Friday, October 20, 2017

Change of Plans

What a difference a day makes.  I had been feeling just a bit weary at work (and frankly more than a little fed up with the incompetence I was encountering every day).  Also, I haven't been sleeping well, waking up several times a night.  So I thought I would take it kind of easy and work from home today.

After I made this decision, some low-level cold took over my body, as if I couldn't actually enjoy any time off (or at least the saving of the commute time) and I had to actually be sick.  That said, there was still a lot to do today, so I pressed on and got several things accomplished.  Then around 4, I went to bed and slept until roughly 7.

I had already decided I wasn't going to be able to go to the Seven Siblings' show tonight (and I am still undecided about going at all).  I am definitely not going to take my daughter swimming on Sat.  There is a small chance that I will attempt to take her on Sunday, but that would require a very quick purging of this cold.  I also will not be taking the McMichael art bus.  If I want to take it, it will have to be next Sunday.  It's also extremely unlikely I will see Blade Runner 2049 or Life After this weekend.  I may be able to see the movie next weekend, but if I want to see the musical, it will probably have to be mid-week (and I am already seeing George Walker's The Catch on Thurs.).

The only thing I am likely to do tomorrow is go over the bridge to the mall, pick up some cold medicine (everything in the house is expired) and maybe a burrito from the food court.  I mostly need to rest up, since I am determined to make it to Toronto Cold Reads on Sunday night.

So if you will excuse me, I am off to bed again.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Gord Downie - RIP

As surely everyone in Canada knows by now, Gord Downie of the Tragically Hip has passed away.  Obit here.

I don't have any funny stories of running into him in a ski shop or anything like that.  I do like their work a lot.  I assume I became aware of the group in 1993 or so, when I moved to Toronto, though I think I had heard the name of the band before that (not that they ever got much airplay on US radio).  I definitely picked up Fully Completely then and fell in love with the album.  Over time I picked up all of their music, though curiously one of the last CDs I bought was Day for Night, which quickly became my second favourite album.

I saw them in Chicago in 1995, playing at Metro (they actually had a 3-night stand, but I can't recall which night I saw them).  I didn't really try to follow them after that, but when I moved back to Toronto in 2014 I had more chances to see them.  They had this short outdoor set, somehow related to the Hockey Hall of Fame, where they played 3 or 4 songs, including 50 Mission Cap.  Then I saw them at the ACC for the Fully Completely Tour, and then I (reluctantly) paid the scalper prices to see them on the last Toronto show on the epic, final tour.  That's probably a fair number of times to see them for someone who didn't really grow up with them as part of the soundtrack to their lives, as many younger Canadians have done.

What impressed me most about Gord's determination to keep creating music and to give back to the fans one last time, even after the cancer diagnosis.  On top of the final tour, he recorded two solo projects -- Secret Path, about the tragedies of residential schools, and Introduce Yerself, a double CD, which is supposed to hit stores on Oct. 27.  It's an awful shame that he didn't live to see it released, but I assume he was happy with the final product.  I've preordered it and should have it soon.  I have no idea if the Hip recorded any material in his final year.  I assume there won't be any of this "Free as a Bird" nonsense where they take rehearsal tapes and other unreleased material and try to shape it into an album.  But it is possible that there is material that would have met Gord's approval for being released, and if so, we'll hear about it soon enough.

I do sometimes wonder what I would do if I knew I had just a year to live.  I'm not sure I could do anything differently to make more of an impact at work.  I've contributed to a number of travel demand models, particularly the ones in place in New York and in Vancouver, but this isn't the kind of thing one person can put on their shoulders and bulldoze through in a year.  I'd probably be better off quitting and travelling to the places I really want to see (or see again): London, Paris, Berlin, Amsterdam, Madrid, Prague, St. Petersburg (for the Hermitage).  I suppose I could cut down my reading list to 20-25 stone-cold classics that I just have to read (Austen's Emma, Dickens's David Copperfield, Trollope's The Way We Live Now, Faulker's Snopes Trilogy, Fante's Bandini Quartet and Lowry's Under the Volcano as a start).  And I would probably get more serious about knuckling down and finishing up writing these plays.  Right now, I have this all spread out on the assumption that I have another 30 years or so to accomplish everything, though that is by no means guaranteed.  I'll see what I can do to accelerate some of these things before I hit 50.

Anyway, so long, Gord, and thanks for all the music and the memories.

Art Bus to the McMichael

Somehow this completely slipped under my radar, but this summer the McMichael ran an "art bus" from downtown Toronto to the gallery on Sundays.  Now it did sort of assume you wanted to spend all day at the gallery, since you would have to leave from Spadina and King at 10 and then leave the McMichael at 3:30 (to get back around 4:30).  This was initially only going to be July and August, but it seems it has been extended through October.  Some details here.

I suppose if you pack a lunch, it might not be bad to wander around the gallery and then stroll around on the grounds, perhaps taking time to read or reflect in the woods, and then make one's way back downtown in the mid-afternoon.  I assume the leaves are just starting to change up in Kleinsburg, and it is probably quite pretty now.

It costs $10 for the bus, plus you then need to pay admission to the gallery.  Given that parking alone is $7, and in my case I have to rent a ZipCar, it would still be cheaper for me to take the bus, even if bringing up to 2 more people along.  I'll have to consider this seriously, though I suspect I don't have the time this Oct.  I have no idea whether they will continue to extend this into the winter (probably not) or bring it back next year.  I don't really know if it is such a rousing success as the Stratford bus (and hopefully the Shaw bus).  It is after all somewhat limited if it only runs on Sundays.  Mostly, I don't think people know about this new service, so I thought I would at least mention it on the blog.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Climate change plays at Toronto Cold Reads

I have been out late a few nights in a row now, and I am just catching up on the blog.  Last Sunday, I went out to Toronto Cold Reads.  I mostly go out of curiosity, since I don't have a piece coming up for a while,* and I have not had much luck winning the writer's challenge (only once so far).  The music guests have remained quite good, however.  And I usually am inspired to get a page or two of dialog down in a notebook while waiting for the action to start, so that's a good thing.  (I also seem to write well in jazz clubs, so I may start going on a more routine basis to The Rex, but maybe at this point waiting until the spring...)

I think I mentioned that I sort of got roped into reading a small part on the previous outing.  This time I didn't even sign up, but then they handed me a small part anyway.  Kind of odd.  I can guarantee you that I am not going to get stage-struck and start wanting to be an actor.  I've never had that particular ambition.  I didn't like the piece so much on the read-through, but it actually worked considerably better in front of the audience.  That is actually a useful lesson.  There was one other really strong piece (or at least strongly-acted piece) about a director kind of stuck in limbo (directing children's theatre) while his "discovery" is on the fast-track to success.

At the reading, I also met Brianna, who was on Team Tango with me for the 3Fest pieces, so that was neat meeting up with her.  I'm not sure she saw the full pieces either (I was out of town for the readings at Jarrett's place).  Anyway, it will be quite a surprise when they go up, probably in 3 weeks or so.  After the Cold Reads event ended, there was a sneak preview of the Seven Sibling's Future Fest.  I hadn't really planned on staying, but David Straus was there to do a short scene from his piece (written by Genevieve Adam), so I stuck it out.  Brianna (who is obviously a SF fan), David, Genevieve and I ended up on the same SF trivia team.  We did quite well on the books (no thanks to me) but not very well on the true/false questions.  I definitely cost us a point on the movie trivia, though others cost us more points on the true/false.  We lost by one point to another team, which is unfortunate, as Brianna and I would have scored tickets to the Future Fest.  At any rate, I haven't decided if I will see Genevieve's piece or not.  It actually starts this Friday and there are 5 or 6 shows over the next two weeks, so I have a bit more time to decide.  After this preview event wrapped, I finally made my way home and got a bit of sleep, trying to get ready for Monday.

At any rate, I thought I would mention that next Sunday (Oct 22) looks particularly intriguing, especially for those that aren't part of the inner circle.  There will be 5 shortish plays about different aspects of climate change, written by some fairly heavy hitters of the Toronto scene, including Jordan Tannahill, Anita Manjumar (author/star of the Fish Eyes Trilogy) and Marcia Johnson.  All are supposed to be in attendance, which would be incredibly awesome.  Also, there will be Jarrett Rusnak's TV pilot Humanity.  I'm very curious to see what this is about.  Finally, David Healey, who has a wicked sense of humour, will present his writer's challenge piece.  This looks like an absolutely can't-miss night.  Some additional details here.

* I am nearly finished with my short homage to Waiting for Godot, but I just don't think it would work at Toronto Cold Reads.  I think I will wait and submit it to the December SFYS, since I can't make the November one.  What I might do in the meantime is send off the opening scene of Straying South, which is in pretty good shape.  I also sort of "owe" the writing group a much tightened version of Dharma Donuts, but I just haven't had any time to really think about it lately.  After I do that, I can decide whether to work more on Final Exam or The Study Group.  I think it would be useful to see if they thought there was enough dramatic tension going on or the stakes are simply too low for too long (I guess I kind of already know the answer if I am asking the question...).  Anyway, plenty of things to work on when I can find the time.

Summer 2018

It's getting to be that time of the year when Shaw and Stratford announce their summer seasons and begin to try to bring in the subscribers.  Shaw had made an announcement quite a while back, whereas I only recently learned the Stratford line-up.  Actually, this Toronto Star article has more information about the casting at Stratford, so it might be worth checking out.

I have to admit, it is a bit amusing to see Shakespeare being performed at the Shaw (Henry V).  It's sort of an interesting experiment if their audiences will go for it.  I'm not terribly interested in the Shaw plays they are putting on, nor do I want to see Ruhl's Stage Kiss.  I might have made the trek down to Niagara-on-the-Lake for In the Next Room, though probably not.  I assume it will eventually turn back up in Toronto (it was at Tarragon in 2011).  No question the big, hot ticket will be Mythos: A Trilogy — Gods. Heroes. Men, written by (or perhaps rather adapted by) Stephen Fry, and he will playing some of the major parts.  I'm not particularly star struck by him, but this seems like an opportunity not to be missed (even if it might transfer to a Toronto stage at some point).  So I expect I will be on the Shaw bus once this summer, though if there are no matinees of the Mythos piece then that will become a much more difficult decision.  Anyway, I'll cross that bridge when the full season schedule comes out.

Stratford has a few plays of interest or potentially of interest.  At first glance, I wasn't too interested in Eduardo De Filippo’s Napoli Milionaria!, despite it being billed a "comic masterpiece."  However, I read a bit more about the play, and it sounds quite clever.  No question I would be happier if George Brown did it, but I'm likely to try to see this, assuming I can find tickets that aren't in the eye-popping range.  I'm also fairly likely to try to catch Shakespeare’s Coriolanus, directed by Robert Lepage.  I don't know whether he will tone down the spectacle or not.  This may not be the absolute best way to watch Coriolianus for the first time, but I'm not really that likely to watch a conventional version of the play anyway.

So that might be sufficient for my Stratford needs (to go down for a really long day).  However, I am at least willing to consider The Tempest, directed by Cimolino, with Martha Henry as Prospero.  I'm really feeling the gender-flipped thing is a played out trend that frankly bores me, but the cast is really strong.  I don't know if there will be one weekend where I could catch all 3 plays, but if so, I might try to do that.  I don't think there is anything else at Stratford next season that really grips me.  I'm sure that they will do a great job with Long Day’s Journey Into Night, but I saw a very solid production in Chicago, and I'm just not likely to go again.  (Maybe if towards the end of the run, they offer some steeply discounted tickets I would consider it, but I'm not expecting to go.  Again, I retain the right to change my mind after the reviews come in.)  I'm actually more likely to get my O'Neill fix by seeing Denzel Washington on Broadway in The Iceman Cometh (this is a limited run in March/April 2018).  I haven't entirely decided whether to go, but I am seriously considering it.  Anyway, I find it helpful to look ahead to these summer events as we slide into the cooler months of the calendar.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

11th Canadian Challenge - 8th review - The Fish Eyes Trilogy

This is another one of those hybrid reviews where I review the published version of a play and the play in performance.  In this case, The Fish Eyes Trilogy by Anita Majumdar is still playing at Factory Theatre.  Only for one more day (Oct. 15), however, so sorry about that, though I did promote the show a couple of weeks ago.  The 3 pieces all sort of fit together, with most events happening over a roughly 2 year span (summer + the last year of high school and one year beyond) in the lives of three young women from Port Moody, BC.  However, there is one high school assembly and one high school dance that are particularly critical.  Once you have seen one play, then you have some sense of what happens in the other two, though each of the women has a different perspective on the events.  I'm really not going to be able to discuss these plays (beyond noting that they deal with cliques, bullying, betrayal and cultural appropriation) without going into some detail about the plot, so turn away now if you don't like SPOILERS.

SPOILERS, like seriously...

The plays are an interesting fusion of theatre and Indian dance (generally performed expertly but in one case a non-Indian performs the dances quite crudely).  The book itself is quite interesting as it has quite a few illustrations, many of which attempt to capture the key dance moves (though they do look a bit odd when frozen) but others focusing on props or other characters to provide a bit more context to the words.  I'm not sure it was entirely necessary to include them, but on the other hand, I did see the plays performed by the author.

Majumdar recently decided to close out the evening with Fish Eyes (it is actually the first one written and the first in the book).  I don't have a perfect memory, but it seems to me that for this current incarnation of the trilogy at Factory, I believe she cut out just a few lines from Fish Eyes where the Aunty figure is somewhat disgustedly preparing for Halloween and calls a trick-or-treater a hermaphrodite and hands over some uncooked rice.  I think this was softened just a bit, but I could be wrong.  I am certain, however, that one plot point in Boys with Cars was dropped where Gustakhi, the adult guardian, is talking about her life back in Punjab where she felt her daughter had besmirched the family name, and convinced her son to kill his sister (her daughter), but he was so weak-willed that he killed himself afterwards.  I guarantee you that I would have remembered that.  I think it was pared out since there is a limit to how much a character can antagonize an audience and then still be used as a "wise elder."  Plus, it may have just seemed like too much mirroring after Naz's parents also abandoned her, as well as Majumdar may just have felt there was already enough talk about honour killings by Indians in the news and she didn't need to add to it.  I didn't notice any cuts in Let Me Borrow That Top, but it was already the shortest piece and the last one written.  I may have missed it while reading, but I think a line or two about how Candice hadn't personally attacked Naz was added in performance to Let Me Borrow That Top (or perhaps this was just something that was discussed during the talk-back).

I'll try to squeeze the events of the trilogy into a bite-sized package.  Again SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS:
Naznin (from Boys with Cars) is dancing at a festival, when she catches the attention of Lucky (one of the very few South Asians to be considered cool and to have white friends, such as Buddy). While Naz is normally self-conscious (when not dancing), she defends herself (verbally) when Lucky teases her, which briefly earns her some respect from the cool crowd and, more importantly, impressed Lucky to the point that he asks her out and they become a couple.  While they are spending time with each other, Meena is having to help out her PE group choreograph a dance sequence drawing on Indian dance moves (as she is also a classically trained dancer). Her group, which includes Buddy's girlfriend Candice, is going to perform a dance to "Survivor"* by Destiny's Child at a school assembly.  When the day of the assembly arrives, Lucky has travelled to Calgary to try to get onto Bhangra Idol.  Naz goes up into the bleachers and sits next to Buddy.  During the dance sequence, he grabs her hand and forces her to give him a handjob of sorts.  She is frozen and blames herself for not doing more to pull her hand away.  After the assembly, Buddy sneaks away with Candice and they have sex in his car, but she has bigger ambitions (to study Indian dance in England) and they break up very shortly afterwards.  (Meena, who has been harbouring a huge crush on Buddy (to the point she turns down an opportunity to enter a dance competition in India) sees them break up, and she tries to swoop in and get him on the rebound, but finds out that he really is a drip.  Fortunately, it isn't too late for her to still go to the competition.)  After the assembly, rumours about Naz start swirling around, and Candice's friends start attacking Naz (verbally and physically).  Then Lucky breaks up with her and skips town.  The adults are worse than useless.  The principal suggests that Naz stay home to not distract the other students during finals, and Naz's parents are so shamed that they sell their house and move to Dubai, leaving her to fend for herself.  Naz moves in with Gustakhi and makes a living doing Indian dances for white people's weddings.  She gets a gig to perform at Candice and Buddy's shot-gun wedding, and apparently agrees to go 1) to see if Lucky turns up and 2) to kidnap Buddy and burn his hand while Candice is forced to watch.  (Even as she outlines this plot, it is clear she is only half-serious and realizes she has been watching too many Bollywood movies.)  She does not see Lucky.  She briefly talks with Buddy, who wants her to understand he didn't have anything to do with how she was shunned.  And she sees that Candice is 9 months pregnant.  She fiercely dances her dance, then leaves the building, stealing a mountain bike (and abandoning her watch over Lucky's abandoned car).  The stage directions say that she is leaving Port Moody, though this wasn't completely clear in the moment.

So that's a lot to unpack.  There is no question that these young women make bad choices, generally in an attempt to win or hang onto boyfriends.  In Naz's case, her entire future seems wrecked due to sexual abuse from a boy and then the inability of adults to place the blame correctly, let alone to protect the victim.  She is doubly or indeed triply victimized, and it seems like she might well have been able to move on sooner if 1) her boyfriend had at least listened to her once and 2) her parents hadn't completely over-reacted.  One interesting fact that Majumdar had mentioned during the talk-back was that there were so few South Asian children in Port Moody that they actually found it better to scatter and not hang out together, and it is particularly odd that Meena seems to have no idea who Naz is, given that they both are so steeped in Indian dance.  Indeed Naz says that Gustakhi isn't a dance teacher, so she must have learned from someone, but apparently not Kalyani Aunty, Meena's teacher.

At any rate, if there were so few Indian families in Port Moody was there so much face to be lost that the parents had to move to Dubai?  And I realize that social services can't be everywhere, but can a family just up and leave their teenaged daughter on the streets of Port Moody and no one finds out about it?  Dramatically, Naz is far more upset over Lucky's betrayal (whereas as an outsider, I can understand his actions, which are consistent with being a teenage chucklehead -- and feel perhaps he is somewhat unjustly vilified for not being as strong/noble as he might have been), but I find her family truly horrifying.  While Meena has much better closure (though much less trauma to overcome), it does seem that at the end of Boys with Cars, Naz is finally prepared to stop blaming herself for what happened and is starting to move forward with her life.  Not that this will be an easy road at all.  (I was saddened but not especially surprised to learn that the author experienced sexual trauma herself and this is certainly the main motivating force behind Boys with Cars.  She states that she has moved on, and thus Naz may as well, though Naz has a much weaker support structure in place.  If Majumdar ever does write a sequel, I would hope that Naz somehow gets it together to get into Langara and then eventually to reclaim her place at UBC.)

I didn't have as many reservations about Boys with Cars as did this reviewer, though I do think it is fairly unlikely that Naz would be performing at Buddy and Candice's wedding.  Even if she did agree to take the job (hoping to see Lucky), how likely would Candice want to see Naz dancing when her own dreams of going to the Coventry School of Bhangra were dashed (and I'll come back to this in a bit)?  She does come to the realization that she should have been mad at Buddy and not Naz, but I still can't imagine she really wants to see her.  Also, Buddy mentions in passing that his parents are punishing him for getting Candice "in trouble."  While this is a fairly pathetic wedding, held in a school gym, just how likely are the parents to hire an Indian dancer, even one as cheap as Naz surely is?  This may have been necessary as a plot-device, but it does seem improbable.

I largely do agree with the reviewer's reservations about Let Me Borrow That Top.  It was interesting getting to hear Candice's perspective.  She is sort of a clumsy version of a Kardashian, and Majumdar did like the fact she is one of the boldest and least apologetic characters in the whole trilogy.  The fact that she has no talent and is just a "stealer" is not really that important.  I also liked the vlog conceit, but I agree it was a little hard to understand why there would be flashbacks, even if she moved away from the laptop to signal that the action was now happening in a different time/space.  Maybe those bits could be rewritten so that the entire piece takes place "in real time" on the vlog.  One thing that wasn't really clear is just how well off Candice was.  She apparently lives with her mom and a bunch of sisters, and the father has cleared out (but is perhaps financially supporting the family).  Her mom is largely out of the picture, and Candice is basically raising herself.  Clearly, one of the biggest questions in this part of the trilogy is did she really get into the Coventry School of Bhangra.  No question she believed she got in.  I wonder if the answer is that this school is just not actually that good (certainly Lucky is portrayed as a mediocre performer), though it may be one step up from a diploma mill.  Mr. Sharma may have been willing to overlook Candice's shortcomings as a dancer if she paid full fees and perhaps the fact that she has a few thousand followers didn't hurt either.  (It's a whole different question whether this school had sufficient accreditation to allow Candice to get a student visa to the UK, but this takes place a few years back before the UK really started to crack down on immigration policy.)  I guess the fact that Candice could just fly off to England and plan to put this kind of money down means that while she talks like an airhead, she must have reasonable financial backing (which sort of undercuts the fact that she and Buddy seem to have nothing in Boys with Cars).

I do hesitate to raise the last point, but Candice seems so determined to learn Indian dance and is even a bit ruthless in breaking up with Buddy that I am surprised that it doesn't seem to even cross her mind to have an abortion when she finds out she is pregnant.  In Canada, it wouldn't even matter if her parents were against it, as her privacy rights and the fact that abortions are covered by MSP in BC would prevail.  Of course, she might have religious objections, but that is a whole piece of her back story that we didn't get.  It just doesn't quite hold together with the other things we know about Candice.  It would obviously change Boys with Cars a lot if she didn't reunite with Buddy, but it does seem like a bit of a missed opportunity not to at least raise the subject.

Anyway, this review has really focused on the heavier and somewhat darker aspects of the plays, but there are quite a few hilarious moments that partially balance the drama, particularly when Naz gets caught up in talking about her favourite Bollywood actresses or when Kalyani Aunty says something outrageous like how she wants to keep the mangoes away from white people.  (Gustakhi is nowhere near as fun and plays a much smaller role in Boys with Cars, particularly when the business about her children dying is cut.)  Meena talks quite a bit about how she wishes she could just have a normal life, but dance is integrated into all aspects of her life, so she brushes her teeth as a kind of dance.  Also, when she imagines Buddy falling in love with her, it is a scene out of Bollywood.  Naz has an amusing moment when she says that watching the CW channel doesn't prepare you for your first kiss.  Even Lucky has an funny line when he says that Miley Cyrus licking a hammer is art, but when he does it, everyone just thinks he's drunk.  On the whole, The Fish Eyes Trilogy is a significant and rewarding achievement, though definitely it is better to see the plays (and the excellent dancing) rather than just reading them on the page.

* It does seem quite cruel that Naz has bad flashbacks of the assembly whenever she hears "Survivor," so it isn't at all an empowering anthem for her.  Her dance routine is set to Chris Brown's "Kiss Kiss" or a remix of it, and indeed, she spends a fair bit of time defending him, saying that "both sides" of the story needed to be told.  Again, sort of another interesting wrinkle if one wanted to follow that thread.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Off-track this weekend

I wonder if I am still trying to recover mentally from the sustained push we had at work to get this huge report out.  There is still some remaining business (like an extensive appendix) for which I am responsible, and yet I am not feeling motivated to begin.  Or rather I start working on it and then am called away on a number of other tasks.  I threatened to work from home for several days to avoid distractions, but that wasn't actually feasible, since I was also needed at public meetings and hearings and there were many small but urgent tasks I was called in on (making new slides and reviewing other documents).  Also, the other senior advisor did work from home several times, and that left me to supervise the juniors.  All that said, I do need to buckle down and take this seriously, though I don't know if I will start this weekend.

I actually feel completely off-kilter right now.  It's the afternoon but I am just wrapping up breakfast, and I need to get to the store and probably to the library before it closes.  That doesn't really give me any time to take my daughter swimming, which I promised to do.  Or to go to the gym (this past week was truly terrible in terms of how late I had to work and also not being able to bike to work).  But there is no point in beating myself up over it.

I think today I will do a quick shopping trip and bike up to the library.  That still should hopefully give me time to take my daughter swimming.  Then I may be able to go to the gym in the evening and hit the other grocery store for the special bread that she likes.*  What I won't do is try to watch Blade Runner or Life After.  That would just be too much, but they should still be around next weekend, which is also when we will get around to putting up Halloween decorations.

I assume I will be a bit more on the ball tomorrow.  The main problem is that it is likely to rain and even storm tomorrow.  What I am thinking about doing is heading downtown (despite the rain) and check out the Ryerson Image Centre and ideally the AGO, since I need to renew my membership.  The rest of the time I could spend at work and then towards the evening, I would go off to Toronto Cold Reads.  At least that is a tentative plan that makes some kind of sense to me, especially if I carry out all the transit using a TTC Day Pass.  (And then looking ahead on Monday, we get to see The Psychedelic Furs, which should be great.)

Why did I get up so late, aside from general malaise?  Last night, I really wanted to push through and finish reading Shashi Tharoor's The Great Indian Novel.  This is an odd novel that takes the main characters and structure of the Mahabharata and applies it to Indian/Pakistani politics from roughly 1917-1984.  It's quite clever, but I had to turn to Wikipedia to unravel who the various characters were supposed to represent, since I didn't really know much about Indian politics beyond Gandhi, Nehru and Indiri Gandhi (and even that mostly comes from the movie Gandhi and Rushdie's Midnight's Children!).  But it is also on the long side (400+ pages), and this is following right on the heels of reading Philip Roth's 400 page novel about baseball and politics, The Great American Novel.  I'm quite glad that the next few novels are in the 200-300 page range, just so I can feel I am accomplishing something.  Anyway, nobody forced me to read these books, but I did feel strangely obligated to get through them and onto the next thing.  Now I am paying the price.  With that, I really do have to get going.

* I did manage to square the circle, but only by sending my son off to the library in my stead.  (It is so great that he is finally able to do these sorts of tasks, and he is fairly good-natured about doing so.)  Then I was able to escort my daughter around the neighbourhood, selling raffle tickets.  It's fairly impressive that she can overcome her natural shyness when she really wants something.  She sold far more than I expected (largely because my neighbours are really nice, though of course I will be obligated to reciprocate down the line...).  Then we went swimming and were able to get a few more groceries on the way home.  Ideally after I eat dinner and relax a bit (and digest), I should go back over the bridge to the gym, but I may pass.  Then tomorrow I have a fairly busy but not overwhelming day.