Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Classic Book Club

"The real king of Naples is the Queen!"--That Hamilton Woman

Friday night I went to the opening of an art exhibit at the Power Plant, only to find out that it wasn't till this Friday!

Saturday night I hoped to rent the Roberto Rossellini-Ingrid Bergman movie Stromboli from 2Q Video, but it was out.  Instead I rented Alexander Korda's That Hamilton Woman, with real-life couple Laurence Olivier and Vivien Leigh as Lord Nelson and his mistress Lady Emma Hamilton.  Since it was made in 1941, there was plenty of WWII subtext, emphasizing the importance of fighting Napoleon/Hitler's tyranny.  Pretty fun overall. (I liked the bit in the first scene where the gendarme socked her and hurt his knuckles!)

Sunday afternoon the Classic Book Club discussed Bambi.  Only three people came, but everyone who decided not to come changed their RSVP, and that's something. (There are usually some no-shows who don't warn you.)

Sunday night we started watching the Netflix series Bloodlines, about a black sheep who returns home to his Florida family and starts causing trouble.  It looks promising.

This afternoon at the memoir slam there was a woman from Vietnam called Deanna, who was on the last helicopter out of Saigon in 1975!  Seems people are always telling her she should write down her life story.

Tonight at choir practice we started doing the Slave's Chorus from Verdi's Nabucco.  We've done it before a lot, but this is the first time we did it Paolo's way.  I managed to sing a high B flat for the first time!

The other night I dreamed that someone convinced me to agree to make a "reality TV" show, but I changed my mind when I found out they were going to film it in my room!  I also dreamed of singing William Blake's "Jerusalem" in a choir.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Reading out loud

Sunday's ROLT Meetup, "My heart's in the Highlands!" focused on Scottish writing.  I read a passage from early in Robert Louis Stevenson's Kidnapped sequel David Balfour; Robert Burns' "The Soldier's Return"; "Greenland's Icy Mountains" by the World's Worst Poet William McGonnagall; and "The Hill" from Edgar Lee Masters' Spoon River Anthology, except that I'd translated it into Scots dialect and retitled it "Th' Brae."

Five people came. (At one point over twenty people had said they were coming.) One of them was Rebecca, whom I'd met at a Meetup several years ago, who grew up in New Guinea as a missionary child.

Monday night at choir practice we started on our new program.  The first song we've started learning is "Firenze Sogna." I'm already trying to memorize it because Paolo would like all of us to be off-book.  At one point I managed to sing a high A!

At opera rehearsal Tuesday night we started staging Die Fledermaus.  I'm one of four guys who'll do consecutive dance twirls with our gals at the start of the "What a Night!" number.

Tonight I saw the DVD of Disney's movie of Bambi, which I last saw as a little kid.  They removed the deer character who got captured by the humans and released back into the wild without his old survival instincts, as well as the part where Bambi examines the corpse of a poacher killed in a gunfight. (The latter was too gruesome for the family audience.) The added scene where Bambi rescues Faline from the hounds doesn't jibe with the book.  But the choral music was nice.

I just ate a pomelo, which is a mega-grapefruit.

The History Discussion Group Meetup is in a couple of weeks so it's time for me to get serious about finishing A Distant Mirror!  If I do 15 or 20 pages a day that'll be enough.

Friday, January 15, 2016


"What do you expect me to do, shoot him?" "Well, it wouldn't be a bad idea..."--Goodfellas

"And all I had to do every once in a while was tell Sandy I loved her"--ibid.

Sunday afternoon I saw Martin Scorcese's Goodfellas (for the umpteenth time) at the Event Screen with the Sunday Afternoon Movie Meetup.  It's one of my favourite movies!  While most gangster movies are tragedies, this one plays as a very black comedy.  This time I noticed the gangsters' long, pointy collars, like priests on speed.  They also had a "making of" documentary.

Afterward I went to the Politics Meetup.  But first I had time to kill so I went to the Chapters near Bay station and bought Margaret MacMillan's book about historical personalities and the 1985-86 issue of the complete reprint of Peanuts. (It wasn't so good by this time, but I'm still a bit curious.)

Monday afternoon we had fifteen people at the memoir slam even though Selia couldn't make it! (We discussed movie's we'd like to see someday, and school textbooks.) That evening choir practice got cancelled.  I hope it wasn't because of Paolo's boy being sick!

Wednesday night I saw the Ingrid Bergman documentary at the Bloor. (This time I was ready to be there at 6:15.) I hadn't known she had an affair with the war photographer Robert Capa!

This morning there was a robbery at the Starbuck's near St. Clair and Christie. (Nobody was hurt.) Last weekend there was a stabbing at St. Clair and Dufferin.

Today I went to the dentist and got a filling. (My regular cleaning will have to wait a couple more weeks.) I'm considering getting my teeth straightened, and Dr. Hrabalova suggested an orthodontist to visit.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Two movies

Last night I saw Quentin Tarantino's The Hateful Eight at Market Square, the western about eight mostly dangerous people stuck together in a snowstorm. (I was going to see the documentary about Ingrid Bergman, but it turned out to be at 18:15, so I didn't have time to get there.) The only woman was played by Jennifer Jason Leigh, who was born on the same day as me! (February 5, 1962.) It was pretty scary and funny.  As usual with Tarantino, there were lots of references to other movies.  J.J.L.'s character had the surname Domergue, which must be a reference to Faith Domergue, Howard Hughes girlfriend and actress in film noir Where Danger Lives and scifi curio This Island Earth.  Like Django Unchained, it had a reference to the silent classic Greed. (I'd say what it was, but that would be a spoiler.)

Have I mentioned the Biddle Family before?  When I was little, my siblings and I put on Biddle Family plays, the main rule being that everyone died in the end. (We also did fairy-tale spoofs where the good guys became bad guys and vice versa.) So in my family, a "Biddle Family ending" means an ending where a lot of characters die.   Hamlet and King Lear are Shakespearean examples of Biddle Family endings.  Well, fans of Tarantino's Reservoir Dogs won't be surprised when The Hateful Eight takes a Biddle Family turn!

Today I saw Ron Howard's In the Heart of the Sea at the Kingsway in Royal York, about the ill-fated voyage of the whaling ship the Essex, which inspired Moby-Dick.  It was a conventional but grimly enjoyable sea story.

I thought the movie was going to be at 15:00, but when I got there it turned out to be at 17:00.  Oh well, better early than late.  I had time to kill so I walked all the way to the Kipling station.  Etobicoke isn't Toronto's fanciest neighbourhood, but strange vicinities are always worth a visit when they aren't crime-ridden and dangerous.  I passed by the Arthur Murray dance studio where I spent a fortune thirteen years ago, but I didn't look in the window because I was afraid I'd see someone I knew and risk reopening a closed book!

Thursday, January 07, 2016


"Money isn't all." "Not when ya got it!"--Giant

"She says this job is making me unhappy." "It makes you happy to be unhappy!"--The Big Short

Sunday I saw George Stevens' Giant, for the fourth time, with the Classic Movie Meetup at the Lightbox. (They've been showing a series of movies with Marilyn Monroe and Elizabeth Taylor.) It's Elizabeth Taylor at her best, with lots of epic Texan stuff and James Dean too!  Jeannie and Gaby like me because I share my popcorn with them.  Afterward we had dinner at the Queen Mother Cafe near Osgoode station.  I had a spicy dish from Laos called Long Son Gai.

Monday night was choir practice, but a lot of us couldn't come so we just did some voice exercises.  I'm still curious about what we're going to do next!

Today Moira and I went through my clothes and found some stuff that should be replaced. (I admit that clothes aren't so important to me.) Then I went to Amalia's Jewellers north of St. Clair and bought a new battery for my watch, after only six months of procrastination!  I also bought a new strap, with Mickey Mouse comic book panels printed on the inner side.

Tonight I saw The Big Short at Canada Square.  A surprisingly funny take on the sub-prime mortgage crisis from the perspective of people who profited through short-selling. (Short-sellers have a bad reputation for profiting from trends that ruin other people, but without them speculative bubbles would be bigger and get followed by bigger crashes.) With a good cast and sharp dialogue, it may end up electing Bernie Sanders president!

Friday, January 01, 2016

New Year's

Yesterday my choir performed at the Vaughan branch of the Villa Colombo.  We did a few of the songs from our Christmas program and several Italian folk songs that were new to me.  We were given the words, but only one or two had the melody.  Our next rehearsal is this Monday. (Paolo doesn't waste time!)

I met Rolando (the tailor who looks a bit like silent film actor Tully Marshall) at the Columbus Centre at 10:30, and he drove me and Isabella and Michelina up to Vaughan.  On the way back one of us noticed a driver who'd no doubt been celebrating too early swerving on the road!  We finally got back at 3:00, which played havoc with our lunch schedules.

Last night I was in bed at midnight but heard the fireworks going off, as usual.

That night my dreams were more vivid than usual. (My cipralex needs replenishing.) First I dreamed of singing karaoke in the Sackville house late at night, and preparing to sing the Sid Vicious version of "My Way," which I sometimes sing at real karaoke.  Then I dreamed of a film biography of a Victorian man reaching the top of the ladder and going out to manage a big business firm in the colonies.  Then I dreamed of being inside a huge, hollow ocean liner that contained a body of water with a sub-ship floating in it, and I recall the villain had a ship like that in the James Bond movie The Spy who Loved Me.  Then I dreamed of an alternative ending to Mad Men in which all the characters went on hikes along this New Brunswick route.  Then I dreamed of my family going home to Sackville from Moncton, except that we took a detour that led us to a non-existent historic fort on the far side of Saint John, causing me to suggest we stay overnight in that city.

Today I finally got back to baking bread, which I've left off for a while.