Monday, January 25, 2016

Saturday, Bloody Saturday

It was an interesting weekend for sure, but particularly Saturday.

I stopped by the Toronto Reference Library.  I haven't been by in a long time, but I wanted to see this exhibit on Maurice Sendak, celebrating 50 years since the publication of Where the Wild Things Are.

But first, I ran the gauntlet of the used books for sale in the lobby.  I don't know how often they are there, since there is another book sale place inside the library proper.  There were some really great looking books.  If I had perfect foresight, I would have not preordered Mutis's The Adventures and Misadventures of Maqroll, since they were selling it for $1.  I ended up getting it to give as a gift.  They also had Edugyan's Half-Blood Blues.  While this is very low on my list of Canadian fiction to read, it was pretty hard to pass up for $1.  Who knows -- maybe I'll run another book giveaway one of these days.

I then saw the exhibit.  It was ok, though not really worth going out of one's way.  While it was supposedly going to cover other aspects of Sendak's art, basically all the works on display had a Wild Thing in there somewhere or other.  Still, I liked these two pieces.

The first is a poster he designed for the Brooklyn Children's Museum, and the second is some conceptual art for a production of Prokofiev's The Love of Three Oranges.

I then talked to the information desk.  They weren't entirely sure, but thought that if the library had a novel in its collection but it was treated as reference, then they wouldn't be able to put in an interlibrary loan for it.  In fact, I just looked now, and to qualify for ILL, you must be "unable to travel to the owning library to read it," which strikes me as completely unreasonable.  There is no way I am going to sit down and read a 300 page novel in the Reference Library.  They are just being obnoxious in turning so many of these novels into reference items in the first place.  While the depth of the collection is better than the Vancouver Public Library, in many ways I preferred dealing with VPL, not just with respect to ILL, but in general their on-line presence was better.  It didn't take nearly as long to qualify to put a reserve on a DVD for instance.

Well, this was completely disappointing, though a bit later in the day I found that I can request books from UT-Downsview even with an alumni card, which is good, since they store a lot of the more obscure books out there.  I managed to request two novels by Bove and the third doesn't appear to be anywhere in the system, so I guess I can put an ILL request for it in at the Toronto Public Library.

I did a bit of shopping at the Eaton Centre, then headed to work for a bit.  Then I went off to see The Hateful 8.  Not surprisingly, it is very, very violent, but it basically is cartoonish violence.  The outdoor cinematography is quite well done.  And I was ultimately swayed by the fact that it was scored by Ennio Morricone.  I really did try to listen for the music, but there was often so much going on on screen that I let it fade into the background.  While Samuel Jackson probably should have received an Oscar nod, the nominations that it did get: Best Cinematography, Best Soundtrack and Best Supporting Actress (Jennifer Jason Leigh) were all well-deserved.  I would doubt Leigh gets the Oscar, but I think they are the odds-on favorite for the other two awards.

I haven't seen all that many of QT's films (and probably none since Jackie Brown) but this was entertaining and suitably over the top, even though I did have to distance myself from the ultra-violence.  Also, there is one narrative trick that didn't go over all that well -- I wish QT could have found a more elegant solution than a voice over.  But relatively minor quibbles.

While it may not have been a direct reference, I kept thinking that this was influenced by The Revenger's Tragedy.  Apparently, everyone now says that this is by Middleton, but when I was in college it was Tourneur's Revenger's Tragedy.  The other connection I was making, and this is a bit far-fetched is Melville's The Confidence Man, where there is a trickster on board a Mississippi steam boat.  In the book, there are hints that the confidence man is somewhat demonic, or at least that is how I remember it.  I actually liked this book quite a bit and am tentatively scheduled to read it in 2017.  If it holds up, I'll add it to my recommended book list.  In this movie, basically no one is being completely straight-forward about their motivations and there are some people who are not who they claim to be.  This was simultaneously the most intellectually stimulating and bloodiest movie I am likely to see anytime soon.  (Fortunately, all the blood in the post title was just fictional.)

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