Archive for September, 2007

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Lonely-Hearted Bank Manager

30 September 2007

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It was more than two years ago when I filmed a scene with John Travolta, James Gandolfini and Scott Caan for a movie called Lonely Hearts, which also stars Jared Leto, Salma Hayek and Laura Dern. The movie showed at a few film festivals, had a limited release earlier this year in the US (but not in Canada as far as I know), and became available on DVD two months ago.

I just got a copy, and the back of my head even made it into the “Making of…” featurette! Hey, I’m a special feature! Anyway, here’s my unforgettable scene, with many memorized numbers being regurgitated:

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Shifty, Hazy and The Dynamo

27 September 2007

Last night I attended a political debate about arts support in Ontario. Drolly moderated by comedian Elvira Kurt, panelists defending their parties’ positions were Liberal Cabinet Minister Chris Bentley, Progressive Conservative MPP (York North) Julia Munro and New Democrat MPP (Parkdale-High Park) Cheri DiNovo.

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Panelists asking questions included singer Molly Johnson, author Susan Swan and actor Wayne Robson.

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Mr. Bentley was at a disadvantage. The current Liberal government brought forth “Status of the Artist” legislation, which was supposed to address issues such as protections for child performers, income averaging, training, housing support and an improved collective bargaining process for artists. But all that was passed was a “Celebrate the Artist Weekend.” So the audience was understandably bitter.

Mr. Bentley did himself—and his party—no favours. He promoted the Liberals by saying they would “continue building on what we’ve done,” which to this audience of artists was like saying “we will proudly continue to feed you gruel.” (Several other broken promises by Dalton McGuinty’s Liberals have been highly-publicized.) He seemed unaware of his gaffe, as he kept repeating it .

But he was also generally unlikeable, coming across as a typical, programmed politician. He rarely answered questions but instead dissembled and equivocated. He employed cliche and ineffective hand gestures and head movements. His vocal inflections made him sound insincere. Even the Liberals in the audience ended up disgusted.

Ms. Munro made a strong opening statement, saying her party would only promise what they could commit to. (Of course, that in itself is a promise…) Thereafter, however, her answers were clumsy and unclear. And the Progressive Conservatives have a history of failing to see the value of the arts, so many of her comments were looked upon with some suspicion.

Ms. DiNovo was a tough-talking, clear-minded fireball. She gave straightforward answers that the crowd wanted to hear. I suspect she is sincere, but two realities must be faced. First, she may well be re-elected, but her leader, Howard Hampton (and many other NDP candidates) won’t be. Second, in part because of being a minor party these days, the NDP can promise much more than they can possibly deliver.

Personal disclosure #1: Cheri DiNovo represents my riding. I am pleased with many of her positions and with her overall performance. Disclosure #2: as an immigrant who is not yet a Canadian citizen, I don’t get to vote. Boo hoo.

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Bang Rumble Thud (chomp)

23 September 2007

An apple tree of some unknown variety stands in our neighbour’s back yard, with some branches reaching out over their garage. The garage roof is partly asphalt shingles and partly a corrugated fiberglass.

When Newton’s most famous theory bears fruit, the Rube Goldberg-like sounds we hear from our window are the BANG of the apple hitting the roof, a modest RUMBLE as it makes its way over one or both roof surfaces, and a THUD as it introduces itself to our driveway. Sometimes later in the evening additional sounds may result, such as raccoons ordering the buffet.

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Worse than the dentist

23 September 2007

Easily one of the most stressful days of the year is the one on which the cats have their annual appointment with the veterinarian. Yesterday was the worst yet.

The car hasn’t room for all three cats at once, so we took Juniper separately first. Although usually very affectionate with me and friendly with others, she does have her loathings; among them are getting in her carrier, going outside, and riding in a car. Each year she gets worse, and yesterday actually got car sick for the first time. After having to wait 45 minutes at the vet’s due to earlier emergencies putting them behind schedule, by the time we were seen she was livid. The nurse had to wear what looked like welder’s gloves, and she was so difficult I was asked to wait outside. As we stood in the waiting room, the sounds she made from the other side of the door were like something from The Exorcist.

Vespa and Linnell complained on their ride, too, but it was more amusing since Linnell, a 15 pound tiger, makes the tiniest and highest-pitched sounds of the three. Except for vaccination number 2, which caused him discomfort, he was beautifully behaved. Vespa wasn’t terribly bad, either (except for her resistance to being put in her carrier), but she and Juniper are still not back to normal behaviour twenty-four hours later. They are not eating much if at all, and seem joyless. Even Linnell is subdued.

Our cats bring us so much happiness that when they are miserable we cannot help but be heavyhearted ourselves.

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Look, Ma, I’m Published! (not really; the internet doesn’t count)

16 September 2007

Two photos from my Flickr collection (see “Truelsen’s Camera” in Blogroll at right) have been selected for inclusion in the Toronto Schmap Guide. Point your cursor at the little pine tree icon at the map’s lower right corner to see pictures from Ashbridge’s Bay Park, two of which were taken with my old and now-defunct digital camera nearly a year ago.

I had never heard of Schmap when I got the request, but if they like pictures of silhouetted barren trees and silly-looking fishermen, I’m okay with that. And now that we know they exist, we can all see what photos are chosen to represent other locations! It’s like a travel agency at your fingertips! Like a journey into the eyeballs of other travelers! Like a world tour without having to keep your carry-on free of lubricant!

Surprisingly, there is no Schmap Guide for Ashtabula, Ohio.

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Hi, Park!

14 September 2007

Before the weather turns into what everyone thinks of when they think of Canada, we visited High Park today; a wonderful and sizeable park not too far from our neighbourhood. We’d explored part of it in the Spring, particularly to see the cherry blossoms.

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I’d been back a couple more times (including attendance at a smallish revel on Canada Day), but this was our first walk along Grenadier Pond.

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A lovely day in the park! Once among the trees that turned a warm sun into dappled light, with a friendly breeze as company, the weather was utterly to my liking. And sundry lovely scenes presented themselves for our enjoyment.

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This is a park with many pathways, trails, lawns, gardens and hills. Our return trek, in direct sunlight and all uphill, was more of a trudge. Whew. But along that return we found a nice little farmers’ market and discovered that there are a number of formal gardens, including one in the shape of a maple leaf.

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Toronto has many parks ranging from sad little parkettes to beaches to large, foliage-filled ravines. High Park is one of the city’s dearest, and because of its proximity, we call it ours.

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Theatre with an “r-e”

12 September 2007

Yesterday I met up with a friend I hadn’t seen in probably 15 years, the playwright and Director of Niagara University Theatre, Gregory Fletcher.

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No awkwardness at all. Whew! Good conversation, lovely weather, and decent entertainment. We went to see Hotel Peccadillo, a Morris Panych adaptation of a Feydeau farce at The Shaw Festival.

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The set design was brill, as the Brits say, and the musical accompaniment for this non-musical was a delight. The play itself was not bad, although I often felt the actors made stylistic choices that undercut the effectiveness of the comedy. That Panych was also the director made this something of a surprise. As is too often the case, I was not consulted for my input.

If I could I would go out to see live theatre every week. But if movies are costly, then plays… blah blah blah. Yet because of live theatre’s importance to me, I have this year indulged in three shows at The Shaw, two at Tarragon Theatre, one at the Stratford Festival, one at Can Stage and one by the Company Theatre. I have missed at least as many others I would liked to have seen in that same time.

And if I could I would be accompanied to the theatre by my girlfriend, whom I used to drag along to nearly everything I saw (or did) in Orlando.

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But between her lack of time when classes are in session and my interest being greater than hers, she has yet to see any Canadian theatre. And yes, it is always also about money. (Shut up about money already.)

In the eight productions I have attended this year, there have been performances that made me wonder if I could ever be that good. But more often I have felt up to the task, and wonder whether I will be allowed to work for these notable companies before I am no longer able to memorize lines. Both Niagara-on-the-Lake and Stratford, Ontario seem charming towns in which I think I would like to spend half a year doing theatre.

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At my age, going “one step at a time” tries my patience. But my getting older does not alter the struggles of this business, and so my first venture in Canadian Theatre will be in a small town in British Columbia, doing Miracle on 34th Street. It is neither Shaw nor The Shaw Festival, neither Shakespeare nor Stratford, neither exciting new scripts nor esteemed Toronto theatre companies. But I hear the location is beautiful, and it is work, hallelujah, that will put my feet back on a stage!