A Bit More Detail

Assorted Personal Notations, Essays, and Other Jottings

Archive for August 2018

[NEWS] Five links on Canada and North American integration in the era of Trump

  • This John Ivison article noting Canada and Mexico need to be united on trade issues versus Trump’s United States still makes sense, and can be read at the National Post.
  • MacLean’s last month took a look at what Mexico’s new president, AMLO, meant for bilateral Canadian-Mexican relations and wider North America.
  • Freezing out Canada from NAFTA negotiations is apparently a Trump tactic presented in The Art of the Deal. Business Insider reports.
  • The proposed terms of the NAFTA renegotiations, which involve higher wages for workers, may have a minimal effect on Canada. Global News reports.
  • Is it possible, as suggested at Quartz, that the renegotiated NAFTA might play to the benefit of Canada?

Written by Randy McDonald

August 28, 2018 at 11:00 pm

[URBAN NOTE] Five city links: Montréal, Québec City, Asmara, São Paulo, Krakow

  • This Ryan Diduck article at CultMTL taking a look at the MUTEK electronic music festival and Never Apart, evoking what I suppose might be called midtown Montréal, is wonderfully evocative.
  • The mayor of Québec City wants to increase immigration to his metropolis, the better to deal with labour shortages. CBC reports.
  • Guardian Cities takes a look at the famously Italianate 1930s capital of Eritrea, Asmara. What future does it face as the country opens up?
  • Guardian Cities reports on how lethal being a graffiti artist can be in São Paulo.
  • This Dara Bramson article at Protocols sharing a first-hand perspective on the revival of Jewish life in Krakow is beautiful.

[URBAN NOTE] Five Toronto links: 650 Parliament, real estate and housing, 514 Cherry, Bombardier

  • Gilbert Ngabo reports on the understandable frustration of the many hundreds of tenants of the St. James Town tower of 650 Parliament Street, left to collect their belongings in lines in the stifling heat after a 6-alarm fire and facing months of potential homelessness, over at the Toronto Star.
  • blogTO notes that a majority of Torontonians are willing to imagine moving to the suburbs on account of spiraling real estate prices.
  • Are the affordable housing programs being put forward by John Tory and Jennifer Keesmaat plausible? The Toronto Star considers.
  • Steve Munro notes that the 514 Cherry streetcar route is now no more, merged into others.
  • The four Bombardier streetcars damaged by recent flooding in Toronto will be out of service for months as they are cleaned and repaired. CBC reports.

[BLOG] Some Tuesday links

  • Bad Astronomer Phil Plait shares the latest from exoplanet PDS 70b, which has a gain in mass that has actually been detected by astronomers.
  • The Crux considers what information, exactly, hypothetical extraterrestrials could extract from the Golden Record of Voyager. Are the messages decipherable?
  • D-Brief shares the most detailed map yet assembled of Comet 67P, compiled from images taken by the Rosetta probe.
  • Karen Sternheimer at the Everyday Sociology Blog writes about the way changing shopping malls reflect, and influence, changes in the broader culture.
  • Hornet Stories notes that, while Pope Francis may not want parents of gay children to cut their ties, he does think the parents should look into conversion therapy.
  • JSTOR Daily links to a paper examining how beekeeping in early modern England led to the creation of a broader pattern of communications and discourse on the subject.
  • Language Hat shares the story of an American diplomat in 1960s Argentina, and his experiences learning Spanish (after having spoken Portuguese) and travelling in the provinces.
  • Language Log shares a biscriptal ad from Hong Kong.
  • The LRB Blog shares a story told by Harry Stopes about a maritime trip with harbour pilots from Cornwall.
  • Roads and Kingdoms shares an anecdote of a family meal of empanadas in the Argentine city of Cordoba during the world cup.
  • Starts With A Bang’s Ethan Siegel explains why, in the early universe, the most massive stars massed the equivalent of a thousand suns, much larger than any star known now.
  • Towleroad shares Karl Schmid’s appearance on NBC Today, where he talked with Megyn Kelly about HIV in the era of undetectability.
  • Window on Eurasia notes the many obstacles placed by the Russian government in the way of Circassian refugees from Syria seeking refuge in their ancestral North Caucasus homeland.

[PHOTO] Two zinnia, Dovercourt Road

Two zinnia #toronto #dovercourtvillage #dovercourtroad #flowers #pink #orange #zinnia #latergram

Written by Randy McDonald

August 28, 2018 at 12:00 pm

[REVIEW] Box 4901, Summerworks

I learned of the existence, at this year’s incarnation of the SummerWorks theatre festival, of the play Box 4901 through a post at critic Drew Rowsome’s blog. The mention in the first paragraph that the playwright was Brian Francis sold me entirely on the show. Francis, for me, stands out particularly for his second novel the 2011 Natural Order, in the course of which he first created a character undeserving of sympathy and then managed to persuade me into shedding tears of sympathy for her. (It still does that.) At that point, I was ready to go down to the Theatre Centre on 1115 Queen Street West to catch a performance, even taking a visiting friend down with me to take in the show last Sunday.

Box 4901 is an autobiographical play. In 1992, while still in the process of coming out in the southwestern Ontario city of London as a student at the University of Western Ontario, Francis placed a personal ad in the local paper looking for contacts. He received dozens of replies to his ad, but left 13 unanswered. Box 4901 is structured as Francis’ systematic, belated, responses to this answers, each answer getting portrayed by a different actor on the stage, Francis himself delivering his response behind a lectern on that same stage.

One thing that I found fascinating about this storyline was the amount of distance. The distance in time was not so significant–the language of the ad and of many of the answers could well appear on any of the online social networking platforms that I use today–as the distance in mentality imposed by speed. (My only encounter with said was via a Sunday school teacher of mine who briefly tried to persuade her students to protest against the local paper sharing ads for same-sex couples; my cohort, happily, responded with confusion to this.) The call-and-response nature of the personal ad may be eternal, but the era of the personal ad stands out from my experiences for its slowness and disconnection. Replies would necessarily have to take days, even weeks, to be dispatched; meetings would need be arranged meticulously in detail, in an environment rather more hostile than now. Box 4901 did a great job of communicating the tenuous nature of the community being knit together; it let me, a theatre-goer, get a vidi sense of the mindsets of the time.

I rather liked the performances. The different actors, interviewed by Rowsome at his blog, all did great jobs with their material, presenting different sorts of characters delivering their lines in ways alternatively silly or sensuous or sincere (and, in at least one memorable case, all at the same time). Francis began his performance by noting that he was not an actor by training, and while that may be true that self-evaluation undersells his performance. Francis was a perfect straight man for his actors, someone more than capable of sharing his memories of the past, of delivering self-aware and wise commentary on his own past and his own community in a way that connected with the audience. All the performers, Francis included, did a great job of bringing together a vivid depiction of a past just outside of easy recall.

If Box 4901 has a flaw, it lies in its tight focus, on its drawing from the particular experiences of a single man looking back for the first time in his adult life at a particular moment in his life. What would future productions of Box 4901 look like? Will they be altered by the process of reflection? How reproducible is this play? I can only say that I was very lucky to have been able to catch Box 4901. I hope others will be able to be able to share in this particular theatrical experience.

(If you are curious to see others’ take on Box 4901, see the reviews of Glenn Sumi at NOW Toronto, Sam Mooney at Mooney on Theatre, Martha Schabas at The Globe and Mail.)

Written by Randy McDonald

August 27, 2018 at 11:59 pm

[PHOTO] Noontime pink rose after rain, Dovercourt Road

Noontime pink rose after rain #toronto #dovercourtvillage #dovercourtroad #flowers #pink #roses #rain #latergram

Written by Randy McDonald

August 27, 2018 at 11:16 pm