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Assorted Personal Notations, Essays, and Other Jottings

Archive for the ‘Writing’ Category

[REVIEW] RAGE AGAINST The King (Theatre Artaud), Toronto Fringe Festival (#fringeto, #rageagainsttrilogy)

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RAGE AGAINST The King, a show staged by Theatre Artaud as part of the Toronto Fringe Festival which played at the Robert Gill Theatre, was a show that I had definitely wanted to see. I was curious about this play in its own right, and I had reviewed the two other plays in the RAGE AGAINST trilogy for Mooney on Theatre. What would this one be?

RAGE AGAINST The King was a good play in its own right. The strong cast did a good job of illustrating a script examining issues of fame and creativity in a world where fame is fleeting and memory of our lives shorter.

My fellow Mooney on Theatre reviewer Jonathan Lavallee had a very different take.

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Written by Randy McDonald

July 15, 2018 at 12:00 am

[WRITING] Five links on writing and reading

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  • JSTOR Daily talks about the lending libraries that women like Lizzie Bennet made use of in Georgian England.
  • Jacobin notes the economic argument for providing artists with basic income.
  • How are romance writers responding to the age of Trump? CBC reports.
  • How much is a word worth? This article looks at the history and the arguments. The article is at Medium.
  • We need better storytelling in order to make sense of, and repair, the world. Sujatha Fernandes at Open Democracy writes.

Written by Randy McDonald

July 9, 2018 at 9:00 pm

[MoT] My Mooney on Theatre reviews for the 2018 Toronto Fringe Festival (#fringeto)

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This year again, I’ve been fortunate enough to be able to contribute reviews of shows playing at the Toronto Fringe Festival this year for venerable theatre website Mooney on Theatre.

One way I was particularly lucky this year was in being able to review such a broad diversity of shows, each telling different sorts of stories in different ways. That all of them succeeded is a joy. For people on the fence about attending any one of these shows, know that I definitely recommend each of them.

  • My first Mooney on Theatre review this season was of the Moniquea Marion one-person show #GloriousLoser. The sheer density of her many unforgettable comedic character sketches is impressive, as his her confidence as a performer
  • My second Mooney on Theatre review was of Cluster Fucked, a theory-dense look at the power of Big Data lacking many elements of traditional theatre. That it is such a success, not only instructing but delighting, is a tribute to the project and all involved.
  • My third Mooney on Theatre review was of RAGE AGAINST The Complacent, a compelling drama that takes a look at the compromises we make in life and what we’re willing to do to make a difference.
  • My fourth Mooney on Theatre review this season was of Hooked, a beautiful dance project that shows the power of this medium to tell stories without words.
  • My fifth Mooney on Theatre review this season was of Living Will, a play that looks at the serious issues of aging and end-of-life care with evenhandedness and strong performances.
  • My sixth Mooney on Theatre review was of Upstream Downtown, a fun and theatrically inventive romp through life, of salmon and others.
  • My seventh Mooney on Theatre review was of RAGE AGAINST The Inferno (Jerusalem), a challenging surrealist play (second in the RAGE AGAINST trilogy) powered by the strength and versatility of its performers.

Written by Randy McDonald

July 7, 2018 at 2:45 pm

[META] Four new blogroll links

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  • Writer Jamie Bradburn, a person known for excellent essays exploring the history of Toronto at Torontoist and elsewhere, writes about his goals for new content at his WordPress blog. (Bringing old material from the missed The Grid would be great.)
  • The Island Review is a blog that brings together interesting links about islands. This post, a map depicting the forms of the different minor islands around Great Britain, is fun, is a good start.
  • TVO journalist Steve Paikin’s blog is a great source for information on politics in Ontario. This post takes a look at the first meeting of the new NDP provincial caucus.
  • Author Patricia C. Wrede has a nice blog focusing on writing fiction, as with this post concentrating on well-intended advice that can wreck stories.

Written by Randy McDonald

June 29, 2018 at 9:45 pm

[NON BLOG] On focus and fragmentation

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I have been feeling more than a bit fragmented, more than a bit caught up in a mass of details which need to be attended to but cannot be properly done on account of their sheer number, for some time. My laptop’s hard drive malfunction didn’t help, although the prospect of having much of my data lost permanently is hardly cherry. (At least my photos, my main work, are in the cloud.) The state of the world, similarly, has done something of a number on me, even before the recent election of Ford as premier here in Ontario. Underlying all that, I suppose, is a state of frustration at the way things are going in–among other things–my creative life.

I have been thinking about my recent essay on the need to cultivate our gardens. I like having my gardens in order, coherent and organized and with some goal. My virtual gardens, similarly, should be nicely ordered. It is just that, the way the online world has evolved, that coherence is hard to find. This blog, for instance, is hardly a full representation of what I do. My Twitter account, perhaps sadly, with its links to my photos on Instagram if not Flickr, is probably the best way to keep track of me. But then, even ignoring the gated gardens of Facebook, there is still so much else there. Over at Quora I have been a prolific writer, with my answers coming up in genera Internet searches but not otherwise, not on a platform that is easy to interact with for people not on that site. Medium promises–ever promises?–to be a place for long form writing, but then, what do I write? There is so much to write about, and there is so so very much about the rest of life that is not writing, that I do not know what to do.

Dune and marram, North Rustico Beach #pei #princeedwardisland #northrustico #rustico #beach #dunes #marramgrass #gulfofstlawrence #latergram

I do not know quite how to go from here. Finding a focus–perhaps several focuses–is key to making any headway, to feel as if I’m not trying to shovel away all the shifting sands of a dune. I want something solid I can build on. I wonder if I’m overthinking this: Is it just a simple matter, I wonder, of picking things and sticking with them?

Written by Randy McDonald

June 18, 2018 at 11:58 pm

[WRITING] Five notes about writing in the social networking era

  • This older JSTOR Daily link suggests that, used properly, Facebook can actually be good for its users, helping them maintain vital social connections.
  • Alexandra Samuel’s suggestion, at JSTOR Daily, that Facebook revived the classical epistolary friendship has some sense to it. I would be inclined to place an emphasis on E-mail over more modern social messaging systems.
  • Drew Rowsome wrote a couple of months ago about how Facebook can make it difficult to post certain kinds of content without risking getting his ability to share this content limited.
  • Farah Mohammed wrote at JSTOR Daily about the rise and fall of the blog, now in 2017 scarcely as important as it was a decade ago. Social media just does not support the sorts of long extended posts I like, it seems.
  • Josephine Livingstone at The New Republic bids farewell to The Awl, an interesting online magazine that now looks as if it represented an earlier, failed model of writing. (What is the working one? Ha.)

Written by Randy McDonald

March 13, 2018 at 10:00 pm

[NEWS] Five links in memory of Ursula K. Le Guin

What can be said of the passing of Ursula K. Le Guin yesterday but that it has left the world absent a literary voice it needs?

  • Cheryl Eddy at io9 pays tribute to Le Guin, noting her recent activism against “alternative facts.”
  • Crooked Timber pays tribute to Le Guin, noting a blog symposium there that had never quite come off.
  • JSTOR Daily notes Le Guin’s prescient criticism, in 1975 (!), of a science fiction that was much too retrograde, looking back to past empires and not forward. (That such could also be misogynistic was not a surprise.)
  • At Whatever, John Scalzi links to his Los Angeles Times tribute to Ursula K. Le Guin. Her influence is everywhere, he points out, in the rising generation of writers.
  • At Wired, Jason Kehe notes Ursula K Le Guin’s power to imagine alternative worlds, future difficult for others to imagine.

Written by Randy McDonald

January 24, 2018 at 4:30 pm