Friday, December 29, 2006

The Joy of Reading

During this laziest of weeks – okay, not counting Monday – I’ve indulged in my favourite of pastimes, reading. Not that I don’t read every day, every week of the year, this reading has been different: nothing has been something I have to read. It’s all been strictly for pleasure.

Guiltiest of these is yet to come, as I’m not quite brave enough to face the end of such a hideously beloved series. So there it sits, beckoning with its creepy cover: the Baudelaire children eyeing a very white foot. Book the Thirteenth, o dread of dreads. If you’re not familiar with Lemony Snicket's Series of Unfortunate Events, I must caution you. Even the website is very unpleasant. A visit there might well require a glass of fortified eggnog.

Another guilty pleasure was a long-postponed re-read. Earlier this month, I kept bumping into Heinlein’s classic, Stranger in a Strange Land. Three different places, three times. What else could I do but heed the signs, curl up by the fire, and open it again? Only, now that I’ve finished it, I can’t figure out why it hasn’t been made into a film. We could use some water-brother grokkery to mellow out this crazy world.

Just as this week wouldn’t be complete without nibbling butter tarts, no week of lazy pleasures would be complete without sampling some poems. This little treasure by Victoria’s Barbara Pelman popped out from the latest issue of CV2. It seems so appropriate for these last few days of the year. I leave it with you as a belated yuletide gift.

The Angel of Backyards

likes the perspective of rearview mirrors,
sits backwards in buses and subways
checks behind her when she walks
down back alleys–

is left-handed, has lost
the front door key, sits on the porch
contemplating last spring’s garden.
She is a connoisseur of weeds

knows the yellow sharpness of broom,
the white exuberance of yarrow,
counts dandelions and buttercups
among her friends.

The angel of backyards
steals into closed doors, plants
an oblique desire in the darkest
of corners, catches you unaware

while cooking soup, planting petunias,
preparing careful budgets; digs up
buried bones, turns the compost
and there it is again – all that you thought
you lost, all you wish to lose.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Zappa, Take Two

Today is the day Frank Zappa should be turning 66. Too bad he didn't last long enough to see the concert we saw last night, Zappa Plays Zappa.

For a sample of what Frank's son, Dweezil is doing, click on the link at the end of this paragraph. Be sure you have speakers on, and that you're braced for a wall of sound. Ready? Go there now.

In keeping with the Old Man’s tradition, Dweezil’s picked only top-notch musicians to fill the stage with him. The blowmindingest was Steve Vai, who lives up the often overused adjective, legendary. Beyond Vai, if I had to pick a favourite, I'd be voting for Scheila Gonzalez. She sings, plays sax, a couple of keyboards -- and often seems to do all three just about simultaneously!

The world of Frank Zappa is as wonderful now as it was all those years ago with Freak Out. For a tiny taste of Frank, cross your fingers that this link remains active.

Take a close look at this photo to see where I was 22 years ago -- with my own son along that time too.

Happy what-should-have-been your 66th birthday, Frank. You must be proud of your baby.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Time and time again

One of my girlfriends keeps going to see Casino Royale. I guess she reeally likes Daniel Craig, the new James Bond.

The last time I saw a film four times in the theatre? Ulp. Revenge of the Nerds. I think it had a lot to do with Gilbert (Anthony Edwards).

Videos and DVD’s take away a lot of the crazy obsessive element. What you do on the privacy of your own TV screen, well, heck, that’s nobody’s business but your own. The biggest repeater around here lately has been Jack Black in School of Rock. I adore it, just don’t start singing the finale song. It’ll get stuck in my head for a week.

I started thinking about other movies I’d seen multiple times. No news that The Wizard of Oz is right up there on the list. Same for the Star Wars series and the Alastair Sim version of A Christmas Carol, apparently called Scrooge. You could have fooled me. I always thought it was pretty much the official Christmas Carol, complete with Charles Dickens' personal seal of approval.

But some of the others I've seen more than a few times? Ferris Bueller’s Day Off , the Beatles in Help! and the probably corny (but wonderful) Harold and Maude.

The strangest film I’ve ever seen more than once (both times at the cinema) is Fellini’s Juliet of the Spirits. After seeing it once, I realized I didn’t remember ANY of it. That seemed just weird, so I went again. Second time, no better. Complete Teflon brain. Can anybody tell me what it’s about?

Weirdly, a film that lots of people have seen more than once is the other 1939 classic, Gone With the Wind. It turns out to be one I’ve never seen, except for maybe a couple of scenes on some movie channel while I'm flipping. I suppose I'll have to see it one of these days. Maybe for the 75th Anniversary Extravaganza in 2014 -- if they still have theatres by then. And no, don't even try to guess what popcorn will cost.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

BT Brett and the 30th Anniversary Gala

Whew, were we ever lucky! By Saturday, enough of the dreaded snow had melted that a crowd of over 50 people managed to make it to this event at the White Rock Library. All in the name of celebrating 30 years of library service in the current building.

The gala, sponsored by the local Friends of the Library group, included a cake (of course), music by Guyle Coon’s jazz group, and presentations of awards to winners of

a creative writing contest.

But the highlight of the afternoon had to be the reminiscences and reading by author and former White Rock Councillor, Brian Brett.

Brett recalled the days when White Rock Library played host to readings by a host of writers. Among them were quite a few who were not so well-known back then. He told about the reading where only six faithful listeners showed up. And this gig featured Patrick Lane and Lorna Crozier. I imagine if that pair were to read there today, there wouldn’t be room in the building.

I guess his point was that libraries have always hosted readings for less-than-known writers – that this is one of the ways emerging authors sell their books and become known. He also reminded us of a gentler, more community-oriented White Rock – not one where highrises seem to be the only item on our city council’s agenda (although oops, how could I forget the 28% pay hike they are working on for themselves).

He also read excerpts from several of his books, including his most recent, Uproar’s Your Only Music. As you might expect, his book table sold out quickly.