Thursday, July 23, 2015

Review: Matilda in Orpheum Theater

"Sometimes you have to be a little bit naughty." sings Matilda in her second song. It's one of those unforgettable lines that I cannot erase from memory.

Inna and I finally got to see Matilda the Musical at the Orpheum Theater in San Francisco on July 23, 2015.  I frankly wasn't sure that I was going to be able to attend the performance, as I had a colonoscopy in the morning. Luckily, my procedure went well and I was feeling reasonably well.

I've been patiently waiting to see Matilda for some time. It's been playing in London's West End for some time on was only recently brought over to Broadway and then eventually on tour. Many of London's best musicals rarely make it to the US (and only the most successful ones get to tour).



Matilda is a little girl with astonishing wit, intelligence beyond her years. Unloved by her ghastly parents and bullied by her evil headmistress, Miss Trunchbull, she resorts to using her special gifts to get by, in the process impressing her kind schoolteacher, Miss Honey, with her curiosity and charm.

Over the course of her first term at school, Miss Honey and Matilda begin to have a profound effect on each other's lives, learning that destiny is in your hands!
My favorite song from Matilda is "Naughty". I like the fact that Matilda, despite being young and small refuses to play the victim and finds her own way to solve problems with her parents and classmates.

Here are the lyrics to "Naughty":
Jack and Jill, went up the hill
To fetch a pail of water, so they say
Their subsequent fall was inevitable
They never stood a chance, they were written that way
Innocent victims of their story
Like Romeo and Juliet
T'was written in the stars before they even met
That love and fate, and a touch of stupidity
Would rob them of their hope of living happily
The endings are often a little bit gory
I wonder why they didn't just change their story?
We're told we have to do what we're told but surely
Sometimes you have to be a little bit naughty.
Just because you find that life's not fair it
Doesn't mean that you just have to grin and bear it
If you always take it on the chin and wear it
Nothing will change.
Even if you're little, you can do a lot, you
Mustn't let a little thing like, 'little' stop you
If you sit around and let them get on top,
you might as well be saying
You think that it's okay
And that's not right!
Cinderella, in the cellar,
Didn't have to do much as far as I could tell.
Her Godmother was two-thirds fairy,
Suddenly her lot, was a lot less scary,
But what if you haven't got a fairy to fix it?
Sometimes you have to make a little bit of mischief.
Just because you find that life's not fair it
Doesn't mean that you just have to grin and bare it
If you always take it on the chin and wear it
Nothing will change.
Even if you're little, you can do a lot, you
Mustn't let a little thing like, 'little' stop you
If you sit around and let them get on top,
you might as well be saying
You think that it's okay
And that's not right!
And if it's not right!
You have to put it right!
In the slip of a bolt, there's a tiny revolt.
The seeds of a war in the creak of a floorboard.
A storm can begin, with the flap of a wing.
The tiniest mite packs the mightiest sting!
Every day starts with the tick of a clock.
All escapes start with the click of a lock!
If you're stuck in your story and want to get out
You don't have to cry, you don't have to shout!
'Cause if you're little you can do a lot, you
Mustn't let a little thing like, 'little' stop you
If you sit around and let them get on top, you
Won't change a thing!
Just because you find that life's not fair, it
Doesn't mean that you just have to grin and bare it!
If you always take it on the chin and wear it
You might as well be saying
You think that it's okay
And that's not right!
And if it's not right!
You have to put it right!
But nobody else is gonna put it right for me
nobody but me is gonna change my story
sometimes you have to be a little bit naughty.
Overall, I really like Matilda, but it was very different from most of the other musicals I have seen. For one, the musical arrangements are very sparse, usually with just piano as an accompaniment. Having heard the original London Cast recording, I was less impressed by the singing (though all of the kids acted very well).


Monday, July 6, 2015

Ziplining on Mont Tremblant

The drive from Montreal to Mont Tremblant took about two hours. Mont Tremblant is known as one of the major ski resorts near Montreal and we wanted to see how it looks and what kind of activities it offers in the summer.

When we arrived in the afternoon, we did not realize that Mont Tremblant had a Blues Festival going on. I was a bit surprised that a small ski town could host such and event.

We really liked the look of Mont Tremblant village and decided to explore further, We found out that Mont Tremblant has an exceptional Zip line setup for some very exciting zip lining. We decided to give it a shot.


Before going ziplining, we decided to grab some lunch. The friendly people in  the village recommended that we try Pizzateria - a pizza restaurant nearby.

I ordered a delicious salad - "Salad Pizzateria". It was quite unique but delicious.

Alex selected the usual "Pizza Margherita". It certainly looked different from other pizzas he had tried.

Inna and I shared an interesting pizza ""Foc Poire Prosciutto".



While we were eating lunch, a brass band came by and started to play many Jazz tunes. It was great to hear live band music!

Finally, it was time to return to Ziptrek Ecotours. The friendly staff at Ziptrek handed out all of our ziplining equipment and we put it on.


We boarded the gondola with our guide and headed for the top of Mont Tremblant.


The very top of Mont Tremblant is all green with no snow remaining.


We walked to our first Ziplining platform, eager to take the plunge in the first of many rides.


We were almost ready to take the plunge! The guides went first, ahead of us to make sure everything was set, including the braking.


The ride down looks fairly steep, so it should be quite exciting!


Here is a video I shot of our descent. It was quite exciting and exhilarating!


Inna had a wonderful ride down too and I captured a part of her run on video:






We had a really fun time ziplining and both Alex and Inna managed to ride upside down!


When we finished zip lining, we started our descent to the village below. It was a bit steep and Inna was not wearing the best shoes for downhill walking. She slipped and fell, hurting her right ankle. Fortunately, it was not a very serious injury and she could still walk.


While she rested, Alex decided to try some more rock climbing. He did well on a couple of courses but could not quite do the very last, hard one.


There was an interesting luge setup, and both Alex and I wanted to try it. We purchased tickets and raced against each other!

On the first two races, I beat Alex out. He was not happy about it, so he beat me on the third and final round. It was so much fun!


Since the Blues festival was going on, we stopped by a few free venues, to listen to the music being played. I liked some of the singers and we listened for a while.


As we could not find any available restaurant seating near the music, we walked a bit farther into the village and found a decent restaurant to have dinner at - Restaurant Coco Pazzo.


Alex ordered a "Pepperoni Pizza" for himself.


Inna and I shared a "Buffalo Mozzarella" appetizer.




I ordered aa "Penne Primavera" entree, which tasted delicious with a lot of cheese on top.


After dinner, we explored the village in the evening.


We had a great time at Mont Tremblant! We wish we had a couple more days to spend on all the outdoor activities available there, including white-water rafting and hiking.


Saturday, July 4, 2015

Botanical Garden, Montreal, Quebec

We were not originally planning to visit the Botanical Gardens in Montreal on July 4, 2015. However, having finished exploring the nearby Biodome, we decided to take a closer look at the beautiful gardens nearby.



When we arrived, it was around 5:00pm and the indoor garden exhibit was going to close at 6:00pm. We decided to go in anyway. I am thankful that I went because the next day I came down with a very serious flu which turned into a major illness.


The indoor hothouse was full of exotic plants.


I took lots and lots of photos!













Eventually, we completed our tour of the indoor hothouse when it closed at 6:00pm and headed for the outdoor portion of the gardens.

We walked past the beautiful Rose Gardens into the Japanese Garden area.



After resting a bit at Japanese Gardens, we explored some of the First People's gardens and then walked toward other parts of the Botanical Gardens.


We found a beautiful designed sculpture of Broken Time


While walking around, we ran into a friendly neighborhood fox. It was not scared of anyone and was not scared of people at all!


We saw a lot of nearby birds starting to strafe the fox, probably to keep him away from nests.



Friday, July 3, 2015

Parc Omega, Quebec

Imagine a park where the deer are domesticated and come up without any fear to humans - that's Parc Omega!

The drive from Montreal to Parc Omega was only about 90 minutes. When we arrived, we though about renting a golf cart with a built-in-cage - the cost seemed reasonable  at $25/hour. However, the golf card could not visit some areas of the park and we decided to try it at the end.

We started out at Trout's Lake which had many deer (though we did not see much trout). We enjoyed the walk around the lake and the many totem poles spread out.


The deer were very friendly (they behaved as if they were domesticated) and were very eager to chomp on our bags of fresh red carrots.


The Trout lake was not very large and the trails around the lake had many Totem Poles of Canadian First People's.


We walked around the lake and enjoyed a nice relaxing strolls, while observing deer and totem poles.


Both Inna and Alex offered carrots to the fallow Deer and the deer were usually very happy to take a bite.


All of the animals, and especially the deer, were extremely friendly and felt almost "domesticated".


After touring Trout Lake, we headed for another part of the Parc Omega.


We saw very many deer wondering around. All were eagerly looking for red carrots.


There were wild hogs and pigs, but not as many as deer.


Wild bison and buffalo were greedily eating grass and many were just resting.



We saw a few eager beavers chomping on carrots, as we drove by "The Deer" area of the park.


When we arrived the "The Deer" picnic area, Alex started to enjoy feeding all of the deer.


When we decided to stop by for our picnic lunch, but we were surprised to see the animals come over. We had to hide our food as the animals were not scared of people and could easily dig through our bags.


At the picnic area, there were some nice wooden carvings and fun activities for kids.



We saw a very nice tree walking course and decided to try it out. It was a lot of fund to run between trees.


Alex liked bouncing on the planks and scaring Inna with his jumps.


There was a nice children's play area with ropes and see-saws setup.


Alex could finally burn up some his energy on climbing some of the structures.


When we finally finished our lunch, we decided to continue our drive through the park. On our way, we saw more wild boards and deer.


These deer were Caribou Tundra deer -as can be seen by their very large antlers. Unlike most deer, both male and female Caribou possess antlers.


The Arctic Wolves were very active during the day. We saw a whole pack of them running around.


The pack was looking at carrots that someone was offering.


We also spotted some Alpine Ibex with their rather big horns. These are wild goats that mostly live in the European Alps.



As we kept driving, we stopped by "Bear Valley". We saw many bears being quite active.


I was expecting bears to be sleeping, but these bears were looking out for food. Some were even posing!


Is this a wild bear or a domesticated bear?



Leaving Bear Valley, we ran into more deer and some coyotes.


This coyote looked almost like a wolf/


Once we drove out of the park, we realized that we missed the Bird Show. We came back and walked to the Bird Show location, only to realize that there was another unexplored part of the park still there.

We walked on a boardwalk and to our surprise ran into a few bear cubs eating carrots. They were quite adorable.



Once we finished we the boardwalk, we returned to the Bird Show area. I was curious as to what kind of show was going to happen.


We saw a few large birds-of-prey flying around.



Alex even go picked to be in the show!


The skunk was supposed to climb some ropes but it did not co-operate very well.





A friendly, neighborhood lynx came out to play.