Saturday, July 9, 2016

Minor disappointments, July 2016 edition

I guess it is hardly surprising that in the midst of so many terrible news stories, the general gloom and doom just carries over.  Of course, news media has a major hand in feeding the flames, since bad news generally "sells" better than good news.  Maybe it has gotten worse since 9/11 -- I'm not really sure.  I do recall that one of the few times in my life where quite a few news cycles were positive was surrounding the fall of the Berlin Wall and the retreat of the Soviet sphere of influence from Eastern Europe.  Not surprisingly, there was a study that talks about the impact of all this negativity and generally recommends reducing one's consumption of the news.  I'm too addicted to ever cut news out entirely (and my work does require some attention to transport policy at the local and provincial levels), but I do pay somewhat less attention than I used to, and usually just absorb the headlines and only read local news more thoroughly (as well as culture pieces, which tend to make me a bit happier).

I'll just try to lump a bunch of frustrating things together and thus keep it to one post rather than spreading everything around.  That makes sense, right?

The day started with just some rain, though I thought that was actually necessary, since we have been going through a heat wave.  (Apparently, it has been a very cold and rainy summer in Vancouver so far.)  There was no AC on the subway, and it was very muggy and unpleasant.  Apparently, this is a major problem for TTC with no hope of a quick resolution.

I also realized, basically as the bus was pulling into Pape station, that I had left my access card at home.  This was super awkward, though there is a way to get a temporary access card for the day.  I had just been patting myself on the back for 1) still biking to work roughly 3 days a week despite the heat and 2) not forgetting the access card.  D'oh!  It will probably be a while before I forget it again.

Quite a few people had planned on a walking tour of Hamilton, which they cancelled due to the threat of further rain, though it looks as though they should have just pushed on, since it certainly didn't rain very much in downtown Toronto at least.  That meant a lot of people were hanging around the office and generally not so productive, since they had already cleared their desks to enable them to go off on the tour.  In my section, we had detailed proof-reading of a report, so I felt I could stay busy at least.

Our director thought he would lighten the mood a bit by sending out for pizza.  While I asked for just cheese (or perhaps cheese and spinach), they went the traditional route of pepperoni and then a veggie's lovers pizza.  It is really odd, but you virtually never get offices ordering plain cheese pizza in Canada, whereas it would almost always be the norm in the U.S.  (Maybe it is some left over Presbyterian strain that feels ordering cheese pizza is wasteful, since you don't get as much value for money.)  In any event, I wasn't willing to eat any of the pizza on order, so I went back to my desk and ate the food I had brought instead.  However, my net happiness for the day actually went down, even though I recognized it was meant to be a nice gesture (and one most people appreciated).

I left a bit early to get down to Scenes From Plays I Never Wrote.  I'm glad I did, since the Queen streetcar is diverting at Spadina, and I ended up having to walk the rest of the way.  This whole summer, transit routes west of Spadina and south of College are just totally messed up.  I'll have to remember this and try to bike a lot more.

Anyway, I got my comp tickets and waited for the show to start.  It started out kind of promising, but it really wasn't quite what I expected, i.e. an honest appraisal of why creative types procrastinate so much.  Or perhaps a more interesting approach would be to take 30-40 ideas from failed plays and then have a small group of actors finish the play through an improv session.  (I think that would have been a lot more up my alley.)  Instead, we find out that Juice, the creative inspiration for Catherine, is actually the voice of negativity that is holding her back, leaving her with all these unfinished scripts.  That wouldn't be so bad, but the scripts that they act out (to try to complete at least one) are really lousy.  It kind of undercuts the whole play when this writer turns out to be a no-talent hack.

I felt kind of burned by the really positive review at Mooney's.  Had I seen the follow-up comment, I probably would have just stuck it out at work instead.  To a certain extent, I am a bit too jaded for Mooney's and their reviewers.  I don't mind taking a look at what they are reviewing, but generally I don't (or shouldn't) take their reviews too seriously.  (For instance, the reviewer said this was the best fight scene they had ever seen -- please...)  Still, it was a free ticket, and I said I would leave a comment, so I added this somewhat knowing and perhaps snarky one to the review: "By watching this play, I learned (paraphrasing Homer Simpson) that violence is the cause of and the solution to all of life's problems, particularly writer's block."

After the play, back in the heat, I actually detoured out of my way to go to the library at Dundas and Bathurst, but it closed at 5, so they wouldn't let me in.  Very frustrating.  I went over to the AGO and saw the Lawren Harris exhibit.  I liked that, particularly the fact that they double the core exhibit (curated by Steve Martin) and add quite a few paintings from the first part of Harris's career, though only one abstract from the end.  (Basically, no one seems to really care for his later abstracts.)  I'll write about that in more detail in a separate post.  This did lead to a long reflection on how the AGO seems to be doing quite well with its special exhibits, but, honestly, the core art collection is just a bit disappointing, or perhaps too staid is a more accurate representation of how I feel about it.*  It seems they only have a few galleries that are actually free to change up the paintings, since so much is pre-determined by promises to the major lenders and donors.  I just feel the AGO somehow isn't reaching its full potential, which is disappointing.

The transit ride home was crowded and unpleasant, though we did have some AC in the car, so it wasn't all bad.

Looking over the day, I know on balance it wasn't a bad day, but it still felt like a disappointing one.  I have to figure out a way to focus a bit more on the positives.**  Perhaps an exercise for next week...

* Actually, I do pretty much hate the old European art that takes up the part of the museum near the Grange, since the quality is just not there.  This could easily be compressed to half the wall space and then they could move some of the impressionists into that space and put more of the "modern masters" up in permanent rotation in the front of the museum.  They really are doing a disservice to their patrons by not keeping their Chagalls and the Tissot painting up on a regular basis, while it is a bit more arguable if they should keep the Matisse and the Kandinsky on view.  I'll put together another post down the road listing the paintings that really ought to be on display.

** Ok, one very droll moment.  As I was just about to enter the library, I heard a small boy say (very seriously) to his sister "We're going to the store to get beef patties, since grandma didn't cook anything."  In response, she shouted "Yea!"

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