Friday, March 23, 2007

4 flicks

As this DVD was entering my mail slot, our vast dog Icy, perhaps missing his usual Monday at Doggie Day Care, grabbed onto the properly bubble-wrapped DVD package. Is the fact that GOD and DOG are backwards relevant to this tale? Perhaps not. Anyway, Icy's teeth bit into the DVD and made only the first half watchable. I later got a biteless version and saw the whole thing.
Most interesting to me was the mosaic, a panel of squares of Jesus portraits and one other person who then begins talking. I can see using this motif in my work. Very well done. In general, the graphics are a treat throughout. The information doesn't add all that much to what I learned by reading Tom Paine's Age of Reason in high school. But for those who haven't read this classic, an interesting hour, supplemented with lots of commentary. I don't think our species can be woken up. The best we can do is have some influence on our dreams.
Religion was a major theme in my last 3 radio plays, and is something I take seriously, at least aesthetically. My favourite album is the Anglican mass Vince Guaraldi at Grace Cathedral, my favourite building is Gaudi's Sangria Familia (yes I know that's not what it's called, but that's what we called it when we were in Barcelona), and my favourite painting is Joseph the Carpenter by De La Tour so I have a vested interest in this aesthetic. If all this great art was inspired by someone who never existed, what of that? Imaginary powers have inspired human art as far back as we've been human. Like the Chinese sage who dreamt he was a butterfly, and awoke not knowing if he were a human dreaming of being a butterfly, or a butterfly dreaming of being human.
My favourite relative recommended a Brazilian flick, The House of Sand. She said it resembled Woman in the Dunes, one of my all time faves. With some difficulty, I rented a copy from Vancouver's usual source for obscure films, Videomatica. With the exception of a few close ups of sand, it didn't remind me the Japanese flick at all. Very Brazilian. Also very soapy. A mother and daughter in real life play three generations of women stuck on the dunes in REALLY rural Brazil over a 60 year period in the last century. Sure didn't remind me of any Jorge Amado (fave author, Brazilian) novels I've read. The plot twists are the kinds that happen in novels (not good ones), instead of real life (if there is such a thing). Some great cinematography of dunes and such. As an online reviewer said, there are probably a lot of people in a lot of parts of Brazil who wish they were somewhere else.
Along with this, I rented The US vs John Lennon. Actually more visually interesting (ok, effects, not photography but it's all part of the film) than the dunesburried. The images of, what I gather are copies of court transcripts or some other such legal documents detailing the US governments long vendetta against Lennon move accross the screen like ghosts of fired union cartoonists at a haunted Disney ride. The radical detournment of Lennon's peace activism: long hair and longer honeymoon were a pleasant reminder of the era but I'd forgotten what a poor songwriter John was, after the Beatles broke up. One song, Oh Yoko, is about all I would voluntarily listen to of his entire oeuvre. Give Peace a Chance is a chant, not a song. Unfortunately, only non-Beatles music was used. More of a hagiography of Lennon than he would have wanted, surely. Too many talking heads, not enough graphics! Bring back Yellow Submarine.
I tried to get Idiocracy from bittorrent but could only get a version with no sound. So I rented it. Particularly good after the god movie. From the guy who brought us Beavis and Butthead. A world of the future, with them in charge. OK, how could the world continue functioning at all, with food continuing to exist up until a plot point kicks in. The flick assumes that machines can fix themselves, and us too, once we've become too stupid to do anything? Perhaps there's a deus ex machina involved, keeping civilization running. And even if America committed intellectual suicide with only dumb people having kids, wouldn't smart people from other countries just come in and take over? OK, maybe that's asking too much of this pretend world of the future. One doesn't expect logical consistency from flicks any more than one does from religions.
Is there some reason my fave painting, building and album are all religious, but there's nothing in that realm of quality in cinema that I've ever seen that was overtly religious. OK, Lillies of the Valley, but I saw that when I was in Jr. High, as I recall. Never seen it since. There are some Tibetan Bhuddist flicks I'd like to see, but there's little I can look back on in half a century of looking at movies that moved me in the way the said list of fave painting/building/album did. This is dissapointing. We don't need more movies full of people being blown up. What inspired the candle-lit artists in the caves of Altamira and the workers high in Gaudi's cathedral in Barcelona can inspire anyone with a camera.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Edison goes to Diva, discovers Light

First, there was an article in the Georgia Straight about Diva, a restaurant at the downtown Metropolitan Hotel, hence Diva at the Met. The review was mostly about Diva's scientific cooking. Using new tech to do things to food that had not been possible to do before. Our local North Shore News followed with its review of Diva (far from a new restaurant), mostly about the tech as well, and the delicious things machines like the circulator which allows food to be cooked Sous Vide, vacuum-packed. Both reviews really made me want to go to this restaurant, although the reviews were all about the dinner menus. Fumiyo and her friend planned to eat downtown anyway, so I suggested we try Diva. The things on the online lunch menu were different from what we actually found at the restaurant and its paper menu, so I wasn't as prepared as I thought I'd be.
The dish pictured above was one such. Shrimp and orange slices went together miraculously. The small, odd Amazon on top was best left in Brazil and the croquette, though creamy and tasty went the other direction from the succulent shrimp/citrus marriage.

Fumiyo and Kuniko both wanted soup and salad, so Diva split the orders and brought them both each the above crisp caesar salad: hearts of romaine, garlic basil crostini, parmesan cheese as well as the non-on line menu item, what Fumiyo recalls as a kind of pea soup with cilantro and a pakora, an Indian odditiy. I had a spoonfull of the soup and found it delicious.

This scallop dish isn't the one on the online menu either. It came in a thick risotto that was wonderful but too heavy, even for dinner for me. I just feasted on the scallops and took the risotto home. While I was enjoying this, Fumiyo gave me a bit of her "Grilled wild sockeye, duck fried rice, cashew carrot, lobster nage."
Or maybe it's something else again. The bite I had of it was the best bite of salmon I've ever had at a restaurant. The sliver of shitake I had was the best shitake (and I had tons of them in Japan), no, make that the BEST MUSHROOM I'VE EVER EATEN. And it's not even listed as an ingredient. I would imagine both fish and fungus were sous vided in some miraculous way.

I had a glass of Cava (Spanish sparkling wine) with my citrus shrimp- a perfect combination I ordered on my own, then asked the server to reccommend a wine (the restaurant is famous for its wine list) to have with the scallops. It was also a fine pairing, but as usual Not Cold Enough.

"Molecular gastronomy" they call this high tech cooking and I can't wait to try the dinner menu. Imagine if Edison were as much into food as he was into machinery. Maybe he would have invented this kind of cooking gear a century ago. Well, at least it has happened in my lifetime.