Thursday, September 20, 2012

Liberal Arts

The Atlantic Film Festival just wrapped up my fair city, and alas I only had the time and money to make it out to one film. Luckily it turned out to be a good choice.
Liberal Arts attracted me because it stars and is written/directed by Josh Radnor, aka. Ted Mosby on How I Met Your Mother (one of the most original and funny sitcoms on tv, imho). I have also been hearing a lot about Elizabeth Olsen but had yet to see any of her movies, and I was attracted to the romanticized University setting since I work at a University and cherish my own time as a student. There is just something about University campuses and the mood and energy they impart - it's hard to explain but it's almost like there is a pulse of people learning and doing cool, innovative things that reverberates throughout everything. Although I am merely a secretary in one small department in one large institution, I feel this energy every day when I walk onto the campus to my office.

In any case, it seemed like a fun, quirky movie with some subject matter that would speak to me so off we went! This movie has been compared to Garden State a lot and I can see why - it has the same sort of twenty-something, "trying to figure out my life" kind of vibe but I found it was more intellectual than GS and had a lighter mood.

First of all, Elizabeth Olsen?? She is like freakin' ADORABLE! She's just so darn pretty and has such a great, grainy voice, plus she just seems really 'cool' and smart - like someone you would want to be friends with. I mean, look how cute:

The film definitely had a slow pace (this isn't the Expendables, people) so some parts felt a little long, but for the most part I liked the pace. The quirkiness was actually verging on overkill at some points too, but again this is a small complaint. The random Zac Efron 'fairy-like' hippy dude character was sort of strange - like there were times where I questioned whether or not Jesse (Josh's character) was actually seeing him or not - but he was also pretty hilarious. I like to see actors who are somewhat typecast playing characters that are completely against their usual role.

I liked the conversations between Jesse and Zibby - one especially great bit was an ongoing argument about a series of "vampire books" (which are clearly meant to be representative of the Twilight series) and how they "empty your mind"...and whether or not that is a good thing. I also liked a part at the end where Zibby tells Jesse she figured she was using him as a kind of "shortcut" to adulthood. In fact, all the dialogue surrounding the strengths, weaknesses and fears about college and "growing up" all rang true with me - I think we have all been in that place where we are simultaneously excited about the next stage in our lives and terrified.

Another actor who is awesome? Richard Jenkins. He has a relatively small part in this film but his feelings resonate across the screen so well. You really feel his retiring professor's depression, fear and loneliness at entering a new stage he was looking forward to for so long, but did not love as much once he got there. (If you haven't seen The Visitor, you really should. Like now. Now's good). AND as if that wasn't enough, Alison Janney has a bit part as another professor. She is another one of my favourite actors and she does NOT disappoint in this role. She's hilariously cold, snobby, boozy and insightful all rolled into one.

What about you??? Seen any good movies lately? What did you like/dislike about them? Do you yearn to go back to college or did you loathe your college experience?

Friday, September 14, 2012


I was perusing a gift shop in North Conway, NH back at the beginning of August, and as I am often wont to do I wandered into the book section, intrigued by the variety of titles...

Is anyone else really attracted to books by their covers?? Ok, ok, I know we're not supposed to do that, but I can't help it! If a book has a cool cover, it just pulls me in - makes me pick it up and read the back. I buy books all the time just based on the cover and the description on the back only and my instincts usually do not fail me.

Anyway, this one book in particular pulled me in - I did buy it, and am I ever glad I did:

I had never heard of Beryl Markham before, which shocked me, considering what a fabulously adventurous and public life she had. She was the first woman to fly cross the Atlantic solo non-stop, and east-to-west, which at that time was considered the "hard" way because of winds (Amelia Earhart may have been the first woman to cross the Atlantic period, but she did not actually fly the plane - didn't know that either!). In this flight, she also became the first person to make it from England to North America non-stop east-to-west.

Fun fact: On her cross-Atlantic flight, she actually crash-landed in a bog in a place called Baleine Cove, Cape Breton. She spent some time there and in Halifax (my hometown!) while her plane was repaired, before moving on to New York City, where she was greeted by thousands of people celebrating her record. The Nova Scotia government even contributed money to a brass replica of her plane, commissioned by the RAF for the 50th anniversary of her flight. Who knew when I picked up that random book in that random store in NH that I would find a connection between my home and an important historical event!

She worked as a bush and medical pilot for years in South Africa, where she was raised, often making dangerous flights on her own in extremely remote areas. She also became a noted and respected horse trainer in Kenya and trained/competed well into her 70's. And this at a time when women were not generally allowed to have careers, let alone "adventurous" "dangerous" and "male" ones like the ones she chose.
She was married three times, and had many scandalous love affairs, including a long-standing one with Prince Henry (brother of the eventual King George VI, aka Colin Firth). It was widely believed that the Prince was the father of her son, although this was never proven. Another of her lovers was Denys Finch-Hatton (aka, Robert Redford) and they were actually in a relationship at the time of his death in a plane accident.

I found this story of BM's life fascinating - Mary S. Lovell writes with such detail and such respect for her subject, while also being honest about her flaws. Her research is clearly impeccable. She even got to meet Beryl in the mid-80's, spending several weeks with her talking and going through her personal papers and photographs. What a wonderful opportunity. This book was written before I was even born and my only reservation about that is that I never got to meet BM myself! It sounds like she would have been a sparkling dinner companion, as my mother would say.

There are so many wonderfully quirky and dynamic people that are hidden in the anals of world history and it's a shame more people do not know about them. This particularly applies to women I suppose because their achievements were not always afforded the same attention as those of men. I loved this book so much that I read Lovell's bio of Amelia Earhart immediately after (yet another notorious aviatrix, but one with a very different life and character).
Here's a tip from me to you - pick up a bio of someone you have never heard of the first chance you get and read it. You never know what you will learn or what they will inspire you to do.
What did Beryl and her author inspire ME to do? Well, try and track down THIS gem, for one! Anyone know where I could find it?? Wish me luck!

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Falling in Love

One of the things I hate about Nova Scotia weather is the seasons always seem to change so abruptly. One minute it's 30 degrees and hot and sunny, and the next you are wearing 4 layers just to go to sleep in your tent Labour Day weekend (this is not hypothetical - this was my LD weekend).

This was the week of 'the shift' and I am still a bit depressed about it. It's still warm enough to wear sandals during the day and the calendar doesn't officially shift for another couple of weeks, but there is definitely a new crisp chill to the air and just a general movement towards a more Fall-like mood.

That being said, I do LOVE Fall. I love me some sunshine, sand and swimming, but there is just something so romantic and heartwarming about this season. It sort of feels like a new start but a lead-up to hibernation at the same time - you are getting 'back to the grind' while also looking ahead to the colder weather and shorter days. I love...

...that it's cool enough to wear a couple of layers but warm enough that you don't need to bundle up.

I love cozy layers - sweaters and scarves - leggings and boots - cute hats and fingerless gloves - ponchos - rich, warm colours - cute braids and hair twists. I love fall fashion.

*all photos can be found here*

...the spicy, fragrant, flavours of Fall.

I love pumpkin (anything) - cinnamon, ginger and spice - apple pie - hot soups and stews - warm, aromatic drinks - sweet potato and squash - Thanksgiving dinner. I love Fall flavours.

*All photos can be found here*

I can't wait to go apple picking, drive and hike through vibrant yellow and red trees, cook up a comforting giant crock-pot meal, (hopefully) cook and host my 1st Thanksgiving dinner, wearing printed scarves with all my outfits, decorate my apartment with Fall colours and scents, etc. Sure, I'm sad to see summer go, but I'm also excited for what's to come.
What do you love (or not love) about Fall? Are you excited or apprehensive about the change of seasons? Any fun plans for the next two months?