Friday, April 14, 2017

Two Long Days

The title of this post is a bit of a tribute to School of Fish and their song "Three Strange Days."  Today may end up fairly full, but as it is Good Friday and many things are closed, it naturally can't be quite as long.

Wednesday started off as a fairly normal day, but I did have to stay longer at work on this major presentation coming in about two weeks.  I've been cracking the whip on the consultants as well, but there are many smaller, random things I am called upon to do.  I finally got away at about 7:15, which was the absolute latest I could stay, since I had a concert to get to!  I quickly walked up to Massey Hall, just stopping briefly for a sandwich at Subway, which I ate along the way.  I was quite worried about being late, but I make it there with a bit of time to spare.  I was really there to see Tinariwen, but the opening act was Dengue Fever, and I thought it was worth checking them out as well.

Dengue Fever is an interesting band.  They were formed in California by a group that wanted to combine psychedelic rock with Cambodian/Vietnamese elements.  They quickly recruited a singer who could sing in Khmer.  (Lately they've added a few songs in English into the mix, but the majority of their music is in Khmer.)  The bass player is a giant!  I just read that the singer ran into major visa issues and was nearly deported, though they seem to have straightened them out for now.  What was interesting was that the touring line-up had a different musician on keyboards (who also played saxophone in places that were flute on the recordings).  I enjoyed them, but some of the people around me thought they were a bit of a novelty act.  They played a tight set: 7 songs in about 45 minutes.  I believe they played Cannibal Courtship and Uxu off of the album Cannibal Courtship, but I am not certain.

Anyway, Tinariwen came on right after 9 and played an amazing set, though I wasn't as familiar with much of the material, so I suspect it is mostly off Elwan (the latest album) and Emmaar, neither of which I have really listened to as much as their older albums.  This actually makes the third time I've seen them - twice in Chicago (once in Millennium Park for a free concert).  I'm reasonably sure that the founder, Ibrahim, was at both the Chicago concerts (at one point he was sidelined by illness and then by family issues).  Everyone except Ibrahim wears elaborate head scarves, which just seem so exotic.  (I may be wrong, but I think at the Chicago concert, there were female back-up singers, but this was a stripped down unit.)  Ibrahim was on stage maybe 40% of the concert last night, but it was memorable when he was there.  It was a very solid concert.  On the way out, I heard one guy laughing to another about how it was a "Toronto thing" that older, middle class white folk (like his professor) would come out in droves to support world music.  Maybe Toronto has that in common with London, though at a smaller scale.  Anyway, it was a pretty exhilarating concert and helped make up for some of the stresses of the last few weeks.  I'll get Tinariwen back into my listening rotation and definitely listen more to the last couple of albums.

Because I knew the seats in Massey Hall were extremely narrow and tight, I left my laptop bag and everything at work (a good call).  This meant that I had to get up even earlier and get to the office by 7:30, in order to get the laptop and meet up with a group travelling out to a regional meeting.  I decided I ought to bike it, since I wanted the bike later in the day.  So I was out biking the city streets at about 6:45!  That is the earliest I have ever biked to work, and while it was nice that the traffic was light, it isn't something I plan to do again.

Unfortunately, I was about 5 minutes late (having to print out something for the meeting), and then we ran into two accidents on the highways, so in the end we were about 15 minutes late.  It was a strained meeting (not because we were late), but we got through it.  Back at central HQ, I managed to make a back-up copy of all the pages in my U.S. tax return and mailed that off.  (I'll try to finish the Canadian taxes over the weekend at some point.)

Then we had a meeting at Toronto City Hall.  It ran from 2:30-4:30; it was kind of strange planning a meeting that late right before a long weekend, but at least the core people showed up.  Everyone else split after that, but I had to go back to the office to help my manager on the presentation.  I had thought I would stop off at Robarts on the way to the Toronto Reference Library, but I just didn't have time.  In the end, I just biked straight over to TRL.  I was actually a minute or two late, but the reading hadn't started.

I was there to see Kelly Clare read from Mitzi Bytes.  She did read, but only a very short section.  The time was largely spent on an interview and then a Q & A session.  I enjoyed it.  I'm glad that I heard her defend her book.  She explicitly wanted a female character who refuses to apologize (or try to change) even when some of her actions have hurt others' feelings (which indeed upsets quite a few readers).  At the same time, she was pretty thrilled to have written a beach novel that was actually being sold in Loblaws and other grocery stores.  It will take a while for me to get around to reading and reviewing this novel, but I think I shall, and now I have a better understanding of what she is going for.  I have enjoyed poking around on her blog (hoping to make note of the two or three authors besides Virginia Woolf by whom she was inspired).  She has a good sense of humor and is very enthusiastic about so many things.  I particularly liked this post, not only because she picked up on something I noted in my review of Unless by Carol Shields.  It also will prompt me to try to move Woolf's To the Lighthouse and Mrs. Dalloway up a bit in my reading list (they would make good summer reading, n'est-ce pas?).

I stayed through all the questions but skipped the book signing.  I had just enough time to request Rosenquist's Time Dust, since the copy I borrowed from Robarts has two pages torn out!  So it was a productive evening after all, even though I had to ride home in the dusk.

Today, I think I will try to ride my bike again, as it is the last nice day for a while.  I'll probably be fairly sore tonight...  My plan is to start off at the Power Plant (which should be open) to see the Maria Hupfield exhibit, which closes in about a month.  Then I'll put in 2-3 hours at work, trying to catch up on a few things.  Then swing by the AGO (and see if I can pre-book tickets to the O'Keeffe exhibit, which opens next week).  Then up to Robarts to return a couple of books.  Robarts is open, but Pratt is not unfortunately.  And that should be plenty to do for what ought to be my day off.

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