eternal Egypt exhibit, and the current closure of the Greek, Egyptian, and Etruscan galleries for roof construction). The lights dim and the presentation begins -- it's very whoosh-y, with graphics and music and stuff. Very cool.
The Egypt presentation features one of the ROM's Egyptologists (whose name I keep forgetting, but she's phenomenal -- she gave us our Egypt talk) going through life in daily Egypt, but as she discusses things in the presentation, you get to pull them up on the touch screen and play with them in 3-D. You can move, zoom, and rotate objects, which means you can see details on them that you miss when they're just sitting in display cases ("hey look, Isis has footprints on the bottom!"). The addition of being able to manipulate the object in question to the presentation really hammers things home in a way that a plain video can't, and allows what was previously impossible -- a near hands-on experience with objects that are over five thousand years old. It's very cool and space age, and makes you feel kinda like you're at Starfleet Academy or something.
But more than anything else, it's a huge glimpse of what's in store for us in the near future.
I love my job. But more on that later. :o)
( 1:33 PM ) Sarah Jane ~
Monday, June 21, 2004
NOOOOOOO!!!!Where have I been? Busy. Stuff going well, but I get back to my computer around 10 p.m. these days and just can't seem to fit the blogging in. Very cool stuff happening, though. I promise to catch up on some of it later (maybe today, if I can get my work done early). :o)
But I just learned something truly awful. From reports that are being confirmed as reasonably reliable, it seems that the Inuyasha anime will be ending in September.
Even worse, Ear Tweak just reposted the kongousouha issue of the Inuyasha manga in honour of the episode currently airing in Japan. The date on the manga -- a year ago.
That's right. Spell it out with me now.
Son of a bitch.
BUT, they're also making Inuyasha 4 (the movie), which will be released after the series is allegedly ending. Which leaves hope that they'll finish up whatever threads remain with movies.
I really, really hope so. I've sunk way too many hours into this series to have it end without finishing. ::sigh::
(But, in cooler news, the first two Inuyasha movie DVDs are finally getting a North American release. Dubbed version, lamentably, but the DVDs should have a Japanese language track. About frelling time.)
( 11:49 AM ) Sarah Jane ~
Tuesday, June 08, 2004
Curse You, Alexander Graham!Easily half of the calls I get on the residents' line at the hostel go like this:
ME: Hello, can I help you? [we can't answer the residents' line with the name of the hostel]I transfer the call to the residents line. No one answers. Thirty seconds later, my phone starts ringing again.
CALLER: I want to know who called me from this number!What I want to know is, does anyone else do this? Call numbers that show up on your call display if people don't leave a message? Cause I get this kind of call all the time.
I think the only call I get with more frequency is the following call for our outreach worker, (let's call him "Jared"), who has office hours two afternoons of the week and the rest of the time is usually in and out between the office and the community, doing his job.
ME: Good morning, [name of our hostel].I transfer the call, watch the light blink. Watch the light hold steady as the voice mail picks up. Watch it start blinking again. My phone rings.
ME: Good morning, [name of my hostel].And so on. The thing is, the overnight staff get these calls, too. Frequently. At 2 a.m. And when you're fielding calls like this, at least five a day (sometimes as many as thirty times a day, and I'm not exaggerating), you start to develop a certain deep loathing for the whole concept of the telephone.
There's a reason I take so long to answer my phone at home.
( 10:31 AM ) Sarah Jane ~
Sunday, June 06, 2004
Crazy In LoveMy sibling sends me the best movie links. I just wish I knew what he was singing.
( 11:33 PM ) Sarah Jane ~
Saturday, June 05, 2004
PotteringSo I went with a contingent of newsgroupies -- Jana, Karina, Lara, Rob, Ross, and Sandie -- to see Harry Potter tonight. My thoughts on the movie will be incredibly spoilery, so I'm whiting them out for you. But before I get to the movie, there was the ordeal of getting there...
I'm used to seeing movies at the Varsity or the Paramount, where the audience has its fair share of kids, but there's also a heavy dollop of university students. Tonight's screening was composed largely of teenage girls. Young teenage girls. Which was bad enough, but I had to wait in line with them. And let me tell you, three hours of waiting in a line next to a group of airheads dressed like Gryffindor students in a porn movie about Catholic schoolgirls, discussing x-rated Harry Potter fanfic in graphic detail and uttering such founts of wisdom as "ah man, this movie's gonna suck, it's directed by some Mexican guy" and "no that girl. No look the other way. No, right next to you" Um, hi, that would be me... at about thirty times the volume of a sane and rational person, you get the intense and overwhelming urge to locate the nearest sharp object and drive it into you eye. I came very close to throwing Nibs at them during the movie. And I've rarely wished so strongly for Variel to suddenly corporialize. But anyway. On to the movie.
My God. Don't get me wrong, I loved the first two movies, but this one was so much better. Cuarón (a.k.a. "Some Mexican Guy, or SMG for short so I don't have to keep tying that ó") took what Columbus made, beat out the newness, and made it something entirely more real. Columbus made movies like a detailed snapshot of Rowling's world, all crisp and shiny and fantastic. SMG took that snapshot and used it to build the real thing, and then opened it up to explore in something that is so stunning that at times it takes your breath away.
While I look back on Columbus's movies, I think "God, I loved them", but can't pick anything particular out. With SMG's, I think "God, I loved that. Oh, this bit was great. And that bit. And that bit there. Oh, and when he did this..." So many things just stand out.
And now, the spoilery details. Commencing whiteout...
My word, how time flies... the kids are all grown up now, and SMG uses them to great effect. There's a moment, when they're standing on the hill above Hagrid's house (and that's another change -- you now know exactly where Hagrid's house is in relation to the school, and the landscape is at once less fantastic and a heck of a lot prettier), where Hermione leans into Ron and Harry leans into Hermione -- ignoring the little voice in my head quipping "oh, the fanfic writers are gonna have a field day with this...", the visual really resonated, because it summed up what these kids are to each other. They're friends driven incredibly close by the trials they've been though, and that moment really underscores how they can express it by physical closeness as they take comfort from one another.
Another thing I really liked about the movie was SMG's playing around with the theme of time. It carries through the movie but only becomes really apparent at the end. But it's there all through it, both in the text, and through visual reminders, with a giant clock punctuating it all.
I've already mentioned the stunning visuals. But two things that really hit deep were how much I enjoyed the personality the Willow gained, and one particular moment just after the students arrive at Hogwarts. The boys are gathered in their dorm room messing around, in a beautifully innocent moment of children just being children. And the camera slowly pulls out the window to reveal the Dementors massing.
And one of my biggest gripes about the books is that I love Snape in the first one, but he seems to be getting progressively more two-dimensionally nasty as the books progress. He's still nasty, but when they're gathered beneath the willow and Lupin turns into a werewolf, Snape protects the children. He's still irritable and snaps at Harry with more annoyance than concern when he runs after Sirius, but he doesn't hesitate to put himself between the students and the immediate danger. I liked that. I liked that a lot.
And can I talk about the acting? Emma Thompson almost unrecognizable as Professor Trewlaney is my favourite casting decision of this movie. She's so utterly spectacular in the part that she turned Trewlaney, one of my least favourite characters in the books, into my favourite character of this movie.
But I have to say, though Gary Oldman was fantastic, the one who truly blew me away was David Thewlis as Lupin. The combination of SMG and Thewlis created something truly magical. When Lupin is teaching the students to fight the boggart, he puts on a record on a phonograph that plays this silly, bouncy tune. At then end of the movie, Harry goes into Lupin's office, and the tune is playing again, but with a markedly different effect. He's playing this happy, bouncy tune as he packs up his things, driven out by what he is. And the quiet, resigned pain Thewlis brings to the part, combined with the evidence of how transient Lupin's life is and this happy tune becoming something almost mocking, had me on the verge of tears. It's moments like that -- quiet, raw, and real -- that elevate this instalment of the Potter films head and shoulders above the rest.
In fact, the only things about the movie that bothered me were the omissions. I missed Fang, and Professor Flitwick, and most of all, Oliver Wood. And yes, yes, it was a long book and there was a lot to fit in the movie, and when it comes down to it, learning the Expecto Patronum was more important to the movie than gratuitous Oliver Wood fanservice... but I still missed the fanservice.
And on one final, personally indulgent note, SMG also knows how to use CGI. The only time I actually cried during this movie was when Harry flies on Buckbeak, because it sent one thought running through my head.
Okay. They can finally do Variel.
I can't wait to see it again.
( 1:32 AM ) Sarah Jane ~
Thursday, June 03, 2004
Kawaii!!!Oh, my friends so totally rock!
( 11:54 PM ) Sarah Jane ~
Thunk...We kicked ass last night. That's really all I have to say. It was so much fun, and incredibly exhausting, and I've got this odd post-choir hangover today that's a combination of muscle strain through my legs, back (from standing in those frelling heels) and shoulders (from holding the music) and lack of oxygen or something making my head pound. But God, it was worth it. I need to find another choir doing Carmina Burana now. I don't want to stop....
Though I will have a bit more time now. For anyone who's waiting for an e-mail from me, I apologize. I'm starting in on my e-mail backlog today.
This'll go much faster when I get the CD of the concert. ::humming::
( 2:16 PM ) Sarah Jane ~
Wednesday, June 02, 2004
I Can Breathe Clearly NowIt's official. Toronto is now smoke free, and I'm very happy about it. I can go see Enter the Haggis now and not have to bring my inhaler. I can go to restaurants and not have to put up with the "invisible wall" -- you know, the one the smoke from the smoking section at the next table is supposed to stop at.
Of course, not everyone is as happy as I am. Which is understandable, and I can see the point about having designated smoking bars (although, after 2 years, I'll finally be able to visit the restaurant on the corner of my street, previously too smoky to enter).
But what I find funny is the argument (which I've heard a lot recently) that goes along the lines of: "All you non-smokers are hypocrites! How dare you berate me for smoking when you sit there stuffing your face with your cheeseburger and fries! Obesity kills more people than lung cancer, you know!"
When you sit down and eat a cheeseburger and fries, you're eating a cheeseburger and fries. Your choice. You may not care about the cholesterol and fat you're putting in your body, just like smokers may not care about the toxins they're dumping into their own bodies.
Fundamental difference: When you eat a cheeseburger, you're not injecting the people next to you and your waitress with fat and cholesterol.
And now, off to tape up my choir music before the concert. Hurrah!
( 2:03 PM ) Sarah Jane ~
Tuesday, June 01, 2004
Eat the MusicLast night we had the final dress rehearsal for Carmina Burana, and for the first time had all the components -- all the soloists, percussionists, choirs, and pianos.
Oh. My. God.
If you've ever been to see the Lion King live, you walk in and realize this show is going to be really cool, because they take over both of the lower boxes on either side of the stage with percussion instruments.
That's what it was like walking into the church last night. The church had even changed the banners in the sanctuary to something about "o holy spirit ignite our hearts", and though Erin and I did find the imagery of a cross surrounded by fire somewhat incongruous, it really suits Carmina. But nothing compares to what it was like when we actually started singing (the alternate Three Words I used were "holy fucking shit", but it seemed a little too blasphemous considering the venue).
There is no equivalent to live performance sometimes, because there are certain times when you're in a choir when you can actually feel the music. Your music, your entire body vibrates with it.
You could feel the music last night.
This is going to be the best concert I've ever performed in, which is why it's incredibly frustrating to me that NOBODY IN MY FAMILY IS COMING!!!! Though I do have some friends coming, which help make up for that. True, there will be CDs available eventually, so it's not like they'll never hear it. But it won't be the same. I'm just really frustrated that my parents are going to miss this. Because it's going to be something special.
-- Kate Bush
( 10:03 AM ) Sarah Jane ~