An ever-changing life inspired by the pneuma


Toronto International Film Festival Review – Part One

Filed under: TV, Movies, and Music - Reviews — feyMorgaina @ 05:12


The Film Festival has now come and gone and I finally have some time to review the movies I saw.

First was the Korean movie, Hyung-sa (The Duelist) directed by Lee Myung-se. The movie is superficially a tale of two detectives who are assigned to investigate a case involving counterfeit money. Underneath the pretense of trying to solve the case, the major story revolves around the female detective, Namsoon, and a mysterious stranger who is somehow connected to the case and to whom Namsoon is unexplicably drawn.

The movie is filmed excellently and in such a way that the viewer is meant to lose track of the story and the case. The movie is described in the Film Festival guide as “A lavish dance of images swaying to the steady beat of an action romance… ” (See above link to the movie.) The two main characters, Namsoon and the mysterious stranger (best referred to as “the Duelist” – yes, the name of the movie), are completely fascinating as is their interaction with each other. Namsoon is loud, forceful, agressive and an excellent “tough cop”, the opposite of everything a young women should be in long-ago Korea and the Duelist is extremely graceful yet solidly strong in his often silent appearances. It is perhaps these opposite personalities that make each encounter between these two characters so intriguing – not to mention the frustration Namsoon feels at the elusiveness of the Duelist.

Throughout all this we are constantly brought back to the reality of the case that Namsoon is investigating and eventually the final conflict and climax of the movie is reached. However, there is still one more twist to the story. Against all the odds, Namsoon and the Duelist share one more encounter together. This time it is a remarkable sparring/dance scene outside in the falling snow under a moonlit sky. The scene is so wonderfully shot, that the only words to come to my mind was “This is what love should feel like…” – playfully sparring all the while expressing passion and love for each other. Then soon enough the scene is finished and we are once again brought back to reality, still not sure what happened to the Duelist. A movie worth watching again and again, especially for the last sparring/dance scene.

Yôkai Daisensô (The Great Yokai War) directed by Takashi Miike brings to the big screen the spirits of Japanese mythology and folklore. It is the stuff of Japanese children’s nightmares.

The main character of the story is Tadashi, a young boy who during a local village festival is picked to be the Kirin Rider of Japanese myth. As the Kirin Rider, Tadashi is supposed to reclaim a legendary sword from the Great Goblin to be found in a local mountain. School lets out for vacation time and out of curiousity, Tadashi heads into the mountains but is frightened away and heads home on a passing bus. On the bus trip, Tadashi meets who is to become the equivalent of Lewis Carroll’s white rabbit, a small cat-like spirit creature (a Yokai) Tadashi finds out is called Sunekosuri. Eventually, Tadashi is led back into the mountains again and becomes involved in the Great Yokai War, a battle against the evil wizard, Kato.

Miike has so far already established himself a cult following for his movies and that alone assures the success of this movie. This was however my first Miike film and even a few days later, I still wasn’t sure what to make of his movie. It has been called by some “Japan’s answer to Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings“, though I it didn’t quite have the quest element. It was probably much closer to Harry Potter, though Tadashi flew with a sword and not a broom. Other parallels can be made with Alice in Wonderland. As mentioned, Sunekosuri was like the white rabbit, though admittedly much cuter with its little cat-like squeak noises and teddy bear-like movements (not to mention that for a tiny little thing it was quite courageous). In addition, the plethora of different characters (Yokai) that Tadashi meets on his adventure seem to match (even outdo) the characters in Carroll’s story. There’s just so many of them.

Overall, I think the movie was enjoyable. It was definitely amusing (I still can’t forget Sunekosuri!), but the story was not remarkable. Perhaps the only remarkable thing is that the story is told in a different setting and in a different culture. Perhaps though that is a good thing, it shows us the commonalities we have with other cultures. Every one seems to have fairy tales for children to grow up on.

If you like fairy tales and children’s fantasy stories, I guess this is the movie for you. If not, at the very least, you’ll get a few good laughs if you have some time to watch it.

Some more reviews of this movie can be found at:

I’ll be back later with some more movie reviews.

Your local webmistress
Brigid’s Flame


This week’s training update (September 12 to 18)

Filed under: Cass' training blog - martial arts, weights, running — feyMorgaina @ 19:07

Monday night, Nathan and I went to the track. I did two warm-up laps then ran 1 mile (4 laps). As I was feeling a bit bloated, I didn’t beat my time for the mile. I did however manage to maintain a decent pace and finish it not feeling too tired.

Tuesday, I went to gumdo class and got to practice my new sword patterns. I didn’t stay for taekwondo class as I was seeing a movie at 9 p.m. (It was Film Festival week. See my next blog entry for some reviews.)

Wednesday, I went to the do jang and helped teach poomse (patterns) class. As I was feeling a little unfocussed and as it was raining, I decided to not do any track running.

Thursday, I went to the do jang and took gumdo and taekwondo class. I was feeling a little better overall. I stayed a bit after taekwondo class to practice some more kicking and palgwes (more patterns).

This weekend, I foregoed doing any running. It was particularly busy with watching the movies at the Film Festival. Next week, I hope to have a more active week. Probably the rest will be good for me. I hope to get some running and some exercise done tomorrow.

Your local webmistress
Brigid’s Flame


Web site update – a little bit on aikido

Filed under: General — feyMorgaina @ 16:06


I spent some time updating my website this past weekend (see below post). I have updated the martial arts section with two pages on aikido written by Nathan Simpson.

Please read the “Aikido” and “Aikido Essay” for more information on this very interesting and unique martial art.

Your local webmistress
Brigid’s Flame

Art as Creative Expression

Filed under: General,Paganism and Spirituality — feyMorgaina @ 15:58


I finally had some time this past weekend to add some more stuff to my website. Notably, I have added some pages featuring my watercolour art.

I don’t consider my art to be great or anything like that, but I have been doing some watercolour now and again. (Read my web page, “Creative Expression for Spiritual Growth” for why I started doing art.) Now, I felt it was time to share what I’ve done. If you have any comments on any of my water colour pictures, please feel free to post a comment to this blog entry.

Cassandrah’s Art – Page One
(follow the links on the above web page for pages 2 and 3)

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Track Running (Wednesday, September 7), Do Jang Days, and more running

Filed under: Cass' training blog - martial arts, weights, running — feyMorgaina @ 15:35

Wednesday (September 7), I went to the do jang since I hadn’t been in since last Thursday. It was closed for 4 days for a special training camp (mostly sparring, which I can do, but rather not spar all the time as the likelihood of injury is greater). Tuesday, I missed my gumdo class (too tired from staying up all night working on this site!), but practiced the candle snuffing later that night and had a good workout for my biceps and triceps that night. So, Wednesday I finally made it into the do jang.

I helped teach patterns that day and worked with 5 white belts (4 of which are testing next Saturday for their yellow belt… oh, I’m so proud of some of them having taught a few of them so far). Then I took the next taekwondo class and helped a new person get used to the class (it was her free trial class and obviously her first class).

After the do jang, Nathan and I met up for some track running. We did two warm-up laps with a break between. Then I did 4 laps together for a 1 mile run. My time was decent and what I expected it to be. For awhile now, I’ve been able to do a mile or a little over a mile in 10 minutes on the treadmill at the gym. Wednesday night, I did the mile in 9 minutes 55 seconds. Then Nathan and I headed home and did some stretches.

Thursday (September 8 ), I went to the do jang again for gumdo and taekwondo. I finally learned the second sword pattern. Today, I’m going to see if I got it right as Fridays they have more time to teach us our patterns. I will also have to learn the third dueling technique and third pattern. Taekwondo was good as usual. Always lots of cardio and kicking. After the class, I practiced my new sword pattern and ended up having to help some taekwondo blue belts with their pattern. Finally, I went to the gym to get in some weight training especially for my knee as it was starting to act up again.

Here’s the list of weight exercises:

Leg press
Hamstring flexor
Hip adductors
Hip abductors
Pull-ups (again military and parallel)
Chest press
Bar pulls (works the muscles next to the scapulae on the back)
Pectoral press
Shoulder fly
Shoulder lift
Back extensor
Bicep curl
Tricep extensor

As the gym was closing soon, I had to stretch first and then head home. I skipped doing pushups and situps as we do those in taekwondo class AND my arms were still quite worked out because of the candle snuffing I did on Tuesday.

This afternoon, I did a mile run. I decided that over time I should be able to do a mile run almost everyday as a warm-up exercise. Of course, today it was a bit of a workout, especially for my lungs (I felt like I couldn’t breathe too well today and was feeling choked even after I got back home). As it turns out, running from my home to Church and Bloor streets and back is 1 mile. As it’s a nice warm day, I thought it wouldn’t be too hot, but I did get quite hot running outside in the sun. It was also extremely busy for some reason on the sidewalks so I kept having to dodge people the whole time. I also had to stop running at one intersection to wait for the light to change, but I just ran in the spot doing knee-ups to keep the cardio up. In the end, I did the one mile in 9 minutes 18 seconds which is considerably better than Wednesday night (though, one could argue that I was probably more tired on Wednesday after taekwondo class). So, I was pretty happy about the time even if I still felt like I couldn’t breathe too well after getting home. It feels good to know I’m improving – even just a little at a time. 😀

Your local webmistress
Brigid’s Flame


Do you like my blog and website?

Filed under: General — feyMorgaina @ 17:13

MM, dear Readers.

Do you like what I’ve been writing on my blog? Do you like my website? If you like either one and have a website and/or blog, please link to it! It would be very much appreciated and let me know how well I’m doing with Brigid’s Flame and Ecstatic Spiritualism (both life-long projects of mine). In addition, it allows me to know what kind of people are reading my site/blog.

At this time, I would like to thank those who are currently reading my blog and website and those who have already linked to my blog and website (in articles or list of links).

Thanks for the “unknown blessings already on the way” (from a pagan chant),
Your local webmistress
Brigid’s Flame

Track running (Sunday, September 4)

Filed under: Cass' training blog - martial arts, weights, running — feyMorgaina @ 16:55

Nathan was feeling better on Sunday (yay!) and could get out to run with me at the track. Here is what we did on Sunday in order:

1) Easy warm-up lap

Our time was 2 minutes 30 seconds which is okay since the purpose of this was just to warm-up the body.

2) 3 laps (1200 metres or 3/4 miles)

We did the first two laps in 4 minutes 30 seconds (a little slow for a half mile) and then decided to try a third lap without stopping so as to run a total of 1200 metres. The total time for the 3 laps was 6 minutes 41 seconds. The last lap we picked up the pace a bit and ran it in 2 minutes 11 seconds. So far not bad since we are concentrating on endurance here and not necessarily speed. This time works out to an average of 2 minutes 13 seconds per lap, which means at this pace we could finish a 10k run in 55 minutes 41 seconds, assuming the pace is maintained throughout the whole run.

Now, here’s the fun part again. If I want to finish the 10k run in 45 minutes, I’ll have to run an average of one lap in 1 minute 48 seconds. This should be feasible for me since I can run one lap in 1 minute 44 seconds, but the challenge is to keep up the pace. Basically, still lots of endurance work to do in the upcoming months.

3) 2 laps (800 metres or 1/2 mile)

Next, I decided to run another 2 laps at a slightly faster pace than for the 3 laps. In total, I did the two laps in 4 minutes 15 seconds. However, after the first lap, I had to stop briefly to tie my shoelace which had already come undone halfway through the lap. So, this time for the 1/2 mile is a little dubious. I’ll have to do another 1/2 mile next time I run and try to get a good time. The time to beat is 4 minutes 15 seconds.

After the track running, Nathan and I walked home (again, we walked to the track and back) and did some conditioning – pushups, situps, and backups (works the back muscles) and then lots of stretching. Stretching is always best done after a good workout. Always warm-up and do light stretching before a full workout and always try to do full stretching after. Lately, I’m finding pushups, situps, and backups easy to do after a run. To do backups (I’m not sure what anyone else calls them), lie on your stomach with arms stretched out in front and legs straight back, then lift your stomach off the ground. This is one rep. Do about enough to begin with so that you should feel your lower back muscles working. If it feels too hard to do at first, pull your hands back to beside your ears. Also, if you have someone around to help you with your exercises, it’s easier having someone sit on your lower legs, so you don’t rock too much.

I’m feeling good about the running. I noticed now, with the weather cooling off, my head starts to feel a little lightheaded when I’m running. Basically, my head is getting too cold even though my body is warm and sweating. I’ll probably need to buy some kind of running headgear so as to prevent my head from getting too cold when I run in the winter. I still need a track suit as well. My taekwondo master is supposed to be ordering special track suits for us, but I’m not sure when that will be so I might just have to resign myself to buying a brand name (not as special as a taekwondo track suit!) sometime soon.

The do jang was closed all weekend and is closed today, so no martial arts workout. 🙁 I will just have to wait for tomorrow (gumdo and taekwondo).

Your local webmistress
Brigid’s Flame


Training at Your Maximum Heart Rate, Building Muscle, and Losing fat


I was just reading a friend’s blog (you know who you are!) and it occurred to me, people may wonder how I am able to gain muscle mass yet still trim my body – is it really just genetics? Or am I just doing something right? It’s simple, really, it is.

First off, everyone should know about their maximum heart and why anyone should train at their maximum heart rate. The main reason is that training at your maximum heart rate means you are in great shape. (Elite athletes can train past their maximum heart rate, but I’ll get to that in a bit). If you can train at your maximum heart rate at a regular basis, over time your body will naturally tone itself and you will not only look, but most importantly, FEEL good inside. This is the key to staying healthy your whole life (also proper diet, but will get to that in a bit too).

How does one train at their maximum heart rate? First, you need to find out what is your maximum. There are some standard calculations for this. This is a good online calculator – Once you figure out your maximum heart rate (for example, mine works out to 195), you can easily adjust the intensity of your cardio workout. Intensity of your workout is stated as a percentage of your maximum heart rate (100% being at your maximum heart rate). Your target heart rate zone is between 55% and 100% of your maximum. When exercising, it is ideal to reach this zone. Over time, you can increase the intensity of your workout until you are training at your maximum heart rate. Elites athletes can train past their maximum heart rate (over 100%) because they have trained consistently and built up to that level of training. It is highly recommended that people just starting to exercise build up gradually and not try to push their heart too much too soon (going past 100%). Here is a good article on intensity of exercise – As stated the calculations for maximum heart rate are guidelines for purposes of determining intensity of exercise, which is why elite athletes and some people can go beyond 100% of maximum heart rate. (I’m pretty sure I train at 100% or more of my maximum heart rate. An easy 10 minutes of cardio at the gym has shown me going past 195.)

Many people exercise for the wrong reasons. Many people exercise because they want to “lose weight” – bad reason. People should know that muscle weighs more than fatty tissue. So, when people lose weight, are they sure they are losing the right weight?? Often not, which is why most weight loss programs don’t work. Approaching exercise with the objective of losing weight is frankly just the wrong focus. (Throw away the scale if you have to!) Then, there are those who exercise because they want to look good, nothing terribly wrong with that. We all want to look good, but there’s a point between a normal desire to look good and narcissistic obssession. Exercise because it’s guaranteed to make you FEEL better inside and about yourself. Exercise is about health, plain and simple. Looking good just happens to come with a proper fitness regimen, like having your cake and eating it too. (Oh, and please don’t have too many of those. Bad idea, if you aren’t in top shape yet!)

So now, what should be the focus of your exercise regimen. Primarily, to stay healthy and fit. This means body toning and building up cardio, and this can be quite easy if you know what you are doing and are patient. Body toning will come naturally with a regular (try at least 3 times a week or more) intense (training at your maximum heart rate) cardio workout, a proper weight training program, and TIME (it took me about a year after surgery on my knee and physiotherapy to get back to the level I was at before I hurt it and now I’m actually stronger than I was pre-surgery). Ultimately, to get in shape and to stay in shape, one has to keep at it on a regular basis and be willing to “go hard or go home” (to be frank). Trust me this does work. Try what I suggest for a year and see what the results are, but you really have to keep it up and don’t be afraid to increase the intensity of your cardio workout when it gets too easy. A proper workout should never be TOO easy and you should always feel just slightly tired, but energized after a good workout.

Let’s get back to that issue about muscle and fat weight. As stated, muscle weighs more than fat, so when one is properly exercising and weight training chances are you won’t be losing alot of weight. In fact, you’ll gain it. BUT this is GOOD! If you’ve been doing a proper fitness regimen, you should be gaining muscle weight and dropping the fatty tissue. But there’s more to staying healthy than just exercise.

For those of you who are concerned you aren’t losing the fat and aren’t quite getting the body toning you want, you need to get beyond the exercise regimen and also look at your diet. Now, just because I said “diet”, don’t go rushing off cutting out those carbohydrates (besides I’m talking about nutrition here), you need them to help you work out, carbs help fuel your body when exercising. Here’s an article,, that confirms what I always suspected, those carbs are great for you! You do not need to eliminate carbs, just manage them. The article above suggests doing what I normally do (because I’ve been listening to my body), which is to reduce the amount of carbs on my non-exercise days and increase it on the exercise days. Alternatively, I also could have carbs the night before and then exercise the next day feeling great (this is what some taekwondo athletes do for a competition, eat carbohydrates the night before and then they are kicking at their fastest the next day). Basically, the article is stating that a low-carb diet is NOT what your body needs with exercise. “The end result (of a low-carb diet with exercise) is increased muscle fatigue, decreased muscle power, which leads to poor athletic performance.” If anything, your body will need carbohydrates (to fuel your body for exercising). After exercising, your body will need protein to help rebuild your muscles. As for fat, it’s really the saturated fat you have to worry about. Unsaturated fats don’t harm you. Regarding calories, you need those too. Remember calories are just how we measure energy. You need energy to exercise. The problem some people might be having is that the calorie intake is higher than the calorie burning, so the body starts storing the extra calories. Overall, I suggest not worrying about calories (i.e., counting them), because you will burn them if you are exercising to the point where you feel slightly tired. Besides, if you exercise regularly some calories stored up one day can be used the next day. So, what about your diet (still talking about nutrition here)? Well, for one thing, keep it balanced and make sure your body IS getting what it NEEDS. This means no eliminating of any important nutrients, especially carbohydrates and protein. The other thing to keep in mind too is to keep your diet the same, changing your diet constantly is guaranteed to confuse your body. Once you start getting balanced nutrition, maintain it – just like you maintain your exercise regimen. It’s easy, once you get used to it. Your body tells you what to eat.

Okay, so how is it that I manage to gain muscle weight and still trim my body? I exercise regularly at my maximum heart rate (or higher), follow a proper weight training routine, eat what my body tells me I need and ensure I get balanced nutrition. Perhaps a small part of it is genetics, but frankly I got the bad end of that deal because I need to take vitamins regularly to maintain my health. I just can’t eat enough in one day to ensure I get all my nutrients (my stomach is only so big).

See, I said it was simple.

Your local webmistress
Brigid’s Flame

Toronto International Film Festival – my movie picks this year

Filed under: General,TV, Movies, and Music - Reviews — feyMorgaina @ 02:18


After about a day and a half of deliberating, I finally decided on the 5 movies I’m going to see this year (with input from Nathan though as he’s going with me to all the movies).

Before I get to that list though, here is the full list of movies I wanted to see out of the 335 movies at the Festival.

The Myth (Jackie Chan’s new flick; a Gala this year)
Drawing Restraint 9 (part of the Drawing Restraint Project, see for more information)
Tim Burton’s Corpse Bride
Kiss Kiss Bang Bang
The Great Yokai War
Lie With Me
3 Times
Everlasting Regret
Seven Swords

Nanook of the North (will be an interesting experience; movie is a silent film but accompanied by live Inuit Throat Singers)
Eve and the Fire Horse (I have a feeling the child actors are what makes this movie work; it is directed by Julia Kwan, a Chinese Canadian director, and the movie is her first feature film having only done short films previously)
Sunflower (probably a marvelously filmed drama; the time period of the movie should be interesting alone)
October 17, 1961 (about the Algerian War of Independence)
Shanghai Dreams (apparently did extremely well at the Cannes this year; the movie is produced by Jackie Chan’s production company)
Dreaming of Space
Viva Cuba
Mother of Mine
The President’s Last Bang
(a controversial Korean film about the assassination of the Korean President in 1979)
Dreaming Lhasa
Dam Street
7 Virgins
(reminds me of Boyz in the Hood which starred Cuba Gooding Jr., except this features Spanish teens)
The Masseur
(this movie is the opening Gala this year; I have to see the other two films, Fire and Earth, first)
Wallace and Grommit – The Curse of the Were-Rabbit (okay, I heard lots about these two characters and am curious to see them on screen; another Gala movie)
Revolver (if you like actor Jason Statham or director Guy Ritchie, you’ll probably want to see it; also a Gala movie)

There were a few documentaries I thought might be interesting to watch:

The Giant Buddhas (a documentary surrounding the destroyed giant Buddha statues)
Into Great Silence (a documentary on Carthusian monastery life)
Short Cuts Programme 5: Genre Redux (9 short films that “reinvent genre designations”)
Wavelengths Programme 4 (features the short films Aerial, Half-moon for Margaret,
and India; it seems to be filmed as sort of an enlightenment view of the world around us)

There are always movies at the film festival that are sure to be released soon. That was the case with some of the movies above and seeing as I can wait for some of these, I decided to not waste an expensive Film Festival ticket on them. These were Tim Burton’s Corpse Bride and Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang. Tim Burton’s Corpse Bride is being released September 23, not too long after the closing of the Film Festival and Kiss Kiss Bang Bang is said to be released in October. Revolver is likely to be released but there is no date yet. Wallace and Grommit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit will be released in October as well.

Now, for the final list.

The Myth (as it’s a Gala, we’re hoping to get tickets to the second showing)
Drawing Restraint 9
The Great Yokai War
Nanook of the North

The Myth is slated to be released in China soon after the Film Festival, but there is as yet no North American release date. For that reason and because I can’t wait to see this new Jackie Chan flick, I decided I wanted to see it at the Festival (plus there’s a rumour Jackie Chan is coming to Toronto, so maybe he’ll show up at both screenings, who knows).

There were many good movies on the list above that I still want to see, so I’m hoping they do really well at the Festival anyway and maybe I’ll get to see them later. I’d really like to see Eve and the Fire Horse and Sunflower, so here’s hoping they wow the audience. There were also some movies I sort of wanted to see but weren’t sure about that I have not mentioned.

Anyway, those were my selections. Anyone interested in the Film Festival should definitely check some of the movies out.

I’m still waiting to pick up my movie tickets. Then I’ll know for sure what movies I’m seeing.

(For movie descriptions and more information, please go to the Toronto International Film Festival website. You can order single tickets online starting September 7.)

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Brigid’s Flame

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