Monday, August 28, 2006

Agassi's Final Bow

One of my favourite, quirky possessions is a tennis ball from the US Open 2002 Final, widely considered a classic match. It was here that Sampras beat Agassi to win his 14th slam and he retired soon afterwards.

Tomorrow I fly to New York for the Open where Agassi will be playing in his last tournament before retiring himself. I feel so fortunate to have seen Agassi, not only in the prime of his career, but at every slam I've attended. Maybe I'm his good luck charm and he doesn't even know it.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Dubai Bound

I'm beginning to feel a little stressed. I'm moving continents in two weeks, I don't have anywhere to live when I get there, and I have to complete an enormous amount of work on my thesis as soon as I arrive. There are no clear surfaces in my loft - everything is covered in chapter drafts and academic articles and books. Upstairs my floor is a mound of clothes and shoes and bags that I'm trying to fit into two suitcases. Today I dropped $100 at the drugstore on things I can't get in the UK.

While waking up at 2am and having my mind race with things I have to do is not an unusual phenomenon, I'm looking ahead at my calendar and not seeing an end to the stress. What to do? Well, create my own end to the stress, of course! So tonight I booked a five day trip to Dubai at the end of October with my favourite travelling companion. Now while I'm whirling in the chaos of moving and working, I can dream about lying on the beach and getting lost in the souq.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

The Ultimate Stones Mix

The BBC announced that (I Can't Get No) Satisfaction is the UK's favourite Rolling Stones song. Predictable. Having seen the Stones in concert four times and owning every Stones album made before 1981 (not to say that the albums post-Tattoo You aren't worth listening to, but they aren't exactly rush-out-to-purchase records) I am often asked to make Stones mix albums for friends. And I don't even put (I Can't Get No) Satisfaction on these mixes. You Can't Always Get What You Want is the best Stones song but I will say that the poll's finding of Sticky Fingers as the best album isn't a bad choice. Want the best Stones mix album? Here it is:

1. Brown Sugar
2. You Can't Always Get What You Want
3. Gimme Shelter
4. 19th Nervous Breakdown
5. Sympathy For The Devil
6. Midnight Rambler (live - from Hot Rocks)
7. Under My Thumb
8. Wild Horses
9. Angie
10.Tumbling Dice
11. Happy
12. Can You Hear Me Knocking
13. Miss You
14. Emotional Rescue
15. Shine A Light

Saturday, August 12, 2006

4:48 Psychosis

Tonight I saw the Sarah Kane play 4:48 Psychosis at the Summerworks Theatre Festival. I first encountered the work of Sarah Kane in 2000 during a theatre course in my MA program at Kings College London. In 2001, the Royal Court Theatre ran a season of Sarah Kane's work and I saw almost all her plays here, including 4:48 Psychosis. It was one of the most riveting moments of my life - I did not realize I was crying until the lights came up and I was overwhelmed by the rawness and emotion and beauty of such a stunning piece of theatre. In a sentence, the play is a chaotic meditation on the disintegration of the mind from mental illness.

The play is almost like a long poem, and I suppose can be interpreted in a few different ways. But the way this director interpreted the play was just...terrible. The original production had three actors who assumed various roles (patient, doctor, witness) and rotated as such. But the Summerworks performance had the actors take specific roles which they maintained throughout the play - patient, doctor, and the witness that was portrayed as some kind of blood soaked zombie. By assuming static roles and having tremendously long monologues throughout, the intentional chaos of the play wasn't communicated at all. The play was also overacted, sometimes embarrassedly so, and this stripped the beauty out of Kane's words.

The Royal Court performance made wonderful use of props and lighting - a large mirror was hung on a slant above the stage, which reflected a second mirror that lay on the stage. As one actor counted the serial sevens, another wrote the numbers on the mirror - but backwards, so the hanging mirror displayed the numbers in the correct form. It was a beautiful portrayal of the delicate nature of chaos. Tonight's performance, on the other hand, had a transparent plastic curtain smeared with fake blood and a handheld flashlight. Sigh. I won't go as far to say that this performance was a disservice to Kane's work, but it was appallingly disappointing. For a better idea of how brilliant the Royal Court performance was, here is a review of it.

I wanted to quote some of 4:48 Psychosis here and have spent over an hour trying to choose a passage. I could just reprint the entire play, but in the end I chose this:

Sometimes I turn around and catch the smell of you and I cannot go on I cannot fucking go on without expressing this terrible so fucking awful physical aching fucking longing I have for you. And I cannot believe that I can feel this for you and you feel nothing. Do you feel nothing?

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

A Tennis Snob No More

I realize that I'm a bit of a tennis snob. I fly to Wimbledon and the US Open every year (not to mention the other tennis tournaments that I haul myself onto a plane for) and though I'm generally in Toronto in August, I never go to the Rogers Cup. It's not as if this is some hick Canadian tournament - it's an ATP Masters Series event with the best players in the world competing for a purse of $2.45 million US.

It was a fun night - especially as I got to explain the entire game of tennis to the friend who accompanied me (and scored the tickets). There was a brief moment of utter hilarity when a racket was referred to as a bat but apart from that, I realized that I would make a killer tennis announcer. York University is in the middle of nowhere and frankly, was an ugly, scary place to be. But I was impressed with the main stadium of the Rexall Centre - it was like a cute, mini version of Arthur Ashe Stadium. We watched both Federer and Hewitt win their matches, but my prediction right now? Nadal takes it.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Now I May Address You

I have been hunting for months for a new address book. My travels over the past little while have been complicated by sheets of paper with addresses on them, that I then lose and have to rewrite for the next trip. And with my impending move to London in a few weeks time, my hunt was taking on a slight tone of desperation.

You see, I'm pretty particular about the kind of address book I use. It has to be small, but not tiny - just a little smaller than postcard size. It has to be divided into A-Z pages, but not have columns on the actual pages. And ideally, it has to close with a band like moleskines do. And behold, I found it today in the brilliant little bookstore Type on Queen West.

Why am I so anal about these things, you ask? I just like what I like. I'm not anal, I'm just precise.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Spotted Last Night

Spotted last night on the billboard at a church on Woodbine Avenue:


Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Smashing Records and Getting Smashed

My birthday smashed a whole bunch of heat records. (My mother, of course, insisted that it was just as hot when I was born and I should have tried being nine months pregnant in this kind of heat.) The humidity was unbelievable. Walking outside yesterday I had to continually take off my sunglasses to wipe the condensation off them.

So by the time dinner rolled around and I was celebrating with some friends in a restaurant downtown, we were all thirsty. Very, very thirsty. At the end of the evening, the little plastic giraffes, monkeys, and donkey-type figurines were piled into one of my empty bellini glasses. A friend peered in the glass and said, "Wow. It looks like African Lion Safari in there."

I was blown away by the bazillion cards, flowers, presents, phonecalls, emails and e-cards I received yesterday. It made me feel very loved and very special (sniff!). A huge thank you to everyone!

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Happy Birthday To Me

I received a wonderful birthday card today - a friend made all these little individual cards depicting events that have occurred on my birthday. (Thanks, D.) So this is what's been going down on August 1:

1498 - Christopher Columbus lands on "Isla Santa" (Venezuela)
1774 - The element oxygen is discovered by Wilhelm and Priestley
1785 - Caroline Herschel becomes first woman discoverer of a comet
1834 - Slavery abolished in British empire
1867 - Blacks vote for first time in a state election in South (Tennessee)
1873 - The first cable streetcar in America begins operation on Clay Street Hill in San Francisco
1902 - The United States buys the rights to the Panama Canal from France
1944 - Anne Frank makes the last entry in her diary
1960 - Aretha Franklin makes her first secular recordings, which includes "Today I Sing the Blues"
1964 - Beatles' "Hard Day's Night" single goes to #1
1971 - Sonny and Cher debuts on television
1978 - The soon-to-be Dr. Sarah Williams is born
1981 - MTV broadcasts its first video, "Video Killed The Radio Star" by the Buggles

There has also been a lot of war on my birthday, but why dwell on that? All hail me, it's my birthday!