Monday, January 05, 2009

Canada *Hearts* Barack Obama

CBC 2 are canvassing viewers for submissions to "49 Songs from the 49th parallel" a mix tape of Canadian music to send to Barack Obama.

Yes, you heard me right. A mix tape. They're calling it a 'playlist' but I think we all know where this is going. The President-elect will just put it into the car glove-box and forget about it, and when Canada asks 'so what did you think', Barack Obama will mumble a half-hearted 'er, great stuff' and Canada will know that Obama never listened to the tape and its heart will harden.

And in the years to come we will pinpoin that as the moment when Armageddon started.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

The Unbearable Lightness of Being Unbearable Light

Disclaimer: I have never read this book.

I'm having the oddest feeling down my back. It's as if mice are running up an down my spine. I think it's from muscles that have been rigidly tense for the last three years unkinking.

Come New Year I think I shall capitalize on this and get some massage done.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Xeno's arrow

So, the manuscript is due Monday and the corrections to my final chapter are somewhere in the bowels of Canada Post, despite being sent by 'next day' delivery express mail.

And every time I'm nearly done I look at my checklist and see another 20 items.

Despite that, I'm finally happy with the shape and feel of the book. Now I want to use the current manuscript and rewrite it all from the start. That would make it really good.

A friend of mine once said "the better is the enemy of the good". Valuable advice from a don.

But I'm terribly anxious that something untoward will happen, even though contracts are signed and all.

So altogether, I'm a bit tense.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

End of term rush

What with the life-threatening operations of loved ones, work, extra-curricular talks (attendance non-optional), manuscript deadline and whatnot I'm a bit overwhelmed. Normal service, such as it is, will resume soon. In the meantime here's a picture of a woman in a garden.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

"All of my friends are dead"

So says Harold Ross, one evening eight years after the death of his frenemy Alexander Woolcott. It's a poignant moment in a memoir that manages both to celebrate a life and convey the pain of its loss. One wonders how much of Ross' early death (he was barely 59) had to do with the disillusionment he felt with McCarthyist America of the 50s. Would he have fought harder for his life if he had not felt so discouraged? "Also writes for the New Yorker" had become then (as it is once again) a snide denigration of perceived 'unAmerican' values.

James Thurber's The Years with Ross is full of entertaining anecdotes about New York literati but it's also a tale of friendship between two men. Amicitia was the binding force of most emotional relationships in pre-christian Rome, but the fervent declarations of friendship read oddly to my students. It seems to me that one does not get books written about friendship anymore, nor does it appear to be celebrated in other media. Love, passion, egotism, anger - these are the emotions that drive today's publishing. Friendship seems undervalued. I can't think of any major work of art that celebrates non-sexual friendship that postdates the 60s.
I am wrong? Let me know if I'm overlooking something really obvious.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

A Date With Lady Kaede

Autumn is closing in, and with it comes evenings snuggled up with the cat to watch movies. I saw Ran the other night. I saw it years ago in the IFC and thought it was great, but for some reason I'd never gotten it out on DVD, although I love historical epics.

I couldn't remember if it was Ran or Throne of Blood that contained one of my Favourite Scenes Ever, in which a scheming woman falls weeping to the feet of a man in order to get him to do something awful and while he looks away, stricken, she takes the opportunity to crush a moth on the floor in the folds of her kimono. Well, it's Ran, and the woman in Lady Kaede.

Aah, Lady Kaede, how could I forget you? Your absolute stillness and grace, your glacial beauty, your pathological hatred of the Ichimonji clan. She really is a great character, the sibilant whip-wheep sound of her silk robes is nearly as terrifying as Asami's 'ichi ichi ichi' in Audition.

But having watched the film with its audio commentaries (Film Studies professor and a mate of Kurosawa's) I find I object to the characterisation of her as a great schemer. Kaede does work towards the destruction of the Ichimonji but she hardly needs to plot their downfall. It is Hidetora who puts events in motion, all it takes for Kaede is to direct those events just a little, vanity, greed and ambition of Hidetora and his sons do the rest for her. Where Kaede's real skill lies is in her ability to exploit her moment. When Jiro plots the death of his brother with his vassals they laugh at the easy pickings until Jiro says 'His wife, the Lady Kaede, is a different matter' and then they all go silent.

A different matter indeed.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008


Look at that, I've now broken my personal record for posting. I am now up to 17 posts this year. Breakthrough of a sort. Yay technology!