A Bit More Detail

Assorted Personal Notations, Essays, and Other Jottings

Posts Tagged ‘popular literature

[BLOG] Some Thursday links

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  • Bad Astronomy notes the weird polar hexagonal wind systems of Saturn.
  • blogTO notes that Presto is now in fifty TTC stations.
  • The Broadside Blog talks about ways to be a good guest.
  • Centauri Dreams notes efforts to image planets orbiting Alpha Centauri A and/or B.
  • Crooked Timber takes a first look at the origins of Trumpism.
  • Dangerous Minds notes that the Jesus and Mary Chain are set to release a new studio album.
  • The Dragon’s Gaze looks at the testing of the James Webb Space Telescope mirror.
  • Joe. My. God. notes that HIV is now recognized in the US as a carcinogen.
  • Language Hat looks at principles for naming in different languages.
  • Language Log notes that Trumps’ granddaughter did a good job of reading Tang China poems.
  • Lawyers, Guns and Money notes that the TPP is dead.
  • The LRB Blog looks at the continued threat of tuberculosis.
  • Steve Munro looks at 504 King travel times.
  • The NYRB Daily notes the likely future degeneration of Turkey.
  • Seriously Science notes that the most one posts comments on Reddit (and other forums?) the worse they become.
  • Transit Toronto looks at TTC bus route changes planned in light of subway expansion.
  • Window on Eurasia looks at ethnic conflict in Archangelsk, in multi-ethnic Stavropol and among Circassians in Krasnodar, even with Belarusian activists in Smolensk.

[AH] “Days of future past: Science fiction anthology to explore Canada’s alternative realities”

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Author Hayden Trenholm‘s proposed 49th Parallels anthology dealing with Canada-relevant alternate histories with points of divergence after 1867, sounds fascinating. Metro News‘s Haley Ritchie had an enlightening interview with Trenholm on the subject.

Sir Wilfrid Laurier said the 20th century would belong to Canada – to be fair, it didn’t quite turn out that way, but what if it had?

In honour of Canada’s 150th birthday, Bundoran Press Publishing House is planning a science fiction anthology exploring alternative histories and futures – what would have happened if the country took a very different turn.

[. . .]

Trenholm’s anthology, titled 49th Parallels, will be filled with short stories by authors across Canada exploring unexpected twists in the country’s history and future.

Trenholm is crowdfunding on IndieGoGo to raise some extra money to better pay writers. So far he’s raised around $1200 for the project, which will be published in fall 2017.

The writers submitting to the anthology will have 150 years to choose from to warp history – including the invention of penicillin, the first radio transmission across the ocean or even confederation.

“The real purpose of doing that is of course to turn a mirror on the society we now have,” said Trenholm. “People tend to think that the way things are is the way things had to be – but of course that’s not true.”

Written by Randy McDonald

November 15, 2016 at 9:00 pm

[URBAN NOTE] “Montrealers mull over best way to pay tribute to Leonard Cohen”

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Allan Woods at the Toronto Star reports on the debate in Montréal as how to best memorialize Leonard Cohen.

Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre, who was in Jerusalem when the news emerged, wrote on Twitter Thursday night that the city would honour one of its best-known citizens, one of the few who was able to straddle the city’s linguistic divide.

Coderre wrote that, in the meantime, “I will profit from my voyage to say a prayer for Monsieur Cohen at the Wailing Wall and bring back a rock from Jerusalem out of respect.”

Outside Cohen’s Montreal home, which overlooks a small park and is several strides from the city’s main street, Saint-Laurent Boulevard, fans contributed flowers, photographs, fedoras, candles, cards, cassettes and even a Montreal bagel, to a makeshift memorial.

[. . .]

“It’s a good question that we’re all kind of thinking about. It’s on my mind, too. I’m struggling to come up with an answer for it,” said Zev Moses, executive director of the Museum of Jewish Montreal.

For Montreal Jews, Cohen was a figure who challenged its religious traditions, but went on to become a source of pride, giving other Jews a sense that they were “cool,” Moses said.

“What do you even say about this giant and what he meant for the Jewish community, to the country and to so many people around the world?”

Written by Randy McDonald

November 13, 2016 at 1:45 pm

[URBAN NOTE] “Montrealers make pilgrimage to Leonard Cohen’s old haunts”

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This second Laura Beeston Toronto Star article is a more personal engagement with different Montrealers and their interactions with Cohen.

Leonard Cohen is about as Montréalais as the smoked meat on my plate.

But, in fact, the waitress at The Main Deli Steak House says that the enigmatic Montreal poet used to order Baby Back Ribs “presque toujours,” followed by a piece of cheesecake.

I’m sitting in his spot, something that happened by instinct. The corner booth of the Saint-Laurent Blvd. staple has a great view of the entire restaurant: a modest open-concept kitchen, famed meat in the window and pictures on the wall of its most legendary patron, who came by regularly until about four years ago.

Unpretentious, The Main hums along as if nothing happened last week. No Leonard Cohen songs are playing over the radio and the mixed crowds of friends and families brunch in a light mood on a Saturday afternoon.

It’s been three days since the world discovered Cohen died, yet somehow he still feels very present.

Poet Mark Abley recently wrote about the “subconscious influence” that Cohen has in Montreal, quoting the man himself from The Favourite Game: “Some say that no one leaves Montréal.”

Written by Randy McDonald

November 13, 2016 at 1:30 pm

[URBAN NOTE] “Montrealers make solemn pilgrimage to Leonard Cohen’s home”

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Laura Beeston’s article is the first of three recent articles in the Toronto Star about Montrealers’ reaction to the death of Cohen.

Montrealers continued to mourn on Friday, as a memorial to the late, great Leonard Cohen grows with each passing day.

Swelling and waning all day, crowds made their solemn pilgrimage to 28 Rue de Vallieres, where the famous poet and songwriter owned a home, laying flowers, lighting candles and listening to his famous baritone blast through a boom box decorated by a black fedora.

The mood is sombre. Real tears fall down the cheeks of those who have gathered here; a sense of loss is visceral. What is Montreal without its patron saint of songwriting?

“We love him, I will not say we loved him. We love him,” said Chantal Ringuet, who published a French-language anthology Les revolutions de Leonard Cohen last April (published by PUQ in 2016), which features artists, translators, researchers and personal essays about the prolific poet.

“I think that he had this ability to help us dream, to love, to live through the difficult moments… and he was what we call a passeur in French, a bridge builder between cultures.”

Cohen is part of the Canadian literary canon, but Quebec — and especially Montreal — also fiercely claim him as their own, and one of the few symbols, other than the Habs, that unite both English and French Montrealers with pride.

Written by Randy McDonald

November 13, 2016 at 1:15 pm

[BLOG] Some Sunday links

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  • Antipope shares a guest essay by an author pointing out how duelling was a social plague.
  • ‘Nathan Smith’s Apostrophen shares an essay noting that being a Donald Trump supporter who reads gay romance is a contradiction.
  • Beyond the Beyond notes new European Union interest in defense integration.
  • blogTO reports that a Torontonian designed the new Starbucks holiday cup.
  • The Broadside Blog’s Caitlin Kelly wonders how much our parents shape us.
  • D-Brief looks at Semantic Scholar, an AI tool for scholars.
  • The Dragon’s Tales reports on methane humidity near Titan’s surface and an active drainage system.
  • Joe. My. God. notes the interest of Florida attorney-general Pam Bondi at the interest of serving in the administration of Donald Trump.
  • Language Hat shares a lovely poem translated from the Russian.
  • Lawyers, Guns and Money notes the upsurge in hate crimes post-election in the United States.
  • The LRB Blog shares one man’s memories of Leonard Cohen.
  • Marginal Revolution notes the problems of Saudi Arabia.
  • The NYRB Daily notes the largely negative effect of the Internet, and social media, on the election.
  • Savage Minds notes how anthropology teachers can teach the Trump election.
  • Towleroad shares RuPaul’s horror at the election.
  • The Volokh Conspiracy argues the Gary Johnson candidacy helped Hillary, though by not enough.
  • Window on Eurasia argues that a state ideology would make Russia totalitarian.

[URBAN NOTE] “Leonard Cohen’s Montreal: refuge and escape”

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Robert Everett-Green’s essay on the role of Montréal in the life of Leonard Cohen, published after the release of his latest album earlier this fall but before his death, is a beautiful piece of work.

Donald Brittain’s 1965 National Film Board of Canada film Ladies and Gentlemen … Mr. Leonard Cohen shows its subject, who had yet to make his first recording, wandering down the Murray Hill path while reading in voice-over from his 1963 novel, The Favourite Game. “The park nourished all the sleepers in the surrounding houses. It gave the children dangerous bushes and heroic landscapes so they could imagine bravery. It gave the muses and maids winding walks so they could imagine beauty. It gave the young merchant princes leaf-hid necking benches, views of factories so they could imagine power.”

Cohen discovered the romance of Westmount, and its sadness, too, as his friend Irving Layton pointed out. He mythologized the chic women who “float into dress shops or walk their rich dogs in front of the Ritz.” He was of that world; but as a Jew and a poet, was also separate enough to remark that “Westmount is a collection of large stone houses and lush trees arranged on the top of the mountain especially to humiliate the underprivileged.”

There are a couple of large churches on the route Cohen would have walked to the Shaar. He went to school with kids from those churches, at Roslyn Elementary and Westmount High, both imposing buildings where anglophone Christians and Jews mingled as they no longer do in the borough’s more diversified school structure. Cohen biographer Sylvie Simmons says that between one-quarter and one-third of Westmount High students in Cohen’s day were Jewish. He was exposed to Christian pageants at school, and had even gone to church with his Irish Catholic nanny, laying the basis for a lifelong fascination with Christian imagery and rhetoric.

Cohen’s spiritual side never completely detached from the carnal, of course – Murray Hill had its “necking benches,” where adolescent desire ran up against the stern sexual mores of the 1950s. From his earliest teen years, Cohen’s Montreal also included the neon-lit zone of clubs and cabarets that flourished along St. Catherine Street, where he would dream on the sidewalk about the sacred debaucheries going on inside.

His first public performance with music was in one of those places, in the Birdland jazz club above Dunn’s Delicatessen, where in 1958 he read a poem over an improvised piano accompaniment, a form of delivery made fashionable by Beat poets. His Montreal also included McGill University, where he imagined he was participating in a colonial rewrite of Brideshead Revisited, while serving as president of a Jewish fraternity.

Written by Randy McDonald

November 11, 2016 at 10:45 pm