Sunday, July 25, 2004

The Return of the Bling: Back and better than ever!

Ah, Vancouver! The sweeping majesty of the mountains visible from throughout the city! Everywhere, the soothing smell of the salty sea or the sickly-sweet scent of spliff smoke!   The constant prospect of the whole damn town being sucked into the ocean in the next earthquake!

I had a lovely vacation and I’d like to take this opportunity to thank S.A. Carrie for holding down the fort during my absence. I understand that while I was away someone threatened to hack my blog, an angry flame war erupted in the comments, and my neo-con readership was alienated. All in all, sounds like just another two weeks in the blogosphere. Again, thanks Sean. Despite your protestations to the contrary, I think you are perfectly suited to this little narcissistic medium I call home. Come back anytime.

And now, here I am back in Toronto, a less attractive city than VanCity on the surface, less mythical, more rational. And yet, I was glad to arrive back. I felt a little zap of joy shoot up my spine upon my return. This is shocking for me, because I spend most of my time here in T-dot complaining about how it isn’t Montreal…

I did my very best not to touch a computer for the last two weeks. And I almost succeeded. On July 12, I spent about seven hours in an Internet cafĂ©, I must admit. But it was in order to file a movie review that I wasn’t able to finish before I left, that’s all. Since then, I have been Internetless and, consequently, I think my budding carpal tunnel syndrome symptoms have faded away… Whew.

Regular readers will recall that I set another goal for myself for the trip, to read two books in English and one in French. Again, I succeeded only partially.

The two books I finished were both by West Coast authors:

1) Half Asleep in Frog Pajamas by Tom Robbins, a Seattleite. This book was funny for the first two thirds and then I became frustrated with it, eventually just yearning for it to be over and done with. It was just so obvious that Robbins’ interest in the book faded two thirds of the way through. He started sticking in more and more sex scenes for his Filipina protagonist to keep his interest. Then, he let his most obnoxious character take over and the rest of the book was basically a monologue about the Bozo-Dogon-Sirius connection (don’t ask) and frog extraterrestrials. Blegh. Robbins is like Douglas Adams, but less funny, more pedantic/preachy, a tad sexist, and tremendously full-of-himself.

2) Hey Nostradamus! by Douglas Coupland, a Vancouverite. A rumination on the aftershocks of tragedy by Mr. Gen X. Much better than I thought it would be. Not as heavy as I thought it would be, either.

One last thing before I take off: Vancouverites should catch The Fantasticks at the Waterfront Theatre before it closes on July 31. I enjoyed this production of Tom Jones (not that one) and Harvey Schmidt’s musical muchly. The Saturday night I was there, the audience was at about one-eighth capacity, a much smaller audience than the show deserves. Fine cast, including the English Suitcase Company's fabulous Kevin Williamson in a scandalously small part. (I haven't seen him on stage since his marvelous touring production of Krapp's Last Tape in 2000.)

Contrary to what The Georgia Straight’s Colin Thomas asserts, the show is not “a coy, dopey, dated show.” Okay, so Sondheim turned fairy tales on their head a million times better in Into the Woods. But, in some ways, The Fantasticks is truer to the form it is playing with and examining. And I feel the earnestness is kept well in check.

Post-script

The Return of the Bling? What does that even mean?

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