Lively Particles

My early 1960’s vintage Priscilla of Boston wedding dress

Posted in Uncategorized by livelyparticles on June 25, 2010

Priscilla of Boston wedding dress

Early 1960’s, Alencon lace, peau du soie, faux pearls, empire waist, watteau train, 3/4 length bell sleeves, unworn, original tag attached


Google’s ‘Fast Flip’: Not So Fast, Partner

Posted in Blog, Magazine, Media, News Service, Newspaper, Platform, Publisher, Search Engine, Website by livelyparticles on December 17, 2009

Google Fast Flip

You can understand why Google would want to provide an online platform that pairs magazine-like flip browsing with the best of one-click online sharing. Sadly, the platform doesn’t allow users to quick draw content; in fact you have to pull the trigger twice just to hit your content in full for some publishers, then wait while the bullet slows through cyberspace to land on your screen. By the time the content loaded, my mind was pages away.

Once you see the full version content, it’s okay. Now you want to know: is Fast Flip a machine-gun sharp shooter for sharing content with your network? No, Google Fast Flip doesn’t hit that either. One click per social site (Facebook, Digg, etc.) it’s not. What you hope for is a quick multi-site selection partner pop-up window with a text field, and several sign in windows to shoot down after. Users aren’t really winning the shoot-out yet.

On e-mail forwarding. Yes, I have a Gmail account and I appreciate Google opened it for me. (Gmail isn’t my primary e-mail account, but it’ll work.) Non-Gmail users, what happens when you if you click e-mail button in Fast Flip? I hope Google uses the opportunity to forward the article powered by Gmail to market that instead of taking you to a Gmail sign-up page. Can anyone confirm?

Keep flipping after you read/share if the full content you choose is available in Fast Flip. If not, close the publisher’s window and flip through content from over 30 (make that over 60 – thanks, other publishers by most recent (then sorted by most popular) or category. Nice.

Wouldn’t it be sweet if you could merge Fast Flip format previewing with Google search? Seems like a viable direction for this venture to eventually take. In this scenario, Fast Flip could provide the platform and in Search could handle keywords buys, ads, and category placements to big and small sites alike, whether they’re publishers, service providers, blogs or online stores. It certainly makes sense for Google to start with publishers to introduce the platform to on online audiences with a select offering of some of the most popular content online. I hope Fast Flip evolves to become more like its name and improve sharing because it has great potential.

Get Inspired or Say Ditto

Posted in Home & Garden, Media, Odd, Website by livelyparticles on November 4, 2009

Take that, neighbours! Check out the Christmas Light Displays on these two houses:

epic fail pictures

Wouldn’t you love to have seen the expression on the homeowners’ faces the first time they drove up and saw their neighbours’ display?

Recipe Review – Magnolia Bakery’s Vanilla Cupcakes

Posted in Baking, Food, Media, TV, Website by livelyparticles on October 27, 2009

Yum! The vanilla cupcakes I baked using the Magnolia Bakery’s recipe were amazing! The cupcakes turned out better than any boxed cake mix and they’re almost as easy to whip up.

Warning: These cupcakes are super sugar-licious. The icing recipe calls for 6-8 cups of confectioner’s sugar for 24 cupcakes and I actually used over 7 cups! Plus, the cupcakes themselves have 2 cups of sugar, too. If you want to try them, here’s the recipe: Magnolia’s Vanilla Cupcakes. Enjoy!

Poll: Would you use a specialized movie search engine to find movies and TV shows to watch?

Posted in Film, Media, Search Engine, TV, Website by livelyparticles on October 7, 2009

If you would try one, check out Jinni for yourself, or read my review of Jinni, a new public beta site for finding TV shows, movies and clips according to your preferences.

Will Jinni will become an indispensable tool for people to find interesting movies, TV shows and video clips, or is the site unnecessary or ineffective?

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Jinni: Find Movies, TV & Clips You’ll Like

Posted in Art, Celebrities, Film, Search Engine, Uncategorized by livelyparticles on October 5, 2009

The question of what to watch used to come down to what was left over at the local video store in the new releases section. But now the web offers more movies, TV shows and short clips than we have time to watch but no way to filter the results in a meaningful way. You could use a web search engine to search for movies, view popular TV shows on iTunes, read new film reviews on Rotten Tomatoes or enter some keywords on the IMDb to find related movies and TV shows. But what’s missing from the results you’d end up with is a simple way to narrow down your choices using your preferences, and your situation, i.e., you’re looking for a movie you and your friend(s) or family will like, or at least something all of you can watch without someone hating it. Enter

Jinni is a new search engine and database for movies, TV shows and online video that does take your preferences into account. At Jinni, you can search for movies, TV series, short flicks and free online videos and filter your results with lists of plot conventions, genres, times, places and more. The results include a synopsis and reviews, plus other the opportunity to rate the movie and see how the movie fits into their categories (what they call the movie “genome”), allowing you to narrow your search down further. The site allows users to rate and review content and to disagree with the categories that specific items appear in. If you sign up, site developers say your selections, preferences and history of searches will be used to develop your movie profile so the site can deliver more customized recommendations the next time you visit.

Once you narrow your search, you can choose to rent, buy, view-on-demand (VOD), or view a free version online, as the content is available. Jinni‘s partner sites include Netflix (you can connect your existing account), Blockbuster, iTunes, Amazon (buy) or Amazon Unbox (VOD), and Lovefilm (for viewers in Europe).

Eventually, Jinni hopes to work with broadcasters to show you what’s available to watch on the channels you already subscribe to via your satellite or cable TV company. If you don’t want to watch it or buy right away, you can save titles in your ‘favourites’ list.

So far, I like the concept and the way you can browse by genre, mood, plot, audience, time/period, place or praise (awards), or apply these categories to narrow results based on keyword searches. Within the search, some of the features aren’t working for me, (i.e. when I click on a plot convention listed in the description of a specific film from my results, I expect to see more titles from the results that share this characteristic, but nothing happens). This may be because I can’t upgrade to the latest Firefox until I upgrade my operating system (lame), or the fact that the site is still in development. In fact, the site may be really busy at the moment, because I can’t enter search terms at all.

In my Jinni searches, most of the results consist of highly recognizable Hollywood movies, but this is likely due to time constraints and because Jinni wants to appeal to the masses. Over time, hopefully site will introduce content we haven’t heard about on billboards and online ads. Although the results aren’t all blockbuster flicks. I did see the recent Canadian animated film Madame Tutli-Putli in results for “bleak” films. But now, when I search for it again, I can’t find it by name, and oddly, ‘animated’ isn’t included as a genre on Jinni as far as I can tell.

Here’s the Jinni page for the film: Nosferatu (1922) to give you an idea of how the site categorizes content. While you’re there, try your own search or use the browse menu on the left side of the page.

Jinni may eventually help settle disputes over who starred in that film or who directed this TV series, and help Tom Cruise fans out there prove that some of his movies have earned accolades. For one of my tests, I rhetorically searched Jinni for Tom Cruise movies that won awards. I was blown away when five films popped up in the results. Oh, wait, but none of the awards were for Tom. Better luck next time.

Word of the Day

Posted in Art, Fashion, Magazine, Media, Photography by livelyparticles on September 28, 2009

While I was clicking around The Globe and Mail online edition this morning, I came across a word that incidentally describes my state of dress at the moment. The article is Photography, celebrity and mutation, by Sarah Milroy from Saturday’s paper, inspired by the exhibit Edward Steichen: In High Fashion, the Condé Nast Years, 1923–1937 on at the Art Gallery of Ontario from September 26, 2009-January 3, 2010.

And now, here is the word that describes my dishevelled appearance:

deshabille (des′ə bēl)

The state of being dressed only partially or in night clothes

from Fr déshabillé, pp. of déshabiller, to undress

deshabille. (2009). In Webster’s New World College Dictionary.

Shabby. Deshabille must be the root of that word. When I get dressed to meet my friend today, I shall not exclaim on meeting him, “Not too shabby, hey?” and smooth out my tweed jacket with a mock-debonair look and model pose. I must restrain myself because I know people do get dressed and go out every day.

I am grateful to my love for purchasing our AGO membership yesterday because I read members are invited to the ROM to see Vanity Fair Portraits: Photographs 1913-2008 at the ROM on October 17-18. This should give me reason to get dressed somewhat properly, and then see how utterly deshabille I look next to Steichen’s photos of starlets in their Chanel, Lanvin and Schiaparelli. Sigh.

Dog Snatched by Coyote

Posted in Uncategorized by livelyparticles on September 22, 2009

Writer Edna O’Brien on CBC’s Writers & Co.

Posted in Biography, Fiction, Literature, Media, Poetry, Radio by livelyparticles on September 17, 2009

Yesterday, I listened to CBC Radio One’s show Writers and Company featuring host Eleanor Wachtel in conversation with Irish writer Edna O’Brien.

O’Brien is a fascinating woman; at the age of 78, she’s published almost 40 books since 1960 and her speech is rapid, pointed and punctuated with direct quotes from her own works and other writers’ books.

Amazingly, she expresses an understanding of her country’s, her parish’s and her mother’s reaction to her books, most notably their vehement denouncement of her first novel, The Country Girls (1960), which later became part of a trilogy of the same name, for its frank portrayal of the female characters’ sexual lives. Wachtel points out that they rounded up copies of the book and burned them and O’Brien quickly contextualizes: yes, they destroyed the books to prevent their corrupting content from influencing women, but they were not burned in any public demonstration, as the phrase could imply.

They also discuss the author’s relationship with her mother, a difficult but close relationship. This leads into some of O’Brien’s reflections on receiving her mother’s letters. O’Brien describes her mother’s writing, saying her mother instinctively wrote in a “stream of consciousness” style, with precise description of weather and everyday events in a way that made the author realize how much she missed certain aspects of home, and how much the place of her birth and upbringing affected her thinking and shaped her writing.

I especially enjoyed the discussion of how she describes experiences in her writing as if they are happening for the first time to the character, for example, shedding tears, in a way the character doesn’t completely understand what they are experiencing in themselves. She explains that this approach allows her to fully and naturally convey experiences in a way that brings an intensity and immediacy to the event that the reader can identify with.

In many ways, hearing O’Brien speak feels hearing my own thoughts, in a way that’s completely clear and understood. She’s a wonderful speaker; her observations are astute and express the feeling of the events and emotions in a way that makes me feel kindred to her in a way. There are few people in the world I’ve met who I have a such a feeling of connection in conversation and real understanding and for me, hearing her speak felt similar to speaking with these close friends, people I may not speak to regularly, but who I think of everyday, and who can call up at any time and almost immediately come back to my life and still feel as close to me at the end of the conversation as if we’d spoken the day before, or as if we’d talked every day since the time we last talked.

Nearing the end of the interview, Wachtel and O’Brien discuss Byron, the subject of O’Brien’s latest book, the biography Byron in Love. I must read that book!

Writers & Company on CBC Radio One
First aired on Sunday September 13, 2009 at 2pm
download the program or subscribe via iTunes (click the link to open episode list, then click iTunes icon to for the program to launch iTunes).

Note: Unfortunately, the link expires four weeks from the airdate

In the Zoo

Posted in Photography by livelyparticles on September 8, 2009

I took my four year old niece to the Toronto Zoo on Saturday. The highlight of our trip for me was being on display “in the Zoo”. As you can see, I felt the need to perform for the people staring at us from outside. My niece wasn’t aware we were part of the exhibit at the moment this picture was taken. But when I look over the other pictures, she’s aware of the camera and she poses with a broad smile and leans forward and holds for the flash.

In the Zoo

Smiling for the camera must be one of the first things we learn. Is it ironic one of the first things we learn to do is look like we’re having the most wonderful time as soon as a camera points in our direction? I usually am having a fairly good time, so it’s not necessarily forced. But then, it sometimes seems more important to preserve a happy forever than really enjoying the moment.

That’s why I like to zoom in from across the room when I take pictures hoping my subjects aren’t aware. I recently saw a series of photos of Marilyn Monroe taken in 1957 by Richard Avedon. My favourite moment by far was one frame Avedon took when she was waiting on the set, standing by deflated and vulnerable. She looks weary to her soul of life, while only moments before or moments later, depending on when the photo was taken, she flashed her signature seductive smile. I like this photo because it’s a rare glimpse of a woman who was always acting whenever anyone was looking. I wonder how many of us are acting out our lives for the cameras we imagine are following us, and the online world we recreate ourselves in.

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