Tuesday, April 27, 2010

From Dogs to Opera to an Art-filled Walk . . . with a few movies thrown in

In case, Saturday's post wasn't enough cuteness, I give you Henry, the little guy we dog-sat for our daughter this weekend. Cute as Henry is, he confirmed for us that we will not be bringing home a dog of our own any time soon. In the year since we lost Skeena, while we've had to tolerate more deer (and raccoons!) in the garden, we've also enjoyed much more freedom. Henry, as a much smaller dog, is easier to bring along on walks. He's also easier to have inside, settling down quite nicely in his corner basket. And he doesn't mind staying at home for five or six hours by himself. Still, the having-to-get-dressed by 9-ish to take him out for a bathroom walk, not to mention scooping up warm leavings in a plastic bag and then looking for a convenient garbage container, never mind being out for a walk and deciding it would be nice to stop in for a coffee or some gyozas or some . . no, wait, we've got the dog . . . So for now, we'll borrow occasionally, but will remain dog-free. Sorry, Henry!

In other breaking news, here's what I wore to the opera Saturday night . . .
Mozart's Marriage of Figaro, a rousing production, satisfying on all counts -- I've been listening to it on my Ipod for the last few weeks, so was well primed. What I hadn't expected was how well the subject matter harmonized with my recent reading material: Hilary Mantel's A Place of Greater Safety, about the French revolution. Of course da Ponte's libretto and Mozart's delightful music focus on the comic, but Beaumarchais' plot, revolving as it does around the outrageous feudal entitlements of the Count to his servants' wives, was, for its time, a rather bold questioning of other aristocratic rights, by extension. And no heads had to roll . . .

I can't believe how much we fit into the weekend. Besides our visit with Nola (and her great grandparents and her wee second cousin, a great-aunt and uncle, etc., etc.,), our dog-sitting, the opera, we also saw two very good movies. At the cinema, the brilliant Argentinian film (in Spanish with english subtitles) The Secrets in their Eyes. This is among the best films we've seen in several years: the beautifully lit scenes, stunning camerawork (especially the soccer scene), moving character development coupled with satisfying action scenes (a compelling chase scene), and a plot with just the right number of twists and judiciously provided clues to keep you thinking.
Not, perhaps, quite as compelling, but still very good, on Sunday night we rented An Education -- first of all, as a period piece, this seemed to me to capture its time and place (striving middle-class England, 60s, from an adolescent girl's perspective) very well. And every single actor in this film turns in a solid performance, even those who had only very small parts. I'd easily watch this again tomorrow and enjoy it just as much. You might want to as well.

And finally, Sunday afternoon, Pater and I walked to the new Woodwards development to check out the architecture, the art, and to get a sense of how this might be working as a catalyst for badly-needed change in the downtown East side. But mostly, I really wanted to check out this monumental work, a stunning photo-mural which re-creates a riot that took place in the area in the early 70s -- the scene was controversially staged several years ago, to the consternation of the local constabulary (it depicts some historical police brutality -- of which there have been recent examples the VPD was perhaps hoping to play down).

Abbott & Cordova, 7 August 1971, Stan Douglas' 30x50 foot photo-mural depicting Gastown riots of that summer
The mural is better viewed from the interior of the atrium, but you get a sense of its scale from the outside.
Very dramatic. . .
Again, to indicate scale, in the very bottom left-hand corner is the orange "box" that can lift several men up to reach whatever they need to work on. The lift was parked right below/in front of the mural, so that you can see the figures depicted in the foreground are almost full-size. The history is powerfully memorialized, very life-like, a bold reminder to the state that its actions are seen and remembered and have consequences. Again, as with Hilary Mantel's book, and with Mozart, da Ponte, and Beaumarchais' work, it's a particular view of the past rendered by an artist. As such, I'm thrilled to see controversial artwork taking such a central position, even as we in the Arts and Humanities faculties across the country (and beyond) feel increasingly beleaguered and marginalized.
so there you have it: dogs, opera, dress, movies, art, and even the teeniest political rant. . . Just another day in the week of . . .
next up, as promised, an attempt at styling a new jacket . . .


  1. Sounds like a great weekend! You look FABULOUS in that dress and those boots. Yes, the dogs do tie one down, but right now I couldn't imagine life without those little fur people...

    DS seems to love opera, having been introduced to it in lighter, more comic iterations on Sesame Street. Now when I'm out and about with him on Saturday mornings, I put on the local classical station which is usually running opera at that time. He seems to settle in and enjoy it. I've been saying that we need to find an opera performance that would be a matinee or abbreviated enough to be kid-friendly. I think he'd really enjoy the music, drama and costumes.

    Can't wait to see your jacket!

  2. I agree with Deja Pseu, you look fab in that dress...dogs and cats are a responsibility...I live it too!

    The East side could benefit from a decent development...look how great Yaletown is now and it used to be the run down garment district which was dark and sinister...I have hope that this project has the same positive effect.

    You really had a lot of fun on your weekend!

  3. I LOVE your opera outfit - a perfect black dress. And that riot happened on my 11th birthday!

    We have never had pets - my hubby had dogs as a child though - and although I know my boys would have liked/would like a cat or dog, you itemized perfectly why we don't have one! Add to this the fact that the boys probably wouldn't be the ones doing all the walking and cleaning up! Patricia

  4. Thanks Pseu -- if you ever do find a child-friendly opera and take DS, I'd love to hear how it goes. Except for the too-long period of sitting still (even we find it tough by three hours -- those seats aren't too generous!), there's so much to appeal to kids and the association with so many cartoons doesn't hurt.
    Hostess: After two Golden Retriever lifetimes, several years with a Boxer, 18 years with one cat and now 10 or so with another one, it's time to try less responsibilities for a while, imho. I suspect we will have another dog at some point, but perhaps not while we're able to do so much travelling.
    Patricia: So you remember that riot, then, at least from an 11-year old's perspective. You'll have to check out this mural at some point -- it's quite stunning.

  5. How interestng to find that they are making art installations about that riot. I was living in Vancouver although I didn't attend the 'event'.

    At the time they were just starting to improve the area and a lot of suburbanites came downtown expecting to have a flower power love-in. Instead they got riot police on horseback who were treating everyone as illegal drug pushers!

    I still have the front page of a newspaper showing the shocked and terrified faces of people being pushed into a doorway by a policeman on horseback.

    I'd love to see what they've done and how well they recreated it.

  6. You look fabulous in your dress for the Opera and it sounds like you had a fabulous and very interesting and thought provoking weekend as well. It always intrigues me when ones various interests and pursuits mesh together in ways that makes one think a little differently.

  7. I'm exhausted just reading the contents of your weekend. I would love to see that opera Mozart is my favourite.
    The whole dog thing is such hard work, yes i've shed 10 pounds but as you say the things having one curtails is endless.
    Police brutality in Canada? We have you pegged as a tolerant & mild nation I am so suprised.

  8. Wow - I thought it got easier after the children grew up.
    If you are interested I have a super Seville giveaway on my blog this week.

  9. Northmoon: I hope you get a chance to see this installation, especially since you remember the event itself so clearly. There was considerable coverage a couple of years ago when Douglas was staging the riot to photograph -- wish I'd been able to see that!
    Mardel: Thanks, Mardel -- yes, I'm always interested in those kinds of synchronicities and synergies as well -- rich and productive overlappings . . .
    Alison: I think our reputation is generally fairly well deserved, but sometimes it gets used to hide behind -- and sometimes it motivates the hiding . . . That 1971 riot was a distant echo, I guess of the soixante-huitards, and I suspect it must have seemed very threatening to the powers-that-were.
    Small Fabric: Yes, I thought so too . . .


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