Monday, March 28, 2005


Vangroovy! Accelerated city. Rain today, and such rich air. Forsythia and cherry blossoms, mossy grass, rooftops, sidewalks; slickened sweet-scented city on the move.

Monday, March 21, 2005

Sunset Story


Perhaps even more urgent than meeting Steve (see earlier post) is the need to meet Irja & Lucille. This is a fabulous documentary that cuts through the pathos of aging. If you need a reminder of how many common heroes make the world go around, check these two out. Brilliantly conceived.

Meet Steve

Poems from Mairead Byrne on Dead Drunk Dublin. Do check them out. And do meet Steve. Everybody needs one.

Saturday, March 19, 2005

Time flies when you're at war


Europe marks anniversary of Iraq invasion

Associated Press
Saturday March 19, 2005

"From London's Trafalgar Square to the streets of Istanbul, tens of thousands of people across Europe protested against the Iraq war today on the second anniversary of the US-led invasion."

Photo from the 2003 anti-war demonstrations here in NYC.

Thinking of the power of photographs

And why we take them. This led me to Susan Sontag once more. Here's the essay on looking at war that appeared in The New Yorker, and here you can hear her talk about the war in Bosnia. Too bad we couldn't hear Woolf read from Three Guineas at the same time?

Friday, March 18, 2005

Words fail me, Virginia Woolf


If you've never heard her speak, you should. Click here. It's quite unexpected, her voice, I mean. Very Victorian. Clearly Nicole Kidman did not study it in preparation... There is a rhythm to it that seems very much like her line. Giving yes, but playing it out too, enjoying the pull and tug of syntax and really hearing, hearing, the grittiness of the words. Perhaps that's what surprised me. I couldn't resist photoshopping this ubiquitous image.

Thursday, March 17, 2005

The text is the text is the text

Attended a master class at the Julliard on Tuesday with James Conlon, principal conductor of the Paris Opera. A pleasure listening to up and coming sopranos and tenors, and to hear his critique of their performances. Refreshing to note the similarities of disciplines: close reading, close reading, close reading. What does the word mean? What is the music saying? These were his two main themes. One, that the words themselves offer enough clues as to how to sing them, and two, that the orchestration offers what other clues a singer might need. So, pay attention to the word and to the line...good advice for a poet, playwright, or novelist as well. Here are a few of my favourite lines:

"Just in case you were wondering, Mozart does not need pruning..."

"Thank you Mr.__ for pointing out the sound of a double t and a double r. The problem is there is neither a double t nor a double r..."

Wednesday, March 16, 2005


Ah, fashion week in New York. I think the temperature refers to inside the coats...

and I'm not Jenny

Read with the kick-ass Tara Rebel at the Four Faced Liar on Sunday. Definitely recommend her book--the "I'm not Jenny" series is wonderful. Would be great in an undergraduate classroom as it pushes the whole teenage identity drama to a its most complex best. And it does it with cheeky fun aplomb. As well, it's great to read--a good way to introduce students to the power of a prose line, how it can have such flexibility.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

'The Letters of Lytton Strachey' by Paul Levy

Here's an excerpt from Lytton Strachey's letters, a new version recently published. It sheds light on several aspects of Woolf's relationship to both of these men--and is worth thinking about in terms of women and power and genius and in the final analysis, management... Clearly Virginia Woolf was luckier than Dora Carrington.

To Leonard Woolf, February 19, 1909

"The day before yesterday I proposed to Virginia. As I did it, I saw that it would be death if she accepted me, and I managed, of course, to get out of it before the end of the conversation. The worst of it was that as the conversations went on, it became more and more obvious that the whole thing was impossible. The lack of understanding was so terrific! And how can a virgin be expected to understand? You see she is her name. If I were either greater or less I could have done it and I could either have dominated and soared and at last made her completely mine, or I could have been contented to go without everything that makes life important. VoilĂ ! It was, as you may imagine, an amazing conversation. Her sense was absolute, and at times her supremacy was so great that I quavered.

I think there's no doubt whatever that you ought to marry her. You would be great enough, and you'd have too the immense advantage of physical desire. I was in terror lest she should kiss me. If you came and proposed she'd accept. She really really would. "

Saturday, March 12, 2005

Scope Art Fair, Flatotel NY


Frederico Guida was my favourite discovery last night. This wasn't his best painting, but I neglected to bring my digital. There was a series of portraits like this, of people in his neighbourhood in San Marino, Italy. Absolutely burning. The actual brushstokes are much more precise than the quality of this photo (lifted from the exhibit site) shows.
What fun--six floors of a hotel in mid-town turned into one big international gallery. Each room devoted to a different artist/gallery, so it's like going from Frankfurt to Miami, Toronto to Paris, and seeing art on the walls, sculpture on beds, photographs hanging from clotheslines in bathrooms. By the way, Flatotel looks to be not a bad stay for mid-town, though why anyone wants to stay in mid-town is beyond me. I guess it's exciting, but expensive, otherworldly, and so noisy and bright, but yes, I suppose it's a bit of a rush.
Afterward drinks at The Algonquin--that bastion of good service and mediocre cocktails. Quite a world apart from the sharp edges of the altern-a-art world, but a great mid-town oasis.

Maggie Taylor

Artscope: I discovered this artist, showing with a gallery from Atlanta. She wasn't the main event but I was struck by her photographs. They have a painterly quality about them and that's probably because she uses vintage, or archival found images and then works with them in photoshop. They're layered and textured. Do they have an edge, on the other hand?

Crocheted Tree, Toronto Island


I've been uploading...this shot from last summer on Toronto Island. I have no idea who actually created this random installation, but the tree is amazing. The trunk and much of the branches have doilies crocheted over them.

Like a Lampshade in a whorehouse

My Life in Comedy.
By Phyllis Diller with Richard Buskin.
Illustrated. 266 pp. Jeremy P. Tarcher/Penguin. $24.99


"PYLLIS DILLER was first thought to be a tumor. Upon discovering that the mass in her mother's uterus was a fetus, the doctor declared her an ''ugly-looking little thing!'' Her father said, ''Leave it in,'' and on July 17, 1917, she was born at home on newspapers. Growing up, she never got hugs or kisses from her parents, who were so old that her memories of family life are attending aunts' and uncles' funerals. She felt wanted only by her dolls. Decades later, she would joke onstage: ''My parents had to tie a pork chop around my neck to make the dog play with me. . . . When I was kidnapped they wouldn't pay the ransom -- they didn't want to break a ten.''

Wow, now I know where so much of my childhood humor came from! I had no idea... You have to hand it to Diller, she made a career out of mocking herself, so it might not be surprising that she might end up literally cutting herself up... But funny.

Friday, March 11, 2005

Women's hockey to take Stanley Cup!

She threatened, and now she's following through. Governor General Adrienne Clarkson to present the Stanley Cup to the winner of a women's tournament! Go Adrienne!

Thursday, March 10, 2005

Susan Sontag remembered

This link was passed on and I can't resist posting it--a rather bracing but charming recollection of Sontag by academic Terry Castle. It's perhaps a little too soon for such an honest portrait, but the problem of women and mentorship continues to bewilder me. Terry Castle's The Literature of Lesbians is a must have...
Listen to Sontag.

A day at the pond


Here is the first in a series of Barbie slideshows! To view click here.

CK Williams


Reading at the Zimmerlee as part of Writers at Rutgers.

Linda Bacon


Linda Bacon, "Big Strike" Zimmerlee. I just loved this painting--the details and colours.

Wednesday, March 02, 2005


Because today was just that kind of day... Actually, these two donkeys live near Hedgebrook, on Whidby Island. Took these photos when I was on a retreat there. If you can get a chance to go, go!