Saturday, July 19, 2014
by Antony Raine
Black sand, black sand
How you sit so long and slender,
Before me like a velvet cloak,
Basking under blazing sun,
With no-one here to love you
But my weathered young heart,
And the old wrinkled fisherman,
In his faded shirt and withered hands,
Saddled with nothing but the salty air,
Hacking coconuts on your black sand.
And how black sand you are freckled;
Speckled and heckled even!
By crackling shells and coral stone
From the womb of your mother ocean,
Who whips and spits,
A ripping wail of white foamed cloud,
Flailed to your black sand shoreline
And buries me;
An island on your island
In the bosom of your black sand.
Black sand, oh black sand,
Will you soon forsake me?
I sit in the mouth of Eden,
Amongst the palm tree groves
In a symphony of a silent hour
When only the sound of the tide
Shall hear my murmuring,
And only the curling hood of crashing waves
Shall see what my eyes see;
Before me not a soul but a sight,
Of a naked blue horizon of glittering sea.
For today she is all mine to love,
And today her song is mine alone,
For she is asylum from my island,
And I hear her siren play for me alone
‘Til the breakers yield and my lungs surrender,
And the ocean and I are of one breath,
Safe from the flight of a whispering breeze,
And the mournful call of minarets,
Over paddy fields wrung with sweat and smoke,
And the haunting dirge of the ocean’s depths.
Black sand, my black sand,
How do you not desert me?
When the ocean roars her thunderous spill,
Her riptide full,
Yet her sorrow tender,
For the throne I burrow,
With my bare hands spent,
In my empire of solace,
This velvet cloak of ugly splendour.
Copyright: Antony Raine 2013
Antony Raine is a singer/songwriter with an
unconventional story. From writing music in a former Uruguayan brothel, to
performing in illegal theatre houses in Montevideo,
the London-based troubadour hit the ground running in late 2013 when his
storytelling debut EP, ‘Farewell to Arms’, reached no. 12 in the iTunes
Singer/Songwriter Chart and received airtime on BBC Radio 6. His second EP, ‘Blood & Treasure’, is out this spring 2014.
The Hot Black Sands
Friday, July 18, 2014
Quite a few years ago, before the internet
was in full swing I purchased these 6 reference books at the Book Warehouse. They
are extremely useful for satisfying my curiosity and they have only one defect.
The print is so small that even my reading bifocals strain my eyes.
A couple of days ago I was leafing through
the Shakespeare volumes. Then I became curious at my pristine (virgin?) copy of
The Worsdworth Dictionary of Sex. It seems I had never perused it. In the Ps I
Philomeitrax in ancient Greece, is a mature man who loves boys
in their prime. The great tragedian Sophocles was called a philomeitrax, which
was considered a title of honour. (Meitrax, ‘beautiful.’)
Phimoslotomy a surgical procedure for
relieving a condition of phimosis, or constriction of the foreskin.
Philtrum the vertical groove in the centre
of the upper lip. The term is derived from the Greek philtron, meaning ‘philter,
charm,’ referencing to the fact that this feature is usually considered
attractive. Plural philtra.
I immediately looked through my files to
find what I thought was a vertical line between the upper lip (dividing it) and
on the upper lip. It was to no avail. My reference books were failing. I went
to the obvious place the internet to find that either my reference dictionary
has it wrong or the internet has it right.
If indeed the philtrum is above the upper
lip then I have scores of beautiful women with this attractive feature. And
of course the philtrum is not limited to women but to men, too. It seems that
Cary Grant had an unusually nice one and so does Art Bergmann.
Bad Industrial Design In Ascendance
Thursday, July 17, 2014
|Kenmmore Special Edition fridge|
Recently I gave my eldest daughter my
beautiful Acoustic Research transistor amplifier. It has only five knobs on its
front. It is all polished brass and I believe a thing of beauty. Mated to a
pair of antique AR speakers her sound system is superb. It is a model of
simplicity in which design follows function.
I believe we are living in an era where
industrial design is falling off the shelf.
As examples why is my sink so difficult to
wash clean? A good industrial designer would use the principle of shaping the
sink so that water draining would create a clockwise or counterclockwise swirl
that would drain and clean at the same time.
Two years ago I went to London Drugs and
asked to talk to the manager. I told him I wanted to test three vacuum cleaners
for noise so I need the three and an outlet. He thought my request was odd but
he did grant my request. I purchased the vacuum that to my ears was the
quietest and whose whine was not too high pitched.
It is a Hoover canister. When you use it to vacuum
stairs and you happen to lift it with one hand at the same time, it looses
suction because of loose seals. It has a plastic hose that kinks. If you do not
notice this there is no suction. The phone rang a few days ago and Rosemary
(who was vacuuming left it on) went to answer it. When she returned it was not
working anymore. I had a suspicion but did nothing to reduce her depression of
having to spend money to buy a new unit.
The electric motor, not getting cooling air
through its core must have had a circuit breaker. The next day the vacuum
|Hoover kinking hose - right|
The folks at Hoover who designed the unit did not test the
device with someone who might have arthritis. Changing brushes and messing with
the hose really hurts me. Some idiotic Canadian regulation prevents the chord
for being long enough to perhaps work in a room and the hallway, too.
The worst refrigerator we have ever owned
is our present Sears Kenmore “Special Edition”. Note in the picture here that
the outside has a thin coat of plastic paint that wore quickly and the metal
underneath rusted after exactly one year. Cleaning the drawers and shelves
(with difficult to clean tempered glass) is a chancy thing. The glass must be
removed. Are sinks large enough for it? Did anybody who designed this
refrigerator ever project the problem of having to clean it? Did the Hoover designer ever test
the machine in a normal house?
My iPhone 3G has one longish button that
can go one way or the other by pressing on its ends. This is for adjusting
volume. I find it efficient and simple. My wife’s iPhone 4 has two buttons.
That must be an improvement. Or is it?
My Fuji X-E1 camera like all modern digital
cameras does not promote the connecting of a studio lighting system to it via the
antiquated PC cord connection. The high triggering voltage of some studio
flashes can burn the insides of digital cameras. In order for me to use a
studio flash I had to purchase a safe sync attachment that slips and sits on
the top of the camera’s “hot” shoe. A few weeks back I was attempting to take
pictures with my studio flash but nothing happened. Finally in complete
confusion and frustration I called up my friends at Leo’s Cameras. I was told
after we discussed all the possible problems (a bad PC cord, a failed safe
sync) that somehow my camera was on silent mode (no idea what that really is). On
silent mode my camera will not fire a flash. I cannot imagine the logic behind
My new Craftsman lawnmower replaced another
Craftsman that worked perfectly except the body had rusted and the holes meant
I got small stones hitting me in the face. The chap at Sears immediately knew
of this problem when I said, “My mower works except…”
My new Craftsman has a grass catcher bag
that says Dust Blocker TM –Ez Empty. I rarely use the catcher as mulched grass
when it falls on the lawn returns nitrogen to the soil. I use the catcher when I
want grass clippings to mulch around my hydrangeas (they suffer in the
July/August droughts. When it has rained there is not dust coming out! When it
has not rained I get showered by a fine cloud of dust.
Emptying the catcher is tough. It is no
self-evident and if you have arthritis…
It is my guess if that you own a 2007 Malibu, or a brand new
Rolls Royce and you happen to drop some quarters on the sides of your seat that
you will never ever be able to retrieve them or anything small that might just
make it to the edge of your seat.
In all cases I believe it is a failure of
industrial design. It is a failure of having forgotten that form (design?) follows
Who Doth Not Look For Night?
Wednesday, July 16, 2014
Since I cannot prove a lover…
I am determined to prove a villain.
On Sunday we (my Rosemary and I ) lingered
at Bard after enjoying Cymbeline. When we were about to leave we noticed that
there had been a changing of the guards. It would seem that at some late hour
the friendly Bard women change places with I-mean-business security guards. At
the exit this man ran in with an ashen face as if he had seen a ghost. I
stopped him and asked him what was wrong. He told me that the folks at Bard on
the Beach do not want to publicize that there is some sort of spirit/ghost that
roams the grounds at night. He is a man and a crown is upon his head. When he
walks he drags a broad sword that clangs sporadically. The security staff is
too rattled but feel that they cannot report it to the authorities as they (the
authorities) might counter with the accusation that said staff is not seeing
spirits but consuming them.
When clouds appear, wise men put on their cloaks;
When great leaves fall, the winter is at hand;
When the sun sets, who doth not look for night?
(Richard III, 2.3)
Bard's Cymbeline - The Thing Itself
Tuesday, July 15, 2014
My knowledge of Shakespeare until 1984
consisted in having read Romeo & Juliet and Julius Caesar in university. Previous
to that I had lived for one year in 1955 on Calle Guillermo Shakespeare in the
Nueva Anzures neighbourhood in Mexico
Sometime in the late summer of 1984 I saw
my first Shakespeare play, Richard III in what was called the Vancouver
Shakespeare Festival. I had been previously assigned by Vancouver Magazine to
go to a an office (it was dingy and dark) on Richards Street
to meet up with a young man, 32 years old, called Christopher Gaze who was
playing Richard. I decided that I needed a genuine broad sword for the picture
so I borrowed one from the collection of Joseph Cohen. Gaze had a crown, a ring
and a purple cape. He was pleasant and I was impressed by his voice and accent.
To mimic the cape and to suggest blood I back lit him in red/purple.
|Christopher Gaze - Richard III 1984|
Everything was pleasant until I told Gaze
to look into my camera’s lens. It was at that moment that I first experienced
the talent of a good actor to fall into a part (perhaps adopt is a better word). Gaze
scared the hell out of me. He was crazed and capable of multiple murder.
Going with my Rosemary to the tent in Vanier Park
(it would seem that the Vancouver Shakespeare Festival was a prototype for our
present Bard on the Beach) I watched as men who were killed came back in other
roles. I was not aware of this Shakespeare tradition and I was most confused. Worse
still I felt disgusted when this hunchbacked monster with a withered hand
managed to woo and seduce the women whose husbands he had murdered. It was then
that I first learned of the power of Shakespeare’s words.
The play over the company came forward for
our applause. I was then that I first learned of a an actor’s ability to go
back in forth into roles. Gaze would bow and he would come back as the fiend
Richard III. He would bow again and Richard III was now Christopher Gaze.
That day, that afternoon, I fell in love
with theatre, Shakespeare and good acting. At first in those years good plays
and good actors were not the norm. Many plays seemed to be glorified high
school events. But that changed and I believe that some of us might take the
quality of theatre in Vancouver
for granted. Bill Millerd the Artistic Director of the Arts Club Theatre
Company, a friend of Bard on the Beach Artistic Director Christopher Gaze, has
amply contributed to our thriving good theatre. While the Gaze taught me to
appreciate Shakespeare, Millerd, slowly but surely, made me enjoy a North
American Art form, alien to this Latin American, the good musical.
|Bill Millerd & Christopher Gaze|
Success sometimes breeds a comfort in
theatre goers to attend a performance, laugh and enjoy and then go home.
That may have been the case with Bard’s
Cymbeline whose opening performance my Rosemary and I saw this Sunday.
The 6 person cast of Bill Cain’s
Equivocation Anousha Alamian, Rachel Cairns, Bob Fraze, Anton Lipovetsky,
Shawn Macdonald and Gerry Mackay had only the addition of one more player,
Benjamin Elliott for Cymbeline. These seven played multiple rolls to such quick
perfection that the audience was in rapt laughter.
There are six players in a
basketball team. The bench can be long. In the case of Cymbeline the bench was
not that long but it was plainly visible so that actors, not up, were sitting in
wait. With the putting on of a pair of glasses Elliott (also the sound designer) became the evil queen’s
(Shawn Macdonald in over-the-top funny) doctor. With just a throw rag on shoulder Lipovetsky was the
evil Cloten or Posthumus, Imogen’s secret husband.
Such was the changing of these roles done
with expertise (sort of like Gaze as Richard III or not as Gaze back in 1984)
that Cymbeline became a raucous comedy. But then Shakespeare did just that, he made
us laugh in tragedies and cry in comedies. Cymbeline seems to be a bit of both.
While watching Cymbeline, the play, as the king, Cymbeline is played with just the right pomp by Gerry Mackay (and I was laughing) I
thought of Bill Cain’s play in a scene in Equivocation
Sharpe (Anton Lipovetsky) is playing Lear
dressed in rags covered in excrement. He objects and wants to be dressed in
purple. Sharp says:
Shag: What’s the problem?
Sharpe: I’m naked, covered in shit, and he
wants to to know the problem. I’ll do it. Just give me a costume.
Shag: Your skin is your costume.
Shag: Sharpe, I’m asking something new. I’m
asking you to go on stage – deprived of character, costume and sanity – to make
a living, breathing, flesh and blood person.
Sharpe: Any whore with her legs open can
make a living – breathing – flesh and blood person. Where’s the art in that?
You want me to play a knight, give me a sword!
Shag: Armor won’t make you a noble. A robe won’t
make him royal. Better jokes won’t make him more or less a fool than he already
is. You already contain everything that is noble, foolish, royal. Have the
courage to be what you already are! The
Sharpe: Which is?
Some might consider Cymbeline to be a
little farce, a minor Othello and yet at the end of Act II the milquetoast Posthumus
(played forcefully by Lipovetsky!) says this killer speech that must be read (beyond
being heard as Shakespeare scholar/admirer/apologist Harold Bloom) to be enjoyed.
Dian of that time so doth my wife
The nonpareil of this. O, vengeance,
Me of my lawful pleasure she restrain'd
And pray'd me oft forbearance; did it with
A pudency so rosy the sweet view on't
Might well have warm'd old Saturn; that I
As chaste as unsunn'd snow. O, all the
This yellow Iachimo, in an hour,--wast
Or less,--at first?--perchance he spoke
a full-acorn'd boar, a German one,
Cried 'O!' and mounted; found no opposition
But what he look'd for should oppose and
Should from encounter guard. Could I find
The woman's part in me! For there's no
That tends to vice in man, but I affirm
It is the woman's part: be it lying, note
The woman's; flattering, hers; deceiving,
Lust and rank thoughts, hers, hers;
Ambitions, covetings, change of prides,
Nice longing, slanders, mutability,
All faults that may be named, nay, that
Why, hers, in part or all; but rather, all For
even to vice
They are not constant but are changing
One vice, but of a minute old, for one
Not half so old as that. I'll write against
Detest them, curse them: yet 'tis greater
In a true hate, to pray they have their
The very devils cannot plague them better.
As Harold Bloom in his
Shakespeare – The Invention of the Human amply stresses, we are who we are
because of Shakespeare. Had Christopher Marlowe not written anything we would
not be different for the lack of it.
Cymbeline must be
enjoyed by also seeing the cast in Equivocation. If you do not like accordions
(that is my case) then you might just want to skip Cymbeline (I would not!). With glasses on
Benjamin Elliott is superb. With glasses off there is, sometimes, that accordion.
And it would seem he has been giving Rachel Cairns lessons as she drones the
instrument ( I do not know if she does it with skill as my knowledge of accordions and bag pipes is limited by choice). But the accordion, with a
guitar and mandolin and I swear (a conga drum) is part of the fun. Do laugh
but read the play.
The thing itself will
|Lighting Designer - Alan Brodie Scenic Designer - Pam Johnson|
Addendum: In Equivocation Anton Lipovetsky loses his head. In Cymbeline (and I believe I am not letting the cat out of the bag) he does, too. Whenever I see my favourite Vancouver musicians play baroque music or I watch the Microcosmos String Quartet play Britten or in this case the cast of Equivocation and of Cymbeline, appear at the end with smiles I regret not being a musician or actor. I am unable to share a camaraderie that is so palpable. In playing Shakespeare they must know something that I will never know. I am jealous.
A Midsummer's Night Dream
Are melted into thin air
A mole cinque-spotted
No Errors in Bard's Equivocation
Monday, July 14, 2014
|Behold - the head - of a traitor! - Anton Lipovetsky's severed head - Heidi Wilkinson Bard Props|
I saw Bard’s Co-production (Belfry Theatre, Victoria
and directed by Michael Shamata) of Bill Cain’s Equivocation last Thursday. It
left me in turmoil and more so when Bard Artistic Director Christopher Gaze sent
me a PDF version of Cain’s script.
Last night, Sunday at the opening
performance of Shakespeare’s Cymbeline I made a point to ask Richard Wolfe,
Artistic Director of Pii Theatre on his experience in reading scripts. He told
me that many of them have no added information and that playwrights,
particularly George Bernard Shaw published and publish scripts they know lay people will read.
This was not the case with Cain’s script.
Reading his comments and instructions is a separate laugh (joy) all of its own.
Equivocation, the play, written in 2008 by Bill Cain who
is a member of the Society of Jesus is dedicated:
This play is dedicated with great love to
Kevin Bradt. When in despair over Equivocation, I’d call him up and say,
“Nobody is ever going to want to see this play,” he always said the same thing
– “I want to see it.” So I wrote it for him. It was the last play he ever saw.
He loved it. So this is for Kevin.
Now Kevin M. Bradt happens to also be a
Jesuit who taught at the Jesuit School of Theology at Berkeley. Why Equivocation was the last play
he saw is not clear, but I did find the obituary of one Kevin Michael Bradt who
died in California
in December 2008.
Kevin Bradt said of his friend’s TV series
Kevin Bradt accented God's gift of freedom
and its role in human drama. We do not always use that freedom well, even with
the help of revelation. Our 4,000-year tradition of Jewish and Christian living
with the light of revelation affirms that God loves believers even when we use
our freedom to make terrible mistakes. In fact, God keeps doing something
important among us and through our lives. In a sense there is nothing big or
sacred about our day to day existence; yet everything about our days is
significant, special, sacred. Nothing is so profane, that God is not there with
us. Narrative is able to portray this complexity. Nothing Sacred sought to do
The above may be all too long to interest
anybody wanting to read a quick one on a Bard on the Beach play. But if the
above in any way has sparked an interest soldier on.
I am a baptized, confirmed, etc Roman
Catholic whose mother sent him to a Catholic boarding school, St, Edward’s High
School, in Austin, Texas.
My teacher of religion, Brother Edwin
Reggio, C.S.C. told us about the Jesuit motto AMDG (Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam) or
all for the greater glory of God. What this meant was that any personal act is
significant if we give it direction. If the direction is towards the glory of
God then even brushing your teeth can be significant, but perhaps not as much
as the narrative of a play. I have always been an admirer of the Jesuits and particularly now that an Argentine Jesuit is Pope. But more than ever after seeing and reading this play it is about my admiration for the mind of these intelligent men.
Equivocation, is a serious and complex play
that has many funny moments. Some of them come from the fact that the cast of 6
play, at least two roles each. The changing of roles can come from a rapid
costume change (there must be an army of fast-dressers in back) or simply with expression and gesture.
In a nutshell the play is about Shakespeare
(in this play called Shag for Shagspeare) who is about to write a play (plausible but
not in fact) commissioned by King James 1st via his leading minister Robert Cecil about the 1605 Gunpowder Plot in London. It is about how this led to
frustrations and, yes, several incidents of equivocation which ultimately
resulted in the retrieval from a laundry basket of a discarded play set in Scotland
and having three witches. We find that Bonnie King James was partial to witches and was related to Banquo.
The Cain script is full of delightful
advice to the director:
Sharpe/Conspirator (played by Anton
May! Let us rather hold fast the mortal
sword and bestride our down-fall’s birthdom.
Sharpe, zorro-s with his sword and is,
in general, delighted with himself and
Scene 5 – The Gunpowder Plot –Shag’s First
Draft – Night.
A full-on Shakespeare period play. Props.
Costumes. All of it. Let later drafts be more naturalistic. Here we hear the
pentameter and are conscious of it. Enter The Priest in a traditional black
Judith (Shag’s daughter) played by Rachel
(mostly to herself)
Plays have beginnings and endings. That’s
two lies right there…And people listen. When does that ever happen?...And they
care what happens – even if it’s not happening to them.
(to the audience)
How could there be anything true about a
Judith surveys the audience. Then speaks to
them. Judith doesn’t judge things. She simply
Witch/Armin (Shawn Macdonald)
(collecting pages from the ground)
Waitwaitwait - This is not way to treat a script! (pages assembled roughly)
For the only time in the play, the witches are very Halloween withch-t! Full-tilet, larger than life witchy witchy witches!
I could go on and on..
Anousha Alamian plays Nate (a member of
Shakespeare’s cooperative) and Sir Robert Cecil. Alamian’s Cecil is scary and oily. He walks with
a limp and a hunched back but instantly is not Cecil but Nate (and a few
characters more) with a flicker in the face and a change of posture. Alamian is
mocked by Gerry Mackay (plays Richard Burbage/ Father Henry Garnet (the Jesuit)
by playing Richard III with the limp in one of the many plays within the play
(and within that play) of Equivocation.
Rachel Cairns is Judith with
contemporary accent and gesturing (she reminded my wife and I of our 17
year-old granddaughter) and an unwavering precision performance that wonderfully clashes
with the emotions of all the others who preen, shout, cry and scream. In fact Cairns to me was that
blind seer Tiresias present in many ancient Greek plays. We know what’s going
on because she is there to tell us.
Bob Frazer as Shagspeare is able to insert
a person into the myth and the enigma that is Shakespeare. Through his
Shagspeare and Cain’s words we explore ethical questions that affect us today.
Anton Lipovetsky plays Sharp (in
Shakespeare’s company), and King James via an atrociously wonderful Lear. As
Sharp he is the only one allowed to somehow break Judith’s impenetrable
stability with a kiss. As Tom Wintour
one of the jailed Gunpowder Plot conspirators he realistically loses his head
but keeps it firmly on as one the most entertaining kings, not in any
Shakespeare plays, King James the 1st. There is a possibility that
while Shagspeare in Equivocation, says,” I don’t do propaganda," and he does his best not to
sell his soul to James via Cecil, there is that line in Macbeth (and in
"Some I see that two-fold balls and
treble sceptres carry," said by Macbeth which is all about the joining of
the scepters of Scotland and England. Shakespeare is making sure of
obtaining the patronage of the literate king. He did in the King's Men.
Shawn Macdonald plays Armin (in Shakespeare’s
company) and Cecil’s brother-in-law advocate Sir Edward Coke. If ever this
successful actor, very good at oily parts decides to sell used cars I would
advise against it. I would never buy a used car from this man!
Gerry Mackay plays Richard Burbage but is
best as Father Henry Garnet the Jesuit and expert on equivocation. If Rachel
Cairns’s Judith tell us how things are Mackay’s Garnet tells us how things
No review of this play can be an authentic
one, I believe unless it is seen more than once. A good way of almost seeing it
again is to see Cymbeline in which the above six players are joined by only one
more, Benjamin Elliott and his accordion. I looked forward to seeing Cymbeline
wondering how Cairns
would now play a strong but emotional woman that is Imogen. And somehow I knew
ahead of time that the Lipovetsky character would lose his head in that play,
As I watched these six going from one role to another I imagined Anousha Alamain playing Richard III or Iago or just about any villain in Shakespeare. Macbeth? Yes, too! Curiously I saw two Hamlets, Rachel Cairns (and why not?) and Shawn Macdonald who would be able to show lots of inner turmoil in spades. We will have to wait a tad for Gerry Mackay to play Lear. Bob Frazer has played most of the lead rolls of Shakespeare and Shakespeare himself.
The solemn temples, the great globe itself beckon for him.
A Midsummer's Night Dream
Are melted into thin air
A mole cinque-spotted
Love Seashell Pink
Sunday, July 13, 2014
|Rosa 'English Elegance' July 13 2014|
From the letters of the yet-to-be American
President Warren G. Harding to his mistress Carrie Fulton Phillips, January 29,
I love your poise
Of perfect thighs
When they hold me
I love the rose
Your garden grows
Love seashell pink
That over it glows
I love to suck
Your breath away
I love to cling –
There long to stay…
I love you garb’d
But naked more
Love your beauty
To thus adore…
I love you when
You open your eyes
And mouth and arms
And cradling thighs…
If I had you today, I’d kiss and
fondle you into my arms and
hold you there until you said,
Warren,’ in a
Benediction of blissful joy…!
rather like that encore
discovered in Montreal.