Gingerbread Houses, Vancouver Style

Modern Gingerbread House
This morn­ing, I heard an inter­view on the radio about a com­pa­ny Cre­ative Room who, in coop­er­a­tion with Van­cou­ver Spe­cial is spon­sor­ing a char­i­ty auc­tion of non-tra­di­tion­al gin­ger­bread hous­es. To quote their web site:

Hid­den behind a thin veneer of jujubes and smar­ties, the ubiq­ui­tous form of the gin­ger­bread house has stood unchal­lenged for too long! The malig­nant plague of cook­ie-cut­ter hous­ing which fouls sub­ur­bia can­not be invit­ed into our homes this hol­i­day sea­son. No longer rep­re­sen­ta­tive of our mod­ern lives, held in place by no more than icing and a repress­ing lay­er of nos­tal­gia, the con­ven­tion­al gin­ger­bread house must make way for the gin­ger­bread house of today!

Cre­ative Room and Van­cou­ver Spe­cial are chal­leng­ing Vancouver’s best archi­tects and design­ers to rethink the gin­ger­bread house in a form more fit­ting for our mod­ern life: to rein­ter­pret the gin­ger­bread house with­in a mod­ern context.

Hous­es are to be judged by a pan­el cho­sen from Vancouver’s pre-emi­nent archi­tects, design­ers, and artists. Entries will be made from edi­ble mate­ri­als, con­struct­ed at a scale to fit with­in an 16” cube, and dis­played at Van­cou­ver Spe­cial. The win­ning entry will be fet­ed loud­ly bring­ing (more) fame and for­tune to its illus­tri­ous design­ers. Entries will be auc­tioned off such that they may grace the liv­ing rooms of a select few Van­cou­ver homes this hol­i­day sea­son. All pro­ceeds from this event will be donat­ed to Piv­ot Legal Society.

While I don’t have the funds or space to house such a beau­ti­ful and tasty cre­ation, I thought a few would be worth show­ing here. Go to the auc­tion if you want to see more pics of them. Some are pret­ty spec­tac­u­lar, like this mod­ern ‘laneway’ house (part of the Van­cou­ver den­si­fi­ca­tion plan), and a recre­ation of the Moon mono­lith scene from 2001 a Space Odyssey:

What a Month!

Is it real­ly Hal­loween again? The month, like Scar­bo the ‘half gob­lin, half ghost’ char­ac­ter from Gas­pard de la Nuit, a poem and the third in a set of 3 extra­or­di­nary piano pieces by Mau­rice Rav­el, has twitched, jerked and reared up and dropped down, pirou­et­ting like a threat­en­ing demon (at least in terms of my nail-bit­ing regard­ing the Stock Mar­ket and the US Pres­i­den­tial Campaign)  and now is about to vanish:

Mais bientôt son corps bleuis­sait, diaphane comme la cire d’une bougie, son vis­age blémissait comme la cire d’un lumignon,—et soudain il s’éteignait.

But then, his body would change, became as blue and diaphanous as the wax of a can­dle, his face as pale as can­dle grease – and sud­den­ly he would be extinguished.

– The orig­i­nal poem by Louis Bertrand

(The first few mea­sures and an excerpt that goes on a lit­tle longer are below. It’s tru­ly some of the most men­ac­ing and spooky music that Rav­el ever wrote, I think, and appro­pri­ate for this dark evening):


He he he, creepy enough for you?

Earlier in the Month

I guess the piano music excerpt is part­ly because piano music is part­ly on my mind. Last week I got to a con­cert at the Chan Cen­tre by Piotr Ander­szews­ki, a very inter­est­ing pianist who was mak­ing his return engage­ment to the Van­cou­ver Recital Soci­ety. He played Bach, Mozart and Schu­mann, and I’d have to say that it was the Mozart that I real­ly liked best. Mozart Sonatas, like the Sonata in C minor, K 457 that he played are often played (bad­ly) by chil­dren. Teach­ers give them to their stu­dents fair­ly ear­ly in their devel­op­ment, part­ly because the music seems sim­ple and ‘easy’ to play. The fact is, when a real­ly good pianist plays them, the music reveals how com­plex and real­ly dif­fi­cult it is. I did­n’t always love what Ander­szews­ki did; some­times, par­tic­u­lar­ly in the Schu­mann Humoresques (op. 20), he would take long float­ing paus­es, and play some pas­sages so soft­ly and weak­ly that it was almost as if they were being whis­pered. Even if his read­ings seemed to lose the thread of con­ti­nu­ity at times, I have to admit that he made me think — a lot, and that’s some­thing that not every per­former can do for you. I think we’ll be hear­ing more of him in the future on the inter­na­tion­al con­cert cir­cuit. In some ways, he remind­ed me of Radu Lupu, a Roman­ian pianist who was par­tic­u­lar­ly active in the 70s and 80s, and who won an Edi­son award for his Schu­mann (includ­ing the Humoresques as well!).

Last Night

Pam and I got an invi­ta­tion to attend anoth­er live film­ing of a tele­vi­sion sit­com pilot, this time in the South Burn­a­by area in a stu­dio right by the River­way Golf Course. The pilot, called Mem­o­ry Lanes and was pro­duced and cre­at­ed for the CBC by one of the actors in it, Ryan Stiles, of The Drew Carey Show and Whose Line is it Any­way? fame. While it is fun to see, it is also a real edu­ca­tion, because near­ly every scene is filmed a few times, and it was a real plea­sure to see Janet Wright, who plays Brent But­t’s moth­er Emma Leroy on the series Cor­ner Gas prac­tice her craft in per­son. Ms. Wright was a per­fec­tion­ist, sculpt­ing her deliv­ery and ges­tures with each take, and always mak­ing it bet­ter (and fun­nier). For me, she stole every scene she was in. I found out from her bio that she’s direct­ed over 40 pro­duc­tions at the Van­cou­ver Arts Club the­atre (in addi­tion to work all over Cana­da, includ­ing the Strat­ford Fes­ti­val). It shows. I hope I’ll get to see more of her; I real­ly gained new respect for just how much a great actor can add to a sit­com character.

Oh right, the sit­com? Mem­o­ry Lanes may make it to the CBC line up next year. I’d say it was a bet­ter than aver­age script, and the char­ac­ters and sit­u­a­tion show some promise. In some ways, it remind­ed me of Wings, anoth­er sit­com that revolves around a pair of odd-cou­ple broth­ers who end up run­ning a fam­i­ly busi­ness. In the end, it will be the writ­ing that makes or breaks it. Lets hope it gets a chance, some­thing that nev­er hap­pened to the pilot of All the Com­forts that we saw near­ly a year ago.

Undecided Voters

John Gru­ber, in Blaz­ing Fire­ball point­ed out this hys­ter­i­cal pas­sage from a short essay by David Sedaris in the New York­er Mag­a­zine (in their fea­ture, Shouts and Mur­murs — !) called sim­ply ‘Unde­cid­ed’ and I had to quote it as well:

To put them in per­spec­tive, I think of being on an air­plane. The flight atten­dant comes down the aisle with her food cart and, even­tu­al­ly, parks it beside my seat. “Can I inter­est you in the chicken?” she asks. “Or would you pre­fer the plat­ter of shit with bits of bro­ken glass in it?”

To be unde­cid­ed in this elec­tion is to pause for a moment and then ask how the chick­en is cooked.