Sunday, February 23, 2014

February Round-Up

The last week of Feb. is here.  Somewhat surprisingly, it snowed basically all day here in Vancouver, though it never got particularly cold.  However, by the evening the snow was sticking rather than melting.  We had thought pretty seriously about going to Seattle, but in the end have pushed it off until next weekend.  While that probably still won't be great weather-wise, I expect the driving conditions will be a bit better.

There has been considerable progress on the immigration front with our updated visas mailed to us.  So it will be legal for me to start at the new job on March 3.  (At least a few folks at my current job wanted me to keep working for them for another few weeks.)  We also were asked to send off for a UK Police Certificate, which we have done, and then were told to schedule the physicals.  Those all took place on Friday, and I think they went ok, though there is a small chance we'll have to bring our daughter back for another go-around.  Fingers deeply crossed that that doesn't happen.  Sadly, I continue my string of having problems giving blood.  It really doesn't take much (in this case a student who started having some problems finding the vein) and I get ready to faint.  This happened the last time around as well, as I described in this post.  So I pretty much will have to have blood taken lying down from now on, and I think my blood donation days are in the past.  It does suck, but I guess it isn't the biggest problem in the world.

I was more annoyed that the weather just hasn't cooperated, so I couldn't test the bike ride to 29th Station using the new path I mapped out.  I am going to hope for the best that I can attempt this Tuesday.  But I always knew that this was going to be more of a March-April activity anyway (and there won't even be that many opportunities to do the bike riding in March, as I will be on the go from the 2nd or 3rd week).

I am finding it frustrating that there are some interesting movies on, but it is just too hard to schedule around my life.  I keep having things come up that force me to scrap my plans to see Her, and now The Great Beauty is playing at the Park for a week or so.  These are things that I would have done B.C. (before children) and probably can start doing again after they are in high school and can more or less fend for themselves.  I mean I do still go to theatre (and went today as a matter of fact), but I tend to think of that as an event that cannot be time-shifted whereas movies can be and thus always drop in my order of priorities.  I may possibly go next week to a free screening of Google and the World Brain (incidentally I am wrapping up a post on Google and art, which makes it particularly serendipitous), but probably I will pass, as I have so much left to do in my last week of work.

My cough has largely (but not entirely) gone away, which was good before having to go into the physical.  I was able to go swimming last week, for the first time all month.  I read Lee Siegel's Love in a Dead Language, and decided it was ok, but not as clever as it thought it was.  It was so indebted to John Barth's work, though I did sort of find the footnotes disagreeing with the main text amusing.  This occurred in Barney's Version as well, though not to such an extent.

Quite a few books turned up at the library when I wasn't expecting them.  I had pretty much written off Wajdi Mouawad's Heavens/Ciels, but it finally arrived.  It's a very, very different play from Scorched.  Maybe that is for the best.  I haven't had a chance to see Forests, but I can see it sort of aiming for the really intense cliff-hangers of Scorched and not quite reaching them.  Heavens has more of 24 vibe, which might be hard to pull off in live theatre (it probably would function better as a movie), but at least it is different.  It looks like I missed Tarragon Theatre (in Toronto) doing Forests a couple of years ago, and I doubt they will remount it (though I guess you never know).  I certainly wasn't around to see them do Scorched or the remount, though I saw a great version at Silk Road in Chicago.  Tarragon is not doing Heavens this year or in its next season (though I may still subscribe -- I saw 4 plays of interest in their 2014-15 season), but if anyone tackles it in Toronto, it likely to be them.  I'll write more about Mouawad later, though I would expect to get around to this in March or April.

I managed to borrow the Museum of Anthropology's catalogue of their Safar exhibit.  This was an ok but not great exhibit.  I was particularly pleased that I won free tickets to the event, and I took my children.  Two weeks ago, I went back to see an exhibit on Mexican art, and this was a considerably better from a strictly artistic perspective.  Oddly enough, they have privately printed the catalogue, so you can't pick it up on Amazon.  As it turns out, the Burnaby Library has ordered a copy, and better still it looks like they will let it circulate, so I put that on hold as well.

This week, there is almost no art on display at the Vancouver Art Gallery.  Just one floor of Emily Carr paintings, though they are some of the best that they own.  They dropped the admission price just a bit and are giving out free posters.  We dropped by after the physical, and the kids enjoyed it more than I thought.  (My daughter hadn't been too enthusiastic about the Carr books on the shelves here.)  Next week, there will be a Lawren Harris exhibit, and that is something I am looking forward to.*

I did manage to catch Michel Tremblay's For the Pleasure of Seeing Her Again.  I saw this today at the York Theatre, which is an outpost of the Cultch on Commercial Drive (considerably easier to reach by transit!).  They have done a nice job with the renovation and restoration, though the lobby is definitely too small (a typical problem of theatres) and the bathrooms seem much, much too small. The production was part of the Talking Stick Festival.  I guess the hook was that it was performed in English translation (fortunately for me) but by First Nations actors.  Now there is an indication in the play that Tremblay's mother was from Saskatchewan and part-Cree.  I suppose this is in the script and they didn't just add it to make it more topical, though I'll probably try to check a bit later.  It was a character sketch with Tremblay putting his mother on stage to show how she was simultaneously a loving mother and a gossipy neighbour and generally a bit of a pain-in-the-rear.  I totally understand the impulse, and have occasionally written about my mother here, though she wasn't nearly so dramatic or melodramatic that she would make a good character in a play.

There's still a fair bit to say, but far more work to do tonight, so I think I should wrap up this post now.

* When I did see it, I enjoyed it but was really surprised that the second half of the show documented Harris's move to more of an abstract approach, which is not part of the overall "story" of the Group of Seven and thus is basically not discussed in Canadian art history books.

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