Saturday, August 27, 2016

Woody and Beth's fall classes at Ryerson and U of T

It's getting to be that time again - school is on the horizon. I'm happy to tell you that this term, my Ryerson class is nearly full already, two weeks before term begins. So if you want to take True to Life at Ryerson, you'd better register quickly. It starts Monday Sept. 12 at 6.30.

I won't know the numbers for Life Stories at U of T for a few weeks, because it doesn't start till Tuesday October 4. It's the day class - 12.30 to 3.

Saw this, below, in an article about Woody Allen, and it made me smile; Woody thinks nostalgia is indulgent, but that it would be nice to write an autobiography. I encourage this endeavour, Woody, and offer you a couple of great courses in Toronto in the fall to help you on your new path. IT WOULD BE NICE TO WRITE THAT OUT, Woody. I can help with that.

Late-stage Woody Allen, then, is a man who gets through by playing ball, even if the sport is stacked against him. By disregarding the results and declining to dwell. “You’re probably happier in life if you can forget things,” he advises.
And yet, there may be a coda. Allen doesn’t permit himself the “indulgence of nostalgia”, but, “sometimes, when I’m alone, I think maybe it would be a nice life to stop making movies and write maybe an autobiography”. It might be “pleasant” to relive his childhood, like he does when he reminisces with his sister, Letty.
Yet writing a memoir would also require resurfacing less happy events, right? Putting them on paper. Well, yes. “I would have to go through the many regrets in my life and the many turbulences. But that’s OK. It’s conflict and excitement. It would be nice to write that out.”

Friday, August 26, 2016

Southside with You + Macca and puppies

It's National Dog Day! And here's Macca with his best wishes for the day. Be still my beating heart.
Speaking of the world's most attractive men, Ken and I just went to see "Southside with You", a movie about Barack's first date with Michelle. Neither of us were dying to see this film, but we'd made our own date ages ago and it was the best bet, since we weren't up for "Hooligan Sparrow" at Hot Docs or the new Natalie Portman film about Israel, and Ken had already seen the Woody Allen. I thought it would be about them and lots of other things, but really ... it's about their first date, from her getting ready to her sitting in a chair at the end of the night with a smile on her face. It's slow and not that great but very sweet. And in the end, if there's a message, it's that the person you choose to be your life partner is the most important decision you will ever make. We get an intimation of how she will change him for the better, and he her.

Macca and Barack - two of the best.

cucumber query

An important question for my gardening friends: as you may have noted, this year I am inordinately proud of my cucumbers. But several of them have turned out not green, but yellow and sour. I don't think they were once green turned yellow, and they are not a special yellow kind of cuke. How and why did this happen, do any of you know? Not enough sun? But others nearby are green and delicious. It makes this urban gardener sad to waste produce.

catching up

A friend just wrote to point out that I have not blogged in days, am I all right? Thank you for your concern - yes, fine this end, just busy and a bit lazy. Summer is winding down - still blasting heat in our faces but there's cold on the edges. It's my stern resolution to get to work, and I have done some editing and back-to-school work, but not much of my own - every day, something happens. This week it was a visit from my brother Mike and his nine-year old son, a great visit with family barbecues and get-togethers. Had an interesting discussion with Mike, who says he started to read "All My Loving," my Sixties memoir - which after all is about our family and he's a main character, albeit with the pseudonym Dave - and he said it bothered him to read about "Dave," so he stopped reading. I said I was protecting his privacy and he said privacy is not an issue. So from now on, in my memoirs, he'll have his own name. I gave him the dictum that any family with a writer in it is doomed - was it Alice Munro who said that? - and he nodded. True.

Two nights ago, dinner in the garden of my dear friend Suzette and her husband Pierre and their fascinating circle of friends, including a neighbour who, it turned out, was the stepbrother of Pete Seeger - royalty! Yesterday Anna, the boys and I went to see "Munsch at Play," a local production using actors with disabilities - a very funny small man in a power wheelchair and a young woman with Down syndrome - acting out some of Robert Munsch's famous stories. Ben spent part of it outside with his mother, but Eli enjoyed it so much, he wants to go again.

Another treat - I heard an interview with Anny Scoones on Shelagh Roger's CBC show, on her new memoir about her mother, the painter Molly Lamb Bobak. Anny was my dresser during a lunatic show in 1977, a quirky, thoughtful young woman who became a dear friend. And when Molly came to visit, she did as well; a watercolour of yellow freesia she painted for me hangs in my living-room. Anny is now a writer (and many other things) living in Victoria; I wrote to tell her I'd ordered her book and we are now reconnected. Her memoir - "Last Dance in Shediac" - is beautiful. I look forward to my next visit out west.

Last night, dinner with my francophone group, always animated and rich. One is a music teacher in a Toronto school who got married to his partner in January; his students celebrated with him. We asked if any of the immigrant kids had trouble with gay marriage, and he said no, they understand the open ethos of the school and they like him, so his being openly gay is not a problem. But he did tell the moving story of a 14-year old girl from Iran who asked his help to come out to her mother. The mother had a hard time understanding and only asked that they make sure the dad never finds out. We then launched into our usual spirited discussion, in French, about issues of the right and left, especially the Islamification of the world, which those on the right in our group speak about with fear and revulsion and those on the left, including me, with more tolerance. Never less than fascinating.

Okay, we're more or less up to date. Today, lunch and a movie - Barack and Michelle's first date - with Ken. Bound to be heartwarming. Anna wrote yesterday that she started to read the news and burst into tears. I don't blame her. So we need all the heartwarming we can get. Body warming, not a problem these days. For a while longer.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

celebrating Gord and the Hip

It's 9 p.m. Saturday night and I am, of course, along with much of the rest of this country, watching the last concert of the Tragically Hip on CBC TV. What a profoundly moving experience, to watch a man dying of brain cancer singing his heart out, with his band, to enraptured fans who have come to celebrate his life and say goodbye.

Here's a most beautiful article about the man, the band, the music, and this beloved country of ours:

http://www.newyorker.com/culture/culture-desk/watching-canadas-biggest-rock-band-say-a-dramatic-goodbye

P.S. I admit, I was not a fan, didn't know their music and even now, listening, it's not quite my thing, though I love that their hit song features Bobcaygeon - who else could say that? But I admire the courage and artistry of the man and am thrilled to be part of something that means so much to so many of my countrymen.