Sunday, May 28, 2006

Teshigahara's Antonio Gaudi

After seeing Guadi's wondrous architecture in late 2002, when I discovered that the maker of the equally wondorus Woman in the Dunes, Hiroshi Teshigahara had made a flick of Gaudi's work and it was playing at our local art-house Pacific Cinematheque, my desire to see it rivalled my desire to see Gaudi's buildings before I went to Barcelona, or my desire to see Woman in the Dunes after I'd read that equally fine novel. Teshigahara's film is one of the peaks in the history of cinema, and few films have taught us more about the possibility of vision. Gaudi is one of two people to have hit aesthetic hat tricks for me. Best house: Casa Batllo, Best park: Park Guell, and Best church: Sagrada Familia. His only rival is Vince Guaraldi for best single, Cast Your Fate to the Wind, best album, Vince Guaraldi at Grace Cathedral, and best soundtrack: A Charlie Brown Christmas and the rest of his Peanuts TV work. The ad mentioned a newly restored 35mm print of Teshigahara's Gaudi so I was expecting better quality footage than that which I shot with a cheap Canon camcorder. And from the master of film-wouldn't be it fantastic?
I had a hard time staying awake. Images that glowed in real life on a sunny day (not uncommon in Spain) paled into tedium rapidly. Where was the director of photography? I thought it would be impossible to make Gaudi boring but Teshigahara pulled it off. OK, it was 85, "long ago" from the digital age, but I've been immersed of late in 8mm footage my parents shot in the 50s and the colour quality was better than in this obviously well-financed, state of the art technology by one of the giants of film. Did the colour corector go to sleep before running this through? Tedium magnified by poor choice of lighting, perhaps Teshigahara had gone blind but no one had bothered to tell him? Gaudi, come back! They can't kill you again. Your work is immortal.
See Woman in the Dunes. Visit Gaudi's buildings. Forget there was ever a connection. Well, there stil isn't.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

An Effervescent Young Friend

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Sangria at Milestones

My mother celebrated her first Mother's Day in Canada since 1955 at a restaurant near their new abode in West Van. Fumiyo had been to Milestones numerous times before and reccommended the place, but it was as new to me as it was for my parents. They even had a wheel-chair accessible booth which we didn't have to wait too long to get. My parents have always loved eating out, and this was their first chance to do so after moving back to Canada. Milestones is in a cluster of similar restaurants in Park Royal South, including the Cactus Club (see earlier blog post), The Keg and White Spot. I've eaten well at the Keg in the distant past and recently at The Cactus Club so I was expecting something of similar quality. I noticed Asian skewers, chicken or beef, with kaffir lime. I've had wonderful meals and beverages with this Thai citrus in the past and looked forward to trying Milestones' lime concoction. The waitress told me it was very spicy. I appreciated that. Usually they just bring me the meal, which I can eat only with gallons of something very cold, if then. I surveyed the menu in search of something not obviously hot. The hamburger looked good and I was assured it wasn't spicy. It came with a BBQ sauce, bacon, cheese and a salad. Usually chain restaurants of this nature pride themselves on their unique hamburger sauces, so as to differentiate one chain from another. As my father was revelling in his strawberry French toast, my mother in her smoked salmon omlette, and Fumiyo her eggs Benedict, my hamburger arrived. I was very hungry. The last hamburger I ate was monthes ago at Red Robin, and I reported on the fall from culinary grace that meal represented. But it was still definitely a Red Robin Banzai Burger. My Milestones burger could just as easily have been a White Spot burger, which is essentialy a piece of paper with the word "hamburger" written on it. Where was the special Miletstones sauce? The bun was far from edible, the bacon and tomato and cheese all had that formulaic fast food non-identity, and the burger itself merely averted starvation. Of the salad, the less said the better. It reminded me of "salads" I'd eaten in "restaurants' in Saskatchewan that were on the menu only to reduce the stockpiles of lettuce. To say it was wilted implies that it had once been healthy, and I saw no indication of that. Ever eagle-eyed Fumiyo spotted sangria on the drinks menu cube near her and suggested I try it. The server complimented me on ordering it, telling me it was new on the menu and very good. She was right about the quality. I could wash away my cipher-burger with a delightful combination of fruit and fluids. Fumiyo and I tried to decide what kind of apple graced the top of the drink. I always make sangria with grannysmith's at home, but this wasn't as tart. I knew I detected cranberry juice and the soda certainly wasn't the President's Choice Sparkling Lemonade I concocted my sangrias out of. The wine too was different. The server told me it was a blush wine (in a sangria? how novel!) with plain soda and fruit juices carefully chosen tom complement each other. I momentarily forgot about the poor food, and revelled in the sangria.
My parents thoroughly enjoyed their restaurant outing. The fact that their residence was putting on a vast, delicious- looking spread for Mother's Day caused them no regret at having missed it (not so me- that big pile of artichoke hearts seemed to have my name on it). I've learned my lesson for Mother's Day restauranting- book Way Ahead to avoid being stuck in a fast food joint on that most popular of meal days.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Thai one on

Fumiyo said "let's go out tonight" in the Thai direction. Our favourite south east asian eateries were in a distant part of Vancouver, so to avoid driving, we went to newish Thai place nearby. Thai traditinaly means spicy to me so I stresed my aversion to tongue burn to the server. Fumiyo went hot coconut curry and our food loving friend went hot house special. Memories of flying Air Siam in the 70s and the last volume of Mishima's reincarnation trilogy, after a splendid evocation of the kind of thinking that led to Japanese imperialism, a mystical fantasy where the great warrior ethic thai's one on. Maybe his bitterness at not winning the Nobel Prize. Supposed to be why he killed himself. I suppose there are worse reasons.
I was asked if I wanted rice, but declined. Fumiyo benefitted from her rice to soak up her curry goodness. It was billed as hot, but the bite I tried exploded more of subtly nuclear flavour than heat. I was enthralled. But dare not risk a 2nd. Our guest also savoured his coconut dish, filled with heat in all of its intricacies. While savouring the slivers of red and greeen pepper, onions ands mushrooms, the signature Prawn appeared like a chief among millenia of our chiefless ancestry. Maybe a Good Idea at this time. There are no finite ways of making good things happen to your tongue, and mind is no less mindfull. My cold apple cidre merged perfectly with the gingered vegs. Cold and perfect are often in the same sentence. Pefection does not arise out of nowhere. That it arises at all in our experience is a tribute to our taste buds.
Hats off, etc.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Bye Bye LA -4

Two of these people are my parents. Guess which 2.

Bye Bye LA -3

I remembered the Chicken Madeira fondly, lustfully, nostalgically, obsessively from the Cheese Cake Factory in Sherman Oaks. This time I had broccoli, instead of the Mountain Range of Mashed Potatoes that tilted the continent under my plate. Still Far Too Much Food. My accountant pal Satch said that poor people frequent the place for its massive portions. This time Satch had the catfish. It could have fed a 3rd world country.

By Bye LA - 2

The trip also allowed me to visit my cousin Geri and take a picture of this picture of her and Bit, from a distant era.

Bye Bye LA

After 50 years in LA, my parents decided to move back to Canada. I went down there to help them. The trip allowed me to visit my Orange County friend George, his wife Sanae and their cat Die-hard, who refuses to die of diabetes. Also their large collection of cat objects. In early 1979, George and I taught English on the telephone for an encylopedia company in Tokyo. Thankfully we don't do that anymore. Does anyone remember encyclopedias?