Sunday, February 14, 2016

Colder than Yellowknife

Yesterday Toronto (and Peterborough) was colder than Yellowknife.  That is the case this morning as well, though by the afternoon Toronto should warm up a bit to -10 C or so.  Not sure about Peterborough or Ottawa, though Ottawa is almost always colder than Toronto.  Later in the week, Yellowknife returns to its normal bone-chilling cold and Toronto is relatively balmy, even breaking 0 C a couple of times.  I guess last February was colder, but I don't recall any days that felt just as intensely cold as yesterday.  (I've probably just blocked them from memory, however.)

I don't think I actually reviewed Robert Kroetch's The Snowbird Poems, but I am starting to understand the appeal of heading south for the winter, which is definitely something a lot of older Canadians do.  While this won't be a proper review, I will quote a few sections from Kroetch's Excerpts from the Real World:
Caribou, for instance, know how to paw with their hoofs through snow and find silken clumps of lichen.  All the flights to Hawaii, from now until Ash Wednesday, are booked by polar bears.  Don't forget to bring your guitar.

The streets of Winnipeg, in winter, become intention.  One learns to breathe cold iron.  Testicles migrate, along with snow geese and other birds of questionable courage, to bayous and estuaries.  Nipples eat frozen red berries off the mountain ask and various bushes.  This is a prophecy.

Anyway, it's darn cold out there. 

I don't really want to go out, but I have to get more groceries (especially as the stores will be closed for Family Day tomorrow.)  I may run out to see a play this afternoon, since it received a favorable review from Mooney's.  While the set-up is pretty similar to Seminar (the Mirvish production that I skipped last fall), my understanding is that the big-shot creative writing professor never appears on-stage in this production, so we just see all the politicking that happens backstage as it were.  That actually sounds a bit intriguing, though I may be conflating Dalton and Company with Bartleby and Co. (a novel by Enrique Vila-Matas).  And while Bartleby was never entirely off-screen, he is sort of an absence at the center of Melville's story.  (I have to admit that I have not read Vila-Matas's book, though it looks intriguing, and I have put it on hold at the library.  I was tipped off from the comments on this story about a civil servant who was paid for many years without turning up for once even once.)  I think many of us dream of being Bartleby's, simply refusing to do that which we wish not to do.

I'm actually a bit upset over not being able to track down some computer files I wanted to work on today.  I think an awful lot of stuff was lost between March and August 2014 when one of my portable hard drives was damaged beyond repair.  Probably some of this was burned to backup DVD, but I don't have any easy way to sort through this.  I guess I really do need to finally go downstairs and dig through those boxes of data DVDs and put them in some kind of order.  I am obviously really dreading this.

Well, before I do that (or go out into the cold for groceries), I'll give a quick breakdown of the trip.  I got a bit of a late start, since it took longer than I hoped to get the car warmed up.  It was quite a pain, having to switch between keeping the inside of the car warmer vs. blowing air onto the windshield to keep it from fogging up.  It wasn't until I was most of the way down the Don Valley Parkway to the 401 that it got remotely comfortable to drive.

I was a bit worried about missing the turn-off, but in the end it wasn't all that bad.  I made pretty decent time and ended up coming into Peterborough at about 11:15.  I pulled into the big parking lot near the art gallery.  It was free parking all weekend, which was very welcome.  I did have some change but didn't really want to have to take off my gloves to feed the meter.  I did bring my bag of driving supplies inside, as I didn't want it to freeze.

The gallery was nice, but definitely on the small side.  There was basically one big room at the bottom, and then some artwork from the permanent collection hung on the walls of the ramps to and from the main floor.

They actually had three prints by Andy Warhol, including this one of Wayne Gretzky.  I had no idea Warhol even knew about hockey, but anyway, how quintessentially Canadian (and garishly 80s)...

Andy Warhol, Wayne Gretzky, 1984

I also thought these two were interesting.

Kenneth Lochhead, Germination, 1961

Moira Clark, Salon, 1982

While it is perhaps a bit of a stretch, I saw just a bit of Utermohler's messing about with perspective in Salon.  It was a quick visit (maybe 20 minutes). There is no question that there is more to see (about 4 times as much) at the Robert McLaughlin Gallery in Oshawa.  I also took a quick look at the gift shop and came close to picking up a print by Lisa Martini-Dunk but I truly don't have anywhere I could hang it in the house, so I guess my art collecting days are over.

I then had a very bad moment with the car when I thought it wouldn't start, but apparently with these new cars, you press the brake and turn the ignition (rather than giving it some gas).  I find this very counter-intuitive.  Anyway, I moseyed on down a bit in downtown Peterborough and parked fairly close to Market Square.  I grabbed my ticket and a very quick lunch, then went in to see Les Belles Soeurs.  At the box office, they said it would be done close to 2:30, so I started pondering making a short trip to Oshawa on the way back.

The performance was well done, though one does have to wonder about the wisdom of getting all the neighborhood women to help out with pasting in the million stamps, particularly when the winner wouldn't stop gloating about all the nice things she would buy with the stamps.  It predictably ends in disaster.  (I've heard that the musical version features a someone more uplifting ending, which seems like such a bizarre and unworthy rewriting of the script.  I still can't believe that Tremblay agreed to this, but perhaps the money was too good to pass up.)  The main plot is hardly the point as we explore these women and their complaints about family and their unthinking adherence to a particularly narrow and misogynistic version of Catholicism.  About the only thing they have going for them, is that they love playing bingo, and the showstopper was when they all stop what they are doing and do a routine about how they love bingo.  Several of them appear to be on the edge of orgasm (even the old woman in the wheelchair).  I thought it was a particularly nice touch that the uptight sister reveals her red stockings, which are hidden throughout the show, in what is a clear parallel to her fallen sister's flame red stockings.  You can see the fallen sister on the far right in the second picture below, though the red stockings on the repressed sister cannot be seen.  This one scene could well have been turned into a full-on dance routine, but the rest was generally more realistic and downbeat.

It was worth the trip.  I hope that the cast considered it worth doing, after it was cut back from two weekends to one (and without even a Sunday matinee).  I'll try to catch it again if a production comes through Toronto.  While I still think Albertine in Five Times is a slightly more original play, Les Belles Soeurs was very good.

However, the play ended at 3:15, not 2:30, so Oshawa was definitely out.  I also had trouble getting out of Peterborough, as the signage was fairly poor.  To say nothing of almost freezing my hands off filling up the car.  Driving back wasn't too bad after that, but I just don't have the stamina I used to for long drives.  If I go out to Brock in a couple of weeks for another play, I am definitely taking the bus.

So that was my trip.  I guess I have no more excuses, so I have to head out now...

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