Wednesday, October 12, 2011


It's that time of year again. Dogs are chasing frisbees on the beach, boats are riding swells in to the open bay, sun is glinting off water, people are getting sunburns ... and oh yeh, someone's making a turkey. Sunny days aside, it's Thanksgiving in Nares Inlet.
We followed Dennis and Kay's tradition of going out into the inlet and finding some sunny Georgian Bay rocks (which means rocks you could build a shopping centre on) to enjoy an afternoon of snacks and games. Dennis's big work boat was out of commission so we gathered together a few boats, which I labelled the Nares Inlet Navy
We all enjoyed the extraordinary weather, which was different things for different people. Some enjoyed a little exploration of the island ...
... some decided to try to launch some air support for the Nares Inlet navy ...
... some slept like babies (literally) ....
... some picked wild cranberries ...
... and we all played a game that involves, cards and lucks and theivery. Perfect for families
A fun time was had by all but really, how could you not enjoy a sunny warm day on the Georgian Bay
Back on shore, Terra was having a terrific time but perhaps a bit glum that she missed the boat trip. With her love of water, I'm surprised she didn't swim out to meet us
So another Nares Inlet Thanksgiving draws to a close, vanishing like the evening mist across the still cold water.
Here's the video

Tuesday, October 4, 2011


Ah, autumn. Time for raking leaves, shopping for Halloween costumes, harvesting pumpkins ... and having furry robotic eyes chase you around a stage as they try to turn your face into music ...

Yes, Nuit Blanche time in Toronto once again.
This installation at Dundas Square was one of two that featured robots obsessed with copying our images. This one took pictures of your face then transformed the pixels into audio tracks. Across the street at the Eaton Centre more robots chased folks around, desperate to take pics of them and to determine how famous they may, or may not, be.
There was a theme running through some of the installations this year, that of being observed, of being listed, of being analyzed and categorized and fit into boundries. Can anyone say G20 summit?
This is actually a kind of art that I like, using ulitarian objects for a purpose of expression. OK, this particular installation may not have been subtle, but it made its point, especially staged on a barricaded Younge Street in front of an incredibly annoying glaring light

Another theme that we noticed throughout the night was transformation The eyebots in Dundas Square transformed your face into audio. As we wandered around in search of art and french fries we had one of those lovely Nuit Blanche experiences, quite by accident seeing a light down this narrow alley and following it into this little courtyard I never knew was there ... and found this lovely installation of cardboard tubes where tiny dots of light responded to hand claps.

There was more commercialism evident at this years Blanche; we found this interesting installation that featured a drummer swallowed up by an automobile ... an event sponsored by Ford and that lead you to a little exhibit that was essentially a car dealership
Over at City Hall, art was taking flight ... ok I really should be ashamed of that one. You see, they had erected towers and strung cables across Nathan Phillips Square, put people into giant bird suits and flew them around ... so art took flight. Yes, I should be ashamed of that one. But of course, I'm not
We ended up the night with the almost obligatory fire show. In a parking lot beside the bus station, three giant fire cannon belched flame in time to music and from input from volunteers. There were wrecked cars, girls with flaming hula hoops, guys flinging balls of fire on the end of chains ... it was all very Mad Max.

The thing that attracts me to Nuit Blanche every year is the art, but not just the art on display. For me, there is art in the city being awake all night, of streets being closed, of groups of strangers wandering around together, united by our curiosity. That, for me, is art too.
And of course, here's the video

Monday, October 3, 2011


This a review of the current staging of Noel Coward's Private Lives from Mirvish Productions running at the Royal Alexandria Theatre here in Toronto.
Noel Coward was a play write and occasional movie actor who we now equate with sophistication and wit. And while he often wrote about the jet class of his day - this place takes place in France on both the Riviera and Paris - what makes Coward stand out is how he portrayed those sophisticates. On the outside it was all tuxedos and tiaras, inside it was all bitterness and invective, a perspective that makes for some very big laughs
What appealed to me about this production, when first I heard of it, was the cast. A very Canadian powerhouse cast. We have Kim Cattrall, best known for her role in Sex and the City but an actress with a long and interesting career. As the honeymooning Amanada, Cattrall certainly brings a lot of sophistication and glamour and here British accent is spot on
What she also brings is a great deal of fire (not so surprising) and a real gift for physical comedy. And trust me, for all Coward's rapier sharp dialogue, this production is very physical. These jet setters jab with more than just their tongues; records, pillows, picture frames and other props are all transformed into projectile weapons. Cattrall is not afraid to let herself go, to attack her part with bones and teeth and perfectly coiffed blonde hair all to hilarious results.
The other powerhouse Canadian star in this production is Paul Gross. Yes, Paul Gross the mountie from Due South but also the star/writer/director of Men With Brooms and Passchendale. His range has always impressed me as has his humour, it veers from the absurd to the ironic and is perfectly suited to Noel Coward. His accent is spot on and at the beginning of the play as he too is on his on his honeymoon, he comes across as a slightly more acidic Cary Grant. As he meets his recently divorced lover (Cattrall) his veneer quickly dissolves and the acid oozes forth; in the second act as all the characters are united and try to iron out the mess, we watch Gross trying to hold in the emotions and as he can't, as the acid bubbles out of him like emotional lava, he gives us one of the funniest performances I've seen on stage in a long long time.
It's a five person cast, and as the newly married soon to be discarded spouses, both Anna Madeley and Simon Paisley Day hold their own extremely well. You want to feel sorry for them but watching their pain at the hand of these two cads is really really funny. The fifth member of the cast is Caroline Lena Olsson as a French speaking maid whose Gallic reserve in the face of all the insanity hits all the right notes.

Private Lives starts out as a comedy of manners but quickly devolves into a madcap comedy, at least in this production but there is also a nice streak of social commentary, the whole idea of what is acceptable to define as love and what a couple makes. Thankfully this is addressed but not overstated: This is a comedy. A well written, superbly acted comedy and the director and cast are quite happy if they do nothing but make us laugh out loud.

Mission fulfilled.
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