Sunday, December 10, 2006

Happy Holidays to all

















A gentle morning light on snow-covered countryside. The cold Canadian winter is here and I feel as if I've been swept by an icy gale. Trying to pull myself out of pressures and disappointments. But there's that light, always a little light that brightens things up. Recalling childhood memories with old school friends, dancing away at a Xmas party, listening to jazz at The Rex, the twinkle of teasing eyes, kind words of encouragement, the warm touch of someone who cares ...

Wishing you all a happy holiday season and a wonderful New Year 2007 with family and friends.

Joyeux Noël à tous. J'espère écrire de nouveau après le nouvel an.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Au revoir

I'm overwhelmed by too many demands on my time and won't be writing for a while, well ... until I get things under control, hopefully in a few months or more. To my friends, my dear nephew, and a few other unknown readers who check this blog regularly, I'm sorry. Au revoir et à la prochaine.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

The show is over

Moody Toronto, my photo exhibition at the Regal Heights Bistro is over. The Town Crier, a local newspaper wrote an article on the show about a month ago. It's kind of funny that they've now published the article online just after the show is over, but it sort of stretches the good feeling, and I'm not complaining. It's always sad when something ends, but it's also invigorating to move on to the next project.

"Buddha says that sorrow results from trying to hold on to that which must disappear. The water in which we’re immersed moves constantly on its tides and storms and we must move with it"

This quote from Katherine Govier's book, Three Views of Crystal Water, expresses on a deeper level how I feel a little bit about the show but mostly about many things that I've lost - well, how I try to feel anyway.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

International Creole month

Samedi dernier, j'ai passé des moments agréables à parler créole, ma langue maternelle, et à déguster des amuse-gueules créoles, mais j'ai surtout trouvé très intéressant la présentation de Paul Comarmond sur l'esclavage et l'histoire du créole. Pendant le mois d'octobre, le Centre Francophone a plusieurs événements pour célébrer le mois créole et ça se termine avec une grande fête le 28 octobre, Journée Internationale Créole.

During the month of October, the Francophone Centre has a series of events to celebrate Creole month. It all ends with a splash on October 28, International Creole Day. It was fun to speak Creole, my mother tongue and to hear its colourful expressions last Saturday at the Francophone Centre. I enjoyed Paul Comarmond's presentation on how the Creole language was created by slaves speaking French. Paul also talked about the history of slavery. It is heart-wrenching to see pictures of slaves stuck one against another like sardines on ships designed to pack in as many as possible. I cannot understand the perversion of nature when it breeds callous slave traders and business owners who exploit other human beings so atrociously. But then, isn't our society perhaps as guilty in its greed to build wealth without any consideration for the welfare of workers in developing countries? Anyway, if you want to know more about the Creole language and the people who currently speak it, check the Francophone Centre this month.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Toronto's Nuit Blanche



Philosopher's Walk


La vie continue ... j'ai mis de côté le cauchemar. J'ai passé une merveilleuse Nuit Blanche, ou presque car on n'est pas resté jusqu'au lever du soleil. Samedi soir, pour toute la nuit, Toronto était comme une ville qui a changé de robe. Souriants, enthousiastes, les uns se tenant au chaud avec foulards et chapeaux, les autres en tenue décontractée, des gens de tout âge mais surtout des jeunes se promenaient en masse pour écouter des poèmes, voir des films, admirer des peintures, et prendre part à d'autres expressions artistiques d'une ville qui bouillonnait d'énergie créative. Suzanne, ma chère copine, une artiste et érivaine pendant ses moments de loisir, m'a accompagnée dans cette petite aventure. On a été très impressionné et inspiré. Il y a tant d'espoir pour notre belle ville, une ville qui donne de l'importance à la culture et l'art.

Life goes on ... I've put aside the nighmare. We were at Nuit Blanche, tried an all nighter, well ... almost since we did not last to see the sun rise. On Saturday night, Toronto was effervescent with creative energy. Together with a smiling, and enthusiastic, mostly twenty-something crowd, some keeping warm with trendy hats and scarves, others in casual clothes, we listened to the clear, melodious voice of a poet reading about her "brown ass", got pulled into a short movie about the delusions of lost love, gazed at Michael Snow's sheep grazing on the dome of the ROM's planetarium, and slipped on the muddy grass while looking at the mist on Philosopher's walk. Suzanne, my dear friend, an artist and writer in her spare time was a wonderful companion for Nuit Blanche. We were impressed and inspired. There is much excitement and hope for a city which believes in the cultural importance of art.

Monday, September 25, 2006

A nightmare

My house was broken into last Monday, and some valuable and portable items were stolen, like two laptops. It's awful, a nightmare. I keep hoping that someone will bring them back, like the kind soul who found Andrew's discarded cameras after his car got broken into.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Art @ Liberty

Image © Art @ Liberty

Busy, busy, busy ... Who isn't in Toronto? The exciting part is we do make things happen in this city. Helped some friends with an art exhibition they're having across the street from where I'm having my photo exhibition of Moody Toronto. Their show is called Art @ LIberty. It's a series of photos, ranging from topiaries to manholes, taken in the St.Clair neighbourhood. It opens today and runs till October 1st. Both our shows will be part of Artwalk, the St. Clair Arts Festival and Studio Tour, between September 29th to October 1st.javascript:void(0)

Friday, September 15, 2006

TIFF fever


Went with Suzanne and Julia to see The Art of Crying at Toronto International Film Festival last weekend. First time I saw a Danish film. Subtitles, what a relief. They open so many unknown worlds. I liked the close-up shots and the use of lighting on the characters. It was a good story, very sad but with its own funny twist. What made the movie special was meeting the actors and the movie director, asking them questions, etc. It does make TIFF a very special event, and I've decided to get a bunch of tickets next year and gorge on movies.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

I love you more than you know

That's the title of Jonathan Ames' book that I just read. He is one funny guy. Disarmingly honest, bent on telling every detail about his scatalogical, sexual, and disease-prone obsessions. He's the kind of guy whose one-track-sex-crazy mind makes you want to slap his face, but then the next minute, he is so tender and loving, you just want to hug him.

Friday, September 01, 2006

La confession d'une jeune fille

Time to get back to writing. That's what this blog is supposed to be all about, anyway. Plus I miss French so much. So here's my translation of Marcel Proust's insightful reflection on the intricacies of a young woman's relationship with a certain Lepré.

Si sa beauté était armée pour le vaincre, son esprit ne l’était pas moins pour le juger; elle était prête à cueillir comme une fleur amère le plaisir de le trouver mediocre et ridiculement proportioné à l’amour qu’elle avait pour lui. Ce n’était pas par prudence! elle sentait bien qu’elle serait toujours reprise dans le filet enchanté et que les mailles que son esprit trop incisive aurait rompues pendant la présence de Lepré, à peine serait-il parti que son imagination industrieuse les aurait réparées.

La confession d'une jeune fille - Marcel Proust

If her beauty was armed to conquer, her mind was equally armed to judge. She was ready to pick, like a bitter flower, the pleasure of finding him mediocre and ridiculous in proportion to the love she felt for him. It was not that she was cautious. She knew that she would always be lured back into the enchanted net, and that the stitches that her incisive mind had cut during Lepré's presence, would always be repaired by her industrious imagination within seconds of his departure.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Bare-chested men

One disappointment about the show opening is that my good friend J did not come bare-chested. It was the condition I gave him for coming to the show since he had called me trashy because of my fascination for bare-chested young men standing on top of streetcar shelters, waving huge Italian flags during the world cup celebration on St.Clair Avenue West. His sweet wife, another wonderful friend, thinks he's going to hell for offending me. Come on, not because he's a lawyer or a catholic? I'd rather not take responsibility for his descent into hell. Anyway, he got in by telling me it's okay to be trashy, that he likes trashy. Way to go, J. I forgive you, but I may get bored if you don't throw another challenge at me. :)

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Thank you so much

Thank you to all the eighty friends and more who came to the photo exhibition opening. It was a great party and it was so much fun to see everybody. Regal Heights Bistro was bubbling with smiles. Thanks Tony and the staff for creating such a magical atmosphere with the friendly service and thanks to chef Chris for the heavenly food. The mushroom ragoût was one favourite melt-in-your-mouth delight. Lots of hugs, kisses, praises, liquor, and delicious hors-d'oeuvres made for a very warm and lively evening. My voice was raw from talking. Short conversations ranged from debates about whether the idealistic wish to serve people in politics inevitably becomes a grasp for power, to new mothers' depression from boredom, and pumping milk like cows, one of the low times in women's lives. Thanks to all those who were impressed enough to buy my photos. Moody Toronto never looked so exuberant. I love you all.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Photo Exhibition



It's a collection of 18 photos showing the different moods of Toronto's skyline, all taken from my studio. The show is on from August 24th to October 1st at Regal Heights Bistro, 1079 St. Clair Ave. West at Lauder. See you there!

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Montreal

Toronto is my true love but Montreal is like a secret lover, luring me with the forbidden. What I love about Montreal: It looks you right in the eye, it's got grit, indulges in whatever it wants, screaming matches, uncontrollable laughter, lewd stares, bouncy cleavages, and all. What I saw when I was there: In a park, an athletic young man in t-shirt and shorts seducing a tree with a wild dance, something like a cross between taichi and ballet jazz. A pretty woman in a restaurant going orgasmic with her hands describing something as inconsequential as trying clothes on. A vision in white jumping from the sidewalk, dark hair flying, arms flapping, skirt billowing, singing away in the middle of a street, oblivious of cars that stopped for her. A handsome man with intense green eyes and perfect skin, dangling a cup from a three-foot long stick, saying, "vous avez quelque chose pour moi?" Do you have something for me, he asked. I told him I'd rather get him a job, that perhaps he was an artist. There was creativity and originality in the dog muzzle he used to hold the cup at the end of his stick. These are all the little things that make Montreal so charming. Oh Teri, you're going to enjoy it so much when you move there! And I love your music blog.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Summer in Toronto

It's hot, hot, hot, and humid in Toronto. Summer feels like a continuous series of outdoor events. The Chinese Lantern festival gave Ontario Place a new atmosphere, as if a little part of China had been transported to it. My favourite displays were those along the lake. It was eerie to watch all these lanterns dangling along the shore while waves pounded, seagulls circled, and the sky darkened.

Tonight I was at a women's party. Opinionated professional women all under one roof or rather all in the same garden. There were clothes, bags, scarves for sale in the house, but everybody was in the backyard patio, engrossed in conversations about work, travel, politics. It was a sort of sisterhood, except I knew only the person who invited me. Many of them knew each other through political involvement or from work. It was fun conversing with four women about how predictable men are. One said, "Yeah, they're so simple. Sex and food is all that's on their mind." I suppose male bashing is inevitable in such a party. I agree that the male one-track-mind prevails at times, but still, I can't help finding men very attractive. We need them as much as they need us.

Apart from teenage taunts (were our tongues that sharp when we were teenagers?), the horrrible war in the Middle East (will all the killing ever stop?), issues about the way the city is run, etc.... well, let's try to be positive, it's still a great summer. Lunches and evening drinks with friends in Toronto's restaurant patios. Montreal again. Lots of writing and reading. A photo exhibition. Toronto is hot, hot, hot, and I love it.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Weekend festival & getaway

Toronto is incredibly alive in the summer with its multitude of festivals. The diversity of cultures makes it such a special and exciting place to be at this time of year. On Friday evening, I danced on the street - it's not really a habit, just summer elation - and listened to Latin bands with friends. It was a packed crowd at Salsa on St.Clair. I like the open sensuality of Latin people, the way they dance or express themselves, bringing another dynamic dimension to our city. When the salsa instructor talks about her classes, she moves her face close to yours, her intense brown eyes has bright dots jumping up and down in them, her large bosom heaves while her hands flutter with conviction, making you want to rush and register for lessons.

But it was great to get away from the heat, take off with my family, and spend the weekend with friends at their cottage. We lazed around surrounded by lake, sky and trees. It was good to be with our teenagers, to feel the closeness, since they tend to disappear into another world these days ... can't get into the gritty and painful details. We biked, played tennis, sang, chatted, read, took dips in the shimmering water, and played Boulder Dash. Who would ever guess that a tweeny is a maid who also cooks? Or that there is a name for a green handkerchief with white polka dots? The best part of the game was making up meanings for words never heard of. Tregetour? How about a chant by trembling monks? Or the twisted mouth of a stuttering teacher? We cracked up, impossible not to laugh at the wacky inventions. Driving back along country roads on Sunday, I watched the sun go down and felt sad.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Ton souvenir

Ton souvenir est comme un livre bien-aimé,
Qu'on lit sans cesse, et qui jamais n'est refermé,
- Te souvient-il de notre extase ancienne?
- Pourquoi voulez-vous donc qu'il s'en souvienne?

Fêtes galantes - Paul Verlaine

My memory of you is like a beloved book
That I keep reading and can't ever close,
- Does he remember our old rapture?
- Why do you want him to remember?

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Canada Day




Squeezed between two World Cup games, our neighbourhood's annual Canada Day parade was a big hit. It was fun dancing to the beat of drums down the streets. Even the dog had a good time strutting its Canadian identity.


Monday, June 26, 2006

Pipelines and drains

If you've ever wondered what it's like to be in pipelines and drains, check these photos of Andrew, very talented friend of Teri (who just had a story published in Strong Words Anthology). The lighting and composition of the photos are very dramatic, mysterious, and full of symbolic elements such as tunnels, repetitive circles, holes, water, etc. I like photos where lines, shapes, movements are not only beautifully balanced but create moods, and challenge the imagination into different levels of interpretations.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Your lynx eyes, Asia

It is your lynx eyes, Asia,
That spied something in me,
Teased it out, occult
And born of stillness,
Oppressive and difficult
Like the noon heat in Termez
As though pre-memory's years
Flowed like lava into the mind...
As if I were drinking my own tears
From a stranger's cupped hands.

Anna Akhmatova - Selected poems - Translated from Russian by D.M. Thomas

Thanks Ann and Brigid for recommending this great poet.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Dinner in our garden

Fifteen of us in the backyard. The grilled eggplant glides in the mouth, a succulent chunk of sealed flavour. It bursts as teeth dig in, then it melts, a sensual journey down the throat. Salads, fresh, crisp, cool the heat. Giggles, glasses of wine half emptied. "With the first child," someone says, "you take the kid to the hospital after a sneeze. With the second one, the kid's arm is twisted, hanging limp and you say, go to bed dear, it will get better tomorrow." Hysterical laughter. The night unfolds. The breeze sweeps away a frown, a pursed lip. Faces, foliage and clematis stars softly outlined by candlelight, look mysterious, yet familiar. Personalities shift in the shadows, searching release. New friendships bubble. Some weave stronger ties. It is a good night.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Creative writing grads

Thank you Michael Winter
for being my mentor.
Six creative writing certificate grads
reading, celebrating
with family, friends, teachers.
On a long table, fresh smoked salmon,
sliced wraps with goat cheese and tomatoes
and much more to amuse the palate.
Impressive, some say.
There's a poet, a story with a bomb drill,
another's life in Indonesia.
One has been in prison in Iran,
and already signed contracts
with publishing companies.
It is not so for all of us.
I have so much to write about
and miles to go before I sleep.
Yeah ... thanks Robert Frost.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Ma tristesse

Ne me demande pas d'où me vient ma tristesse.
Ne me demande rien, tu ne comprendrais pas.
En découvrant l'amour, je frôle la détresse.
En croyant au bonheur, la peur entre en mes joies.


Extrait de Retiens La Nuit (Charles Aznavour/Georges Garvarentz) chanté par Johnny Halliday

Don't ask me why I'm sad.
Don't ask me, you won't understand.
When I find love, distress brushes against me.
When I believe in happiness, fear mingles with joy.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Taking photos in Montreal











Montreal was sunny with a cool breeze. Perfect weather to stroll along the cobblestoned streets and take photos with my cousin Philip and his friends Annie and Sébastien. Philip is a photography teacher, the kind everybody loves. His passion for photography, the way he'll enthuse about the quality of light, about lines leading to an object, about how to catch people in a natural pose, makes me want to keep clicking. It is gratifying to practise immediately what I'm learning. As if framing a picture to capture the essence of the moment is a blissful state of wonder.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Reading at U of T

I took all my Leonard Cohen CDs out. Listening to them non stop, even at breakfast one day. R came down, and said, Isn't it a bit early to get depressed? Then he made his voice low and deep, imitating dear Leonard singing In My Secret Life, but with his own words. I'm the poet of doom, I'm sooooo sad, he crooned. R is very funny. That's what I like best about him. Okay, I think it's time to move on to something more upbeat ... to Johnny Halliday, a French singer who is just as romantic and sad, but with more abandon, forceful passion, and despair. I'm such a cheerful one!

Looking forward to visiting one of my favourite cities in Canada. I'll be in Montreal in a few days. Meanwhile the weather is getting warm enough to open the windows of my studio, all five of them, so the dyes don't bother me when I go on a silk painting spree.

I'm so thrilled about getting my creative writing certificate from U of T. It's been an amazing journey. Learning the craft from some of the best writers in Toronto was inspiring. For friends who want to come to the graduation ceremony, it's on Friday, June 9th at 7:00 pm at 158 St. George, just south of Bloor. I'll be reading a short story from my final project.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Leonard Cohen, the aging lover



Yesterday, on Bay, south of Bloor, saw Leonard Cohen read poetry and sing. Worth the 45 minutes wait. That deep bass voice. But I have to admit I wouldn't have waited if I didn't have my friends Suzanne, Julia, and Yolande there chatting with me. The crowd thickened around us so tight that a fleeting sense of claustrophobia made me wonder how I would ever elbow and kick my way out of there, engulfed as we were in this sea of people.

When he appeared on stage, the crowd went wild. I love you, Leonard, a louder voice yelled above the roar. He took the microphone, an aged man with a stoop. He went right into a poem as if he was talking to us, his broody face defined by long bracket lines stretching from his nose down to his lips. The crowd couldn't have enough of this poet. And when he sang So Long Marianne with Barenaked Ladies and Anjani Thomas, a smile creeped onto his serious face, then exploded into youthful vigour, buoyed by the crowd's enthusiasm. You held on to me like I was a crucifix, he belted out. A flash of passion, an intensity, an enlightened feeling passed on to his fans. How superficial the physical decay of aging when exposed to such spirit. I love this man.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Creative vibes in Toronto

Today, I soaked in the creative energy of Toronto. Checked Contact, the Toronto Photography Festival. Loved the public exhibits in St Andrew and St. Patrick subways. The photographers made a strong and dramatic statement by doing a series of photos which repeat similar elements. Gu Xiong's series of portraits, I am who I am, show proud Chinese Canadians, their adaptation to the Canadian culture emphasized by comments written at the bottom of the photos in Chinese, French and English. Stephen Waddell did a series of pedestrians going up and down a set of stairs, and it's amazing to see that something so mundane can bring out the personality and beautiful movements of each person. Stephen Gill's Lost series show people asking or looking for directions. It's extremely effective, the way he captures the expressions and body postures which say it all, giving the familiar feeling of yes, we've been there. Ryerson's collection of historical black and white photos at BCE place are priceless. From Jackie Kennedy to the Civil Rights demonstrations, these photos impress more than history in the mind, they bring out the emotional connection to that time.

Tonight, we went to a poetry reading of Frank Giorno, a friend of R. The Gladstone's long room facing Dufferin Street was packed. The Lyricalmyrical press was launching six poetry books. It's inspiring to hear these talented writers and to see their work in handmade books. They're one of a kind, individually bound in different colours. Fifteen dollars for all that work seems like a bargain. Well, they're only about 20 pages but still. I don't know how small presses like these make money but I admire the publisher Luciano Iacobelli, his dedication to writing and writers. I was surprised to see a book by Bruce Meyer, one of my U of T teachers from four years ago. When I talked to him, all I could think of was this erudite man's incredible knowledge of classical literature, the way it spilled in the class with such enthusiasm that one had to be quick to catch them all. He's written twenty-three books and yet he's going with a small publishing company because he loves the handmade book.

I'm excited about the artistic vibes I feel in Toronto these days, as if creative juices are really churning in this city, their driving force beyond the limitations of financial gains.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Maupassant, the romantic

Elle était charmante ainsi, et dans son regard fuyant mille choses m'apparurent, mille choses ignorées jusqu'ici. J'y vis des profondeurs inconnues, tout le charme des tendresses, toute la poésie que nous rêvons, tout le bonheur que nous cherchons sans fin. Et j'avais un désir fou d'ouvrir les bras, de l'emporter quelque part pour lui murmurer à l'oreille la suave musique des paroles d'amour.

Au Printemps - Guy de Maupassant

She was alluring, and in her evasive look, many things appeared, many things ignored before. I saw in it unexplored depths, the appeal of tenderness, all the poetry we ever dream of, all the happiness that we keep searchng for. And I had a mad desire to take her in my arms, take her somewhere so I could whisper in her ear the sweet music of love.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

At the bookstore

I was at Book City today to pick up a copy of the literary magazine, Kiss Machine in which my young talented friend Teri has written a short story titled: A secret handshake for the new world order. It's a touching story about growing up and relationships.

I checked some other books, thinking of how I sometimes like the quietness of bookstores, that sort of hushed religious silence and respect for the written word, but that it's also fun to have some distractions like observing or talking to quirky and interesting people who frequent bookstores. Then, the door flapped open with a waft of cool spring air. An entwined couple walked in. "Mmmhhh, it smells like books here," the young man said, taking a deep breath, his face on his girlfriend's hair. "What do you think, it's a bookstore," she said, pushing him away, cutting through the aisle with firm steps, hip hugging jeans and exposed midriff. They did bring a bit of fresh air in the store.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Crocuses



There they are, these harbingers of spring, peeking out, pert and pretty above the debris of previous fall.


Sunday, April 16, 2006

Gardening

The light is crisper, brighter, the smell fresh and new. It's spring. The garden is glaring at me, its dried up plants screaming to be cut, its soil begging to be cleaned and aired out. The crocuses are peeking out, tiny yellow and purple petals of hope among desolate brown leaves and twigs. I cannot get myself to start because it's a full day's work. It's Easter anyway. Dinner with my sisters and their families. Going back to the garden, I don't connect to the soil like some friends do. I admire their gentle caring, their nimble fingers, the way their hands lovingly get into the dirt. To me, it's a vigorous, sweaty chore. I keep postponing until the forsaken garden hurts my vision so much that I rush on my knees, and hack away to expose all the healthy green growth, the perennials that will soon blossom into summer colours. The results of my labour: a garden lush with nature's wondrous gifts. Why do I wait so long? Same story every year.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

He's a lawyer, not a warrior

He tells me he wants to be in my short stories so he can read about himself in print one day. I haven’t had a need for a lawyer yet in my writing. But since B is a good friend of ours, here goes:

He has a relaxed posture, the kind made to lie down on a lounge chair by the swimming pool, to sip drinks with bright pink umbrellas floating in them. He smacks his lips with the appreciation of a connaisseur when he eats escargots à l'ail, drinks Pisse-dru, and looks at women in short skirts and cleavages. His navy suit builds up his thin frame into a slick package that speaks legal jargon with aplomb. Take the suit off and he’s so loose, you could fold him up neatly into a precious small bundle and put him inside your pocket. But you can't take him home. He's happily married. His young son, blue eyes ardent, innocent, adorable, says he wants to grow up to be a 'wawyer' like his dad. Your dad, a warrior? No, dear, he's a bon vivant.

B, go for it. Life is short.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

French movies

This week is the 9th annual celebration of International Francophone cinema held by Cinéfranco at the Ropyal Cinema in Toronto. What a treat if you can catch some of the 38 movies playing this week. All films are subtitled in English. I already saw Travaux (Housewarming). Carole Bouquet plays a lawyer who sympathizes with new immigrants including illegal ones whom she defends and befriends. She hires them to add a staircase to her house and it's a wild hilarious journey where bourgeoisie meets immigrés in a chaotic clash of cultures and a renovation nightmare. Bizarre at times with Carole Bouquet dancing on the judges's desk to win her cases, it's French comedy with empathy for the plight of immigrants.

I also saw Combien tu m'aimes? (How much do you love me?). Monica Bellucci plays a ravishing prostitute (Daniela) and Bernard Campan, a very infatuated Parisian (François). Great scenes in Paris and tons of funny situations and terrific lines. "Someone who is so loud when having sex is only faking it," says François' neighbour who can't stand Daniela's erotic screams. The sexy neighbour then proceeds to make the sounds she claims are more authentic, arousing François in the process.

I'm looking forward to see De battre mon coeur s'est arrêté (The beat that my heart skipped). It has won many awards in France. I wish I could watch many many more. It's so much fun indulging in French movies. It renews my enthusiasm for the language, the culture and I can't have enough.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Prix pour la francophonie

J'ai reçu un appel de CIUT 89.5 FM (radio de l'Université de Toronto) pendant leur émission française (tous les dimanches, de 11:00 à 13:00 heures) car j'avais participé à leur concours pendant la semaine de la francophonie (qui aboutit dans une célébration spéciale demain, le 20 mars, Jour Internationale de la Francophonie) en répondant à plusieurs questions sur la francophonie et celui là: Le français, ça vous chante?

Ma réponse: Le français, ça chante avec une chaleur sensuelle à travers mes veines.

Et devinez? J'ai gagné le grand prix: deux billets Via Rail pour Montréal. J'ai fait une petite entrevue avec l'animateur Eric Cader mais j'avais de la difficulté à respirer car j'étais tellement emballée par cette bonne nouvelle. Que j'ai hâte de te revoir, Montréal! En parlant de chance, hier je disais que j'aimerais bien voir la pièce de Michel Tremblay en français à Montréal et aujourd'hui je reçois deux billets gratuits pour y aller. Ai-je un ange gardien qui m'écoute?


I got a call from CIUT 89.5 FM (University of Toronto radio) during their French program (every Sunday from 11:00 am to 1:00 pm) because I participated in their contest during Francophone week (which culminates tomorrow, March 20th, in a special celebration of International Francophone Day) by answering several questions, one of them being: How does French appeal to you?

My answer: French sings through my veins with a warm sensuality.

Guess what? I won their first prize: a trip for two by Via Rail to Montreal. I had a short interview with the radio host Eric Cader, but I was kind of out of breath from this sudden good news. Wow! Here I come again, Montreal! Talk about wishful thinking. Yesterday I mentioned I'd like to see Michel Tremblay's play in French in Montreal, and today I win two tickets to go there! Is there a guardian angel out there?

Saturday, March 18, 2006

French theatre in English

Went to see Past Perfect at the Tarragon. I like the cosiness of this small theatre. Our seats were so close to the stage that when Albertine raged with passion, we could see her lips tremble and wild fire leaping from her eyes. The backdrop of silent slow-motion black and white movies from the twenties gave a dramatic atmosphere to the scene. Talented actors and engaging script made for an enjoyable afternoon. It was as convincing a performance as one could produce in English but I wish I could have seen this play of Michel Tremblay in French since it is about a Québécois family after all. Ce sera pour la prochaine fois à Montréal.

Friday, March 10, 2006

painting and sketching


I love the fluidity of dyes on silk. It's like watercolour but the dyes move much faster. I have to move the brush quickly and be intuitive with the alchemy of colours. If you like this scarf, there are more at the Guild Shop in Yorkville, Toronto, or The Gallery Shoppes in Winnipeg.




I enjoy the gentle motions of silk painting. But every once in a while, I crave for a hard surface under my hand, I need to paint or sketch on paper. I love to observe people, and draw whatever inspires me about them, whether it's their hairdo or their sensuality. Human nature is so complex, and yet so full of simple moments. I recreate the person, and it is an imagination-filtered version as opposed to a photo of them. Not to say one is better than the other because photographs can capture the essence and the mood of people with artistic expressiveness. When I can't find an interesting subject to sketch, magazine photos are great for inspiration.


Monday, March 06, 2006

Paroles - Jacques Prévert

Je suis comme je suis
Je suis faite comme ça
Quand j'ai envie de rire
Oui, je ris aux éclats
J'aime celui qui m'aime
Est-ce ma faute à moi
Si ce n'est pas le même
Que j'aime chaque fois
Je suis comme je suis
Je suis faite comme ça
Que voulez vous de plus
Que voulez vous de moi

Je suis comme je suis - Paroles - Jacques Prévert

I am who I am
I am made like that
When I want to laugh
I hoot with laughter
I love who loves me
Why is it my fault
If it's not the same
That I love each time
I am who I am
I am made like that
What more do you want
Do you want from me

Friday, February 24, 2006

Helping youth from violence

We were invited by a friend, a child psychologist who is on the board of an organization called LOVE (Leave Out ViolencE), to listen to their initiatives in helping young people get out of the cycle of violence by channelling their energy into programs like photojournalism. Eventually these young people help others in high risk areas where they live.

It was fascinating to hear three young men talk about how they belonged to gangs, watched their friends being killed in front of them, stabbed others, were into drugs, drinking, stealing, etc. The good news is: They got out of it through LOVE, and are now helping others as positive role models.

I'm very impressed by the work of this organization. However, it has to rely on private donations to keep the good work going. Our government which tends to fix the problem when it happens rather than fix the roots of the problem, apparently spends $100,000.00 a year to incarcerate a young offender, money which could be used in a more productive way by providing support and guidance to youth at risk. If you want to be part of a movement to eradicate violence, click LOVE to get more info.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Le plaisir

L'homme est né pour le plaisir: il le sent, il n'en faut point d'autre preuve. Il suit donc sa raison en se donnant au plaisir.

Pensées - Blaise Pascal

Mankind is born for pleasure. It feels it. It does not need any other proof. It follows its common sense when it pursues pleasure.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Night life in Toronto

On Saturday, saw The Second City comedy show, and laughed till my throat was raw. There is something comforting about seeing common frustrations being vented out with the explosive voice and funny, contorted face of a comedian. Rogers cable got its share of abuse.

Before the show, we ate at Gretzky's, grilled salmon on rice which looked more like a brownish porridge, the whole thing topped with a slab of butter that won't melt. When later I walked by the bar, it was filled with men holding pints of beer, loud, laughing while watching a hockey game on a large TV screen. This is where all the fun happens. Food? What food? This restaurant happens to be connected to Second City through a passageway.

The night before, we saw The Boyfriend, a fluffy musical about some girls in a finishing school on the French Riviera, of course looking for boyfriends. It's full of innocence and pastel colours, and peppered with French, with exaggerated accents and all. It was a refreshing show in its contrast with today's reality, reminding us of how blasé we have become.

Leaving the Royal Alex theatre, we walked along restaurant-lined King Street, mingling with the crowd of people looking for a place to stop by for a drink. We passed by Forget About It!, Fred's Not Here, and St. Tropez where Napoleon stood by the door, looking cold and gloomy. Settled for Kitkat, a long, narrow restaurant with low, soft lighting, sat at the bar, drank wine, munched on bruschetta, and chatted with our friends until the place emptied and the tired look of the bartender told us it was time to head home. It was only 12:45 am.

Saturday, February 04, 2006

On books and love

Some books I've been reading lately: Chuck Palahniuk's Fight Club, a compelling, fast-paced writing style that suits the graphic violence in it; Joan Didion's The year of Magical Thinking, a very lucid account of a shattered life after losing a husband of forty years. (Teri, thanks for the recommendation); Marguerite Duras' Le ravissement de Lol V. Stein, an intriguing story, with a cinematographic quality to it, about the strange behaviour of a jilted woman.

Never meant to focus on such depressing topics, but the books were inspiring, and have put me in a mood for experimenting with different writing styles. Come to think of it, these books all have to do with love. In Fight Club, it's a lack of it that leads to violence. In the other two, it's all about the loss of loved ones.

Après avoir souffert, il faut souffrir encore;
Il faut aimer sans cesse, après avoir aimé.
Poésies - Alfred de Musset

After having suffered, there is more suffering;
After having loved, there's a constant need to love.

Friday, January 27, 2006

An artist from Winnipeg

I was told from sshhh ... a very reliable source born there, that some of the greatest in Canada come from Winnipeg. From singers like Neil Young, and Burton Cummings of The Guess Who to writers like Carol Shields (The Stone Diaries) and Miriam Toews (A Complicated Kindness), there is tremendous creativity in minus thirty degrees. My sister-in-law is not only very pretty, smart, and kind, she's also a wonderful artist. I like the mood in this watercolour of hers. Need a portrait of yours for posterity? She can do it from a photo. To find out more about her work, you can e-mail Charmaine Johnson Putnam at: toputnam@mts.net


© Charmaine Johnson Putnam

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Umoja

Went to see Umoja, a South African show in which dancers, singers, and drummers infused us with their vibrant energy. Colourful costumes, voices that belt out with joy or mournfulness, frenetic drumming, and then, the dancing. Powerful, sensual and compelling. Rhythmic foot stamping, hip grinding, pelvic tilts, zapping kicks, and jumps. My feet were moving on their own, itching to hop on stage with them. The drums were pounding, taking over the pulse of our heartbeats, making the spectators one with the performers. At the end of the show, when the crowd was invited to dance, not one person hesitated. Young and old of all colours were wiggling their hands, and rolling their hips. It was Umoja (the spirit of togetherness).

Monday, January 09, 2006

A weekend in Montreal


Montreal was white with snow. We strolled along the Vieux Port, and stepped into a photo gallery. A young Québécois photographer working there: J'aime prendre les photos des gens dans la rue. On me dit que je suis bon. He's good at taking photos of people... Ever since Montreal released all its crazy people on the street, it's been more interesting taking portraits, he said. He told us where to eat and dance in Montreal.


Marché Bon Secours was a treasure trove. I love Quebec craftspeople, that they're willing to take risks, and are so bold with shapes and colours. Bought a few things I don't need, but they just looked so neat and different. Slippers, wallet, another hat ... How do I rationalize these purchases? They're a tiny contribution to the Canadian economy. They also brought goodwill from our Québécois vendors who were thrilled that Torontonians could speak French so fluently.


Commencer l'année avec une visite à Montréal, c'est comme respirer une bouffée de joie. Marcher dans les rues est une petite aventure en soi. Les gens se regardent. Il y a des échanges, une curiosité, une connection. Parler français, c'est déjà plus chaleureux. Ici, on célèbre la vie, les petits moments de bonheur et on est heureux. Ma copine et moi, on s'est amusé avec une telle intensité qu'on ne sentait plus le froid.