Noye's Fludde On A Gloomy Saturday Afternoon.
Saturday, June 30, 2012
In an otherwise melancholy week of gloomy weather today’s rainy Saturday brought some happy events. For one Lauren Elizabeth Stewart, who was 10 last Wednesday came for the day and is planning on having a sleepover. She brought with her, a brand new portable Dirt Devil vacuum cleaner. She requested it for her birthday. Last night we were informed by her mother that we were supposed to make a list of stuff that needed cleaning. Rosemary had her vacuum the kitchen drawers.
After our lunch soup Lauren and I went to the Park Theatre to see the most perfect gloomy and rainy Saturday afternoon film, Moonlight Kingdom
. Besides being intelligently made and featuring no animated characters or violent special effects (excepting and arrowed and extremely dead small dog and a wound on an aggressive boy scout that just missed his artery and caused by a pair of small lefty scissors) what could possibly be better than a movie featuring Benjamin Britten’s The Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra, Op 34
. And also excerpts from his 1957 opera Noye's Fludde
(Noah’s Flood) based on an edition by Alfred W. Pollard an early 15th-century mystery play from the Chester Mystery Cycle. Op 59 written to be performed in a church or a large hall — but not in a theatre (Britten's request) — by a cast primarily of amateurs. In fact the film adheres to Britten’s special request!
We shared the Park with a select group of a dozen people (no more). We returned home where I took some snaps of Lauren with her Dirt Devil. Tonight we are going to eat some Chinese food at our favourite haunt on Robson, The Next Noodle Bar.
All in all I could not have asked for a more perfect and happy Saturday afternoon.
Friday, June 29, 2012
|Christopher Marlowe - Christopher Gaze|
One of the pleasures of living in Vancouver is having the certainty that I will experience four Shakespeare plays every year. There are not too many cities in the world that can boast about that. And consider that the experience is pretty close to what it might have been during Shakespeare’s time since the Bard on the Beach tents while covering us from the wetter parts of Vancouver weather, they are not in a theatre proper and blankets are required most of the time.
In fact thanks to Chrisopher Gaze’s Bard on the Beach I might have to indulge in a pleasure (the purpose is medicinal as I would want to relieve my arthritis which flares up with humid cold) that I have avoided for years because I don’t drink. I have admired those hip hugging (an curved at that to the specifications of one’s behind) pewter hip flasks for years. But the idea of filling them with iced tea or anything but spirits seemed anathema to me. I have since discovered the delights of a good Calvados
So next time I go to a Bard on the Beach play, please do not observe my behind. I will surely have a flask tucked somewhere.
This pleasure of experiencing Shakespeare (at the very least hearing his wonderful lines, and the very best, (as per usual with things Bard on the Beach) having excellent actors recite them) is one that I savour and treasure. I like to read my Harold Bloom in preparation for a play. Many times I take the big thick book with me. Bloom says Shakespeare made us the humans we are today. By this he means that we are more human because of Shakespeare. I feel that by attending my Shakespeare plays I become just that, more human.
In one of his last pieces at the Vancouver Sun
our venerable and much liked (and now missed) theatre critic, Peter Birnie
mentioned that as usual no Jessie Awards
had been handed out to the folks of Bard on the Beach at Vanier Park.
I would like to explain here that those folks need not do more kite flying in despair at not winning prizes. They need not plunk Othello
in Mumbai or convert Shylock into a Scottish tight wad. All they have to do is assure us that we will get our Shakespeare every year with the excellent cast of actors and directors that they have now. The awards can go to the avant-garde and we do need avant-garde plays in this city. But we must remain human, too. And for that we must have our Shakespeare.
Just a couple of days ago I spotted a beautiful English Rose, Rosa
‘Christopher Marlowe’ at Thomas Hobb’s Southlands Nursery (where I can always be pleasantly surprised by something)
. This rose features a beautiful scent and an unusual multi colouring. As the rose opens it reveals a little green centre. Could Marlowe have had green eyes while I think that he was indeed murdered, some say assasinated, with a stab in one of his eyes?
|English Rose, Rosa 'Christopher Marlowe'|
David Austin the Shropshire rose grower who created this rose says of it:
This rose is of a colour not usually associated with English Roses: an intense orange-red, paling a little to salmon-pink on the outer petals as the flower ages. We need all colours if we are to fulfil all the requirements of the garden. ‘Christopher Marlowe’ should be useful whenever a bright splash of red is required. The flowers are rosette-shaped; the outer petals reflexing a little. The growth is short but very vigorous, with numerous stems arising from the base and later branching to give a continuous flow of flowers. The result is a free-flowering, nicely rounded shrub. There is a pleasing Tea fragrance, with a hint of lemon. Very healthy. 3 ft. x 3 ft. Christopher Marlowe is a well known playwright and contemporary of William Shakespeare. He pressed a rose bud in a book as a mark of friendship to a friend with whom he had had an argument.
I had to buy the rose once Rosemary told me she liked it and thought it an unusual colour. I did not press and tell her that there was a lot of orange in Marlowe. Rosemary dislikes orange.
Today I wondered how long it would take me to find a connection between the rose, Chrisopher Marlowe the man and his contemporary William Shakespeare. It was also evident that I had three Christophers here.
It didn’t take long (thank you Google and Wikipedia) to find citations of Marlowe plays and poems in Shakespeare plays. And I immediately found a connection between both the contemporary Christophers and the word rose.
Not here, in its entirety, is a lesser known fact that my fave Argentine poet, Jorge Luís Borges wrote an introduction to a compilation of works by Shakespeare, translated into Spanish in 1980. In his introduction Borges poked fun at Shakespeare’s lack of a degree (an ingenious layman, no more and no less!) and that Christopher Marlowe studied at Cambridge, from where he received a bachelor’s degree and a Magister Artium (MA!).
Here are the Shakespeare citations on Marlowe:
Dead Shepherd, now I find thy saw of might, 'Who ever loved that loved not at first sight?'
Shakespeare, As You Like It
A line from Christopher Marlowe’s Hero and Leander
When a man's verses cannot be understood, nor a man's good wit seconded with the forward child, understanding, it strikes a man more dead than a great reckoning in a little room.
William Shakespeare, As You Like It
To shallow rivers, to whose falls
Melodious birds sings madrigals;
There will we make our peds of roses,
And a thousand fragrant posies.
The Merry Wives of Windsor, A Welsh pronunciation from Christopher Marlowe's The Passionate Shepherd to his Love.
The Passionate Shepherd to His Love
Come live with me and be my love,
And we will all the pleasures prove
That valleys, groves, hills, and fields,
Woods, or steepy mountain yields.
And we will sit upon rocks,
Seeing the shepherds feed their flocks,
By shallow rivers to whose falls
Melodious birds sing madrigals.
And I will make thee beds of roses
And a thousand fragrant poises,
A cap of flowers, and a kirtle
Embroidered all with leaves of myrtle;
A gown made of the finest wool
Which from our pretty lambs we pull;
Fair lined slippers for the cold,
With buckles of the purest gold;
A belt of straw and ivy buds,
With coral clasps and amber studs;
And if these pleasures may thee move,
Come live with me, and be my love.
The shepherds's swains shall dance and sing
For thy delight each May morning:
If these delights thy mind may move,
Then live with me and be my love.
Christopher Marlowe 1599
A Powerless Maggie Langrick & Peter Birnie Takes His Leave
Thursday, June 28, 2012
|Margaret Langrick, 15|
My granddaughter Rebecca, 14, and I attended the opening performance of the Arts Club Theatre production of Xanadu
directed by Dean Paul Gibson on Thursday evening. The musical (I have been told I was lucky to have never seen the film) was an entertaining romp which from our vantage point on second row gave us sound and action up very close. An added bonus came from the fact that sitting on my left was Bridget Esler who played ever so precociously Dinah’s sister in the Arts Club Theatre version of High Society
directed by Bill Millerd.
I asked Esler, who was with her mother, if she was 15 or 16. I was astounded that a young girl with such presence was only 12. This presence peaked my granddaughter’s interest who then asked her about her schooling. I enquired if she played a musical instrument (remembering how Jennifer Lines had pulled that accordion from under the sofa and played it so well to my amazement in High Society). Esler plays the flute. We discussed how actors (and yes, for this oldie, actresses!) in Vancouver have to know how to act, sing, dance, move heavy furniture, roller blade, and in some cases master the musical saw as Sarah Donald did in Margaret Atwood’s The Penelopiad
Talking to Esler made me realize how the arts (especially dance and theatre) make performers well rounded individuals (sound minds in sound bodies) so Bill Millerd’s usually funny pre-show talk (my Rebecca loves them) was bittersweet this time around. It seems that the Vancouver Sun’s drama critic was to leave his job on Friday and Xanadu was to be his last review (and it was a glowing one at that!). The audience clapped at the news. I looked at Esler and commented, “We should be crying.” She understood and agreed. It is perhaps logical that the 12-year old would understand, after all she is in the business and logical that my granddaughter at age 14 would not understand the terrible consequence of the Vancouver Sun’s shrinking presence in the arts. It was only a week ago that we found out that Kevin Griffin (dance and visual arts) was shifted back into a straight reporting beat and he will no longer be covering dance and the visual arts.
Some here might blame Vancouver Sun
Arts Editor Margaret Langrick (of My American Cousin fame). The fact is that she is powerless as the parent company of the Vancouver Sun; Post Media is bleeding red ink and even had to sell its Toronto headquarters (around 24 million) to pay bills.
It is not an over pessimistic prediction for me to state that the Vancouver Sun might (in the heels of some American newspapers) publish fewer days of the week. Who remembers that the Vancouver Province
at one time had an arts critic (Art Perry) and a theatre critic Jerry Wasserman?
For anybody (fewer these days) who might read the Vancouver Sun it would be pretty obvious that the Arts Club Theatre Company invests many advertising dollars there. Again for those who might say that the Vancouver Sun’s policy to shrink its arts coverage is the killing of the golden goose, the amount of money that it takes to produce a hard copy newspaper does not represent good business practice any more. And nobody has yet to figure out how to make money from an on-line newspaper.
More depressing still was my one hour conversation with a former reporter of the Vancouver Sun who told me that (he, she) attended a recent performance of a wonderful Russian ballet troupe that brought its own orchestra. The production was adequately previewed in the Vancouver Sun. Yet many friends of the former reporter did not know of the performance and were very sorry to have missed something that good. This made the reporter come to the realization that the former clout of our city’s premier newspaper is not there. People do not read it.
It is my belief that the only way that arts coverage can progress in the city is with an arts web presence put out by an editor and writers (all paid well). This web page would be linked and have links to all the web pages of the various arts organizations in town.
If enough buzz were to be generated by this web page, perhaps the radio stations (and especially the CBC whose arts coverage has declined since Paul Grant retired) and TV stations will get on the bandwagon.
After all if the arts can produce a precocious and multi talented Bridget Esler not to mention all those wonderful dancers that graduate from Artemis Gordon’s Arts Umbrella dance program, we must turn off our TVs and shut down our computers and enjoy the varied arts that our Vancouver has to offer.
I have a feeling that when I photographed Margaret Langrick so many years ago she too was, at age 15, as promising a young artist as Bridget Esler is now.
Xanadu, Jupiter & Hermes With False Eylashes
Wednesday, June 27, 2012
I got a brand new pair of roller skates,
You got a brand new key.
I think that we should get together and try them out, to see ...
|Dean Paul Gibson|
A few months ago I ran into two people I knew at the airport. I was on my way to Austin; they were headed to an undisclosed location in Florida. She is a well known Vancouver based dramaturg. He is a well known actor/director. Since I know about the couple’s professionalism I suspected the trip had something to do with theatre. I was not to confirm this knowledge until my granddaughter Rebecca, 14 and I attended the opening performance of the Arts Club Theatre production of Xanadu
(directed by Dean Paul Gibson) tonight at the Granville Island Stage.
I must confess here that I never saw the 1980 film with Olivia Newton-John which in spite of having Gene Kelly in the cast is considered to be a stinker. In 1980 I was a fan of punk. I was a groupie in the alternative music scene in Vancouver. I was on a first-name basis with Igor the Smilin’ Buddha’s doorman. I may be one of a handful of persons who ever saw Lincoln Clarke’s Fifty Per Cent Off
band perform there.
The idea that anybody, iand especially in the case of the film director, Robert Greenwald would ever make a film in which the principal actors wear skates is something that to this Argentine-born blogger represents ample proof that Alejo Carpentier did not indeed invent magic realism. Some Dubuque, Iowa resident of Hollywood is probably to blame.
My experience with skates is one that shares parallel times with my black Raleigh, single speed bicycle. My skates needed a key to tighten the metal grips (in the front of the skates) that tended to ruin whatever pair of shoes I wore. It is because I am of the generation of the skate key that I was able to enjoy the performance (my first ever of watching a woman on stage wearing skates) of an ecdysiast, at the former Marble Arch Hotel, who complemented her pair of old-style skates with a chest that resembled the engine cowlings of a WWII B-24 Liberator bomber. She removed all of what she was wearing (but not the skates) to Melanie’s tune Brand New Key.
I went to tonight’s performance with trepidation. While straight I have always preferred male Australian tennis players to female Australian singers or even that male group that sang in that awful falsetto. But then I must reveal here that my favourite Greek god is Athena. She was the only snob in that olympic pantheon of idiots.
But tonight’s performance was so much fun (but did not change my mind that those hilarious Greek gods were all idiots) that I might just be tempted to rent the 1980 film on DVD.
From the opening of the musical I was busy (we were sitting at the second row, down there!) I became obsessed in trying to find out if Vincent Tong (as Thalia, one of the three graces goddess of festivity and banquets) and the beautifully made up (those eyes!) J. Cameron Barnett who played Terpsichore the siren of dance, were wearing any underwear under those short togas. I will not reveal my findings here.
From my vantage point at the second row (down there) I came to realize that some of the former pleasures of the Marble Arch's Brand New Key performance were in evidence here, as with the exception of the two muses mentioned above, the rest, Stephanie Liatopoulos (Erato), Bonnie Panych (Calliope), Caitlin Stadnyk (Euterpe) and Beatrice Zeilinger (Melpomene), and of course, too, Marlie Colins, who plays Kira, the Muse almost turned human and sporting a wonderfully fake Ausie accent, were out to prove that inflation has indeed affected Greece of late.
The musical was lots of fun, Marlie Collins and her soon to be beau, Gaelan Beatty (Sonny) were just right and they skated (even backwards), sang and produced lots of electricity. But I was most charmed by Simon Webb who played a crusty Zeus and Danny ,the rich real estate man (the Gene Kelly role in the film), and could not only dance to perfection but also sang to my satisfaction. My only recommendation is that he get clarinet playing lessons pronto from Dal Richards and perhaps stop wearing ties around his head.
Rebekka Sorensen, the Costume Designer, apparently had enough money for underwear (spoiler alert!) after she spent most of it in lavishly producing the most dazzling Hermes (not enough money for a Hermes handbag) and a most elegant Centaur. She must reveal to us what brand of false eyelashes her Centaur, Hermes and Terpsichore (J. Cameron Barnett) sported with such flickering abandon.
In a trend that I must applaud I must point out that every one of the musicals that I have seen in the last few year’s at different Arts Club Theatre venues, have had first rate musical ensembles. Tonight’s The Band included Bill Sample on keyboards, Laurence Mollerup on bass, Andreas Schuld on guitar and Randall Stoll on drums. That guitar was superb and even though the music was composed by Jeff Lynne & John Farrar there was some channeling of Lenny Kaye by Schuld. that compensated just right.
Why did I like this musical (and my granddaughter did too)? There is a simple answer. That man I ran into at the airport (I will not reveal the identity of the very elegant, dark haired female dramaturg who lives not far from the Stanley) was on his way for some consultation in Jupiter, Florida. A famous female lives in Jupiter and while she is Australian, I know she does not play tennis. The man must have received some very good advice (or perhaps in his intelligence he rejected it). The fact is that Xanadu plainly reminds me that one of the funniest actors in town is Dean Paul Gibson and he is transferring all that talent into direction. Our loss of Gibson as an actor is our gain of Gibson the director.
The two villains of this play, Bonnie Panych (Caliope) and Beatrice Zeilinger (Melpomene) are hilarious and almost ran away with this show. And if Cailin Stadnyk were to ever play Circe, I guarantee that Odysseus would break his bonds at the mast.
The Xalapa Chileros & The Deconstructed Poet
Tuesday, June 26, 2012
|George Bowering - The Deconstructed Poet|
I was there only one night in 1964, but I love the city of Xalapa. The University of Veracruz is there. The state’s symphony is there. The huge and mysterious Olmec heads are there, and I wrote a story about it: “The Xalapa Handkerchief.” Like all great cities, it is built on seven hills, and low-level clouds snake their way between them. It is also the home of the Xalapa Chileros.
A lot of people think that Martín Dihigo was the greatest baseball player of all time. He is the only person who is in the baseball halls of fame of the USA, Mexico, Cuba, Venezuela and the Dominican Republic. When he died he was Cuba’s national minister of sports. But in 1953 he was the manager of the Xalapa Chileros.
I used to enjoy good conversations with a poet who lived in Xalapa and taught philosophy at the university there. His name is Joaquín Sánchez Macgregor, and when I knew him he had curly brown hair, sort of like a lot of Scotsmen you know. We used to appear in poetry magazines together, as in El Corno Emplumado No. 10
. He taught philosophy in Cuba during the early years of the revolution there, and returned to take up a job at Veracruz. In the early 60s he was invited to speak at the conference of philosophers at the University of Texas, but he was stopped the US border police and turned back. He had four counts against him, at least, maybe five: he was a poet, he was a philosopher, he had been in Cuba, and obviously his mother had chosen to become a Mexican. In later years he became a big poobah a the National University (UNAM) in Mexico City. I checked the University of Texas libraries, and sure enough, they have some of his books there. It isn’t the hall of fame, but it is, sort of. In Havana and in Xalapa, Joaquín was a big fan of Martín Dihigo.
The Chileros compete in the Veracruz Winter League, the east coast equivalent of the Mexican Pacific League. There are two divisions of five teams each. Xalapa won the championship in 2001-2008. The 2008-2009 crown was won by the San Andrés Tuxtla Sorcerers. They love baseball in the state of Veracruz. Their national dance is a fandango performed in white outfits. Veracruz is a Caribbean nation, you might almost say. If you want to see how much the fans love their Chileros, just go to YouTube and type “Chileros de Xalapa.”
Oh, and remember Fernando Valenzuela Jr.? He recently signed with the Chileros as a first baseman and a designated hitter.
On second thought, why am I extolling the wonders of Xalapa, my favourite city in Mexico? I know what: you can visit the other towns in the league. I’m sure you’ll really like the Córdoba Cafeteros or the Minatitlán Gavilanes. I’ll be in Xalapa. You know, going to the symphony.
The Diamond Alphabet
Baseball in Shorts
BookThug - 2011
From Milan - Massimo Perego's Fine Stuff
Monday, June 25, 2012
|benjamin - Photograph by Massimo Perego|
name: massimo perego
comments: .hi there!..
..i am Italian, 27 years old,gradueted last year in
photography at the international design institute in Milan.
I am now looking for a photography assistant opportunity
here in vancouver..
..school was my biggest experience even if i worked as
assistent for few photographers in Milan in the past few years..
..look forward to hear some good from you soon..
I hope that my response to Massimo does not cause him to ease into a hot tub of water and to slit his wrists!
I am a 70 year old man who came to Vancouver in 1975. I worked for just about every Canadian magazine, very good newspapers and many magazines around the world. I call that era, the age of the halftone process. It began in 1872 with the first publication of a photograph (it had not been possible before and the photogravure was much too expensive) in a newspaper. From that point on books, magazines and newspapers (not to mention advertising billboards) all tried to get the best photographers. These photographers traveled (and were paid to do so as I was) all over the world. That world ended in the 1990s when journalism in print began to die. Here in North America it is virtually dead. Nobody has yet to figure out how to make money with photographs on a computer monitor.
The romantic idea that you might have of the photographer's assistant working with a good photographer taking pictures of nude or semi nude beautiful models is pretty well dead. Most of the photographers of my generation are gone, dead or selling real estate.
The only photographers still in business are doing the terrible heavy work (thousands of pictures that have to be "fixed up" as proofs) of shooting weddings and it is very competitive.
|nicole - Photograph by Massimo Perego|
For you to come to Vancouver would be a complete folly and your chances of finding a job very slim.
In my many years as a photographer I may have used an assistant about 6 or 7 times. The nature of my work was to photograph actors, politicians, directors and I wanted the one on one intimacy that would have been broken by an assistant.
I hope this does not discourage you but perhaps things are better in your country. If you get depressed you can always watch past episodes of Commissario Salvo Montalbano! They are very good.
P.S. I really like your portraits.
Sunday, June 24, 2012
There are many books in my library that I return to often. And most interesting is the fact that if I get rid of a book or give it away, within hours or days I am looking for a quote from the book that is no longer on my shelf.
There is one page, preface, page 19, from a book(that will never give away) Harold Bloom’s How to Read and Why
that I almost have memorized. I go back to read it often. I was thinking about it as Rosemary and I were reading in bed last night. The preface reads:
There is no single way to read well, though there is a prime reason why we should read. Information is endlessly available to us; where shall freedom be found? If you are fortunate, you encounter a particular teacher who can help, yet finally you are alone, going on without further mediation. Reading well is one of the great pleasures that solitude can afford you, because it is, at least in my experience, the most healing of pleasures. It returns you to otherness, whether in yourself or in friends, or in those who might become friends. Imaginative literature is otherness, and as such alleviates loneliness. We read not only because we cannot know enough people, but because friendship is so vulnerable, so likely to diminish or disappear, overcome by space, time, imperfect sympathies, and all the sorrows of familial and passional life.
I thought of the above as in the quiet of our marriage bedroom with our cats sleeping at our feet Rosemary and I read separate books on the same bed. Not as sexy, perhaps, as reading separate books on separate beds as the likes of Nick and Nora Charles, but it seemed comforting to me last night. It was comforting but at the same time I felt alone. Perhaps Bloom is right and reading is a pleasure of solitude.There was more and it disturbed me. I glance to my right and watched Rosemary read. I watched myself read. We were in close proximity but there was a barrier between us.
I was enjoying The Detour
by the strangely named author, Andromeda Romano-Lax who lives in Alaska and is ample proof that there is more than Palin to be found in a place when on a clear day you can see the former Soviet Union. I cannot recall exactly how it is that I ended up corresponding with Miss Romano-Lax. I feel as I read her good novel that we share something. This we share, reading her words in my head seems to be far more intimate than feeling separate in a bed with my wife who happens to be reading a completely different book. The Detour is a novel that is thematicaly based on another book in my collection, Rescuing Da Vinci
by Robert M. Edsel which is about how the allies and European countries tried to protect art from the likes of Hitler and Goebbels. It is also how many of these works of art were retrieved after WWII.
Alice Sebold's book, Lovely Bones
(a pristine formerly unread book I purchased for $0.50 at my Oakridge Public Library book bin) I bought for my granddaughter Rebecca. Rosemary feels that she should read the books I give Rebecca before I give them to her. She then finds ways of talking to her about a shared experience. Or perhaps my Rosemary, who was once a teacher, will always be a teacher.
I felt a bit left out. I would interrupt her reading with questions like, “Do you like the book?” She was miffed by my interruptions.
There might be a solution to my problem of reading solitude. I will take out the same novel twice from my public library and I will suggest to Rosemary that we do some simultaneous reading. I wonder?
As Rosemary put out the lights I remembered that sometime around 1956 I was attempting to read Paul Horgan's historical novel (the Apache wars in the 1880s) A Distant Trumpet
for school. I was having a terrible time reading it. I could not understand. It was boring. My mother told me she would read it. She did and she convinced me that it was a worthy book. She explained to me the good parts and was so persuasive that it was that book and sharing it with her that finally made me a reader for life.