Snowbound with George on Christmas Eve

Our Patio with the most Snow we’ve ever seen on it

Our patio with the most snow we’ve ever seen on it

You always assume that things will turn out as planned, but some­times they don’t. Pam and I had all but packed our suit­cas­es ear­li­er in the week for a trip to vis­it with my broth­er and his fam­i­ly in Seat­tle, as well as my par­ents, who were going to be vis­it­ing from Bal­ti­more. Moth­er Nature had oth­er ideas.

The fact that Cana­da is enjoy­ing the first coast-to-coast ‘White Christ­mas’ in 40 years is not lost on me, and it is pret­ty out there. Pam and I had a nice time walk­ing in the first of the snow­storms, and it looks like storm num­ber three, which start­ed last night, will dump near­ly as much on us.

The car is not ready to dri­ve on these kinds of roads. We don’t have any snow tires, as we don’t dri­ve that much to begin with and nei­ther of us use it to get to a work­place (unlike the days when I was work­ing in Burn­a­by for IBM). Snow tires are not usu­al­ly need­ed here.

So, here we are, like hiber­nat­ing bears in our cave, look­ing out at the snow. Well, not exact­ly like bears in one key respect: Hiber­nat­ing bears don’t eat, and I’ve been cook­ing like crazy. I roast­ed a chick­en stuffed with herbs and lemon (an old Jamie Oliv­er recipe that I’ve com­mit­ted to mem­o­ry), and yes­ter­day did a large pot roast with car­rots, parsnips, turnips and pota­toes.  This after­noon I baked a tray of oat­meal muffins (after also bak­ing a bunch of cook­ies ear­li­er in the week). We’ve also got some steaks in the freez­er, and since Granville Mar­ket is closed for the next 2 days, we’ll prob­a­bly eat those as well, along with some of oth­er food in our larder, which we stuffed full just in case the weath­er did get worse.

The oth­er thing I did, which I do near­ly every year, was watch Frank Capra’s movie “It’s a Won­der­ful Life”.  For me, it tran­scends movie mak­ing to become a piece of art, the same way that some Nor­man Rock­well illus­tra­tions do. I keep find­ing new details in it, the way you do with any great piece of sto­ry­telling or music. There’s always some lit­tle motif or pas­sage here or there that after the 10th hearing/viewing you sud­den­ly real­ize is referred to or echoed in some oth­er place. Capra’s film also has a lot more res­o­nance now, when the news reports from the States ear­li­er in the evening eeri­ly echoed (or pre­saged?) the talk in the movie of peo­ple being fore­closed on their homes because of not being able to pay mort­gages, runs on banks and acts of char­i­ty. How many peo­ple might be, this evening, need­ing to draw upon char­i­ty for the first time in their lives, the way that George Bai­ley had to?

I noticed that a week or so again, Wen­dell Jamieson of The New York Times wrote a fas­ci­nat­ing reassess­ment of the film, and actu­al­ly found it to be essen­tial­ly a big fat lie, some­thing that he first sus­pect­ed when he was shown the film at school when he was 15 year’s old:

It’s a Won­der­ful Life” is a ter­ri­fy­ing, asphyx­i­at­ing sto­ry about grow­ing up and relin­quish­ing your dreams, of see­ing your father dri­ven to the grave before his time, of liv­ing among bit­ter, small-mind­ed peo­ple. It is a sto­ry of being trapped, of com­pro­mis­ing, of watch­ing oth­ers move ahead and away, of becom­ing so filled with rage that you ver­bal­ly abuse your chil­dren, their teacher and your oppres­sive­ly per­fect wife. It is also a night­mare account of an end­less home ren­o­va­tion.

Holy Cow!  Believe it or not, his opin­ion of the film’s mes­sages actu­al­ly gets harsh­er still:

Many are pulling the movie out of the archives late­ly because of its pre­science on the per­ils of trust­ing bankers. I’ve found, after repeat­ed view­ings, that the film turns upside down and inside out, and some glar­ing — and often fun­ny — flaws become appar­ent. These flaws have some­how deep­ened my affec­tion for it over the years. Take the extend­ed sequence in which George Bai­ley (James Stew­art), hav­ing repeat­ed­ly tried and failed to escape Bed­ford Falls, N.Y., sees what it would be like had he nev­er been born. The bucol­ic small town is replaced by a smoky, night­club-filled, boo­gie-woo­gie-dri­ven haven for show­girls and gam­blers, who spill rau­cous­ly out into the crowd­ed side­walks on Christ­mas Eve. It’s been renamed Pot­tersville, after the vil­lain­ous Mr. Pot­ter, Lionel Barrymore’s schem­ing financier.

Here’s the thing about Pot­tersville that struck me when I was 15: It looks like much more fun than stul­ti­fy­ing Bed­ford Falls — the women are hot, the music swings, and the fun times go on all night. If any­thing, Pot­tersville cap­tures just the type of excite­ment George had long been seek­ing.

Not only is Pot­tersville cool­er and more fun than Bed­ford Falls, it also would have had a much, much stronger future. Think about it: In one scene George helps bring man­u­fac­tur­ing to Bed­ford Falls. But since the era of “It’s a Won­der­ful Life” man­u­fac­tur­ing in upstate New York has suf­fered ter­ri­bly.

On the oth­er hand, Pot­tersville, with its night­clubs and gam­bling halls, would almost cer­tain­ly be in much bet­ter finan­cial shape today. The gam­bling halls would be thriv­ing and a great social expe­ri­ence instead of the cae­sars casi­no slot at EasyMobileCasino.com we have now.

I checked my the­o­ry with the oft-quot­ed Mitchell L. Moss, a pro­fes­sor of urban pol­i­cy at New York Uni­ver­si­ty, and he agreed, point­ing out that, of all the upstate coun­ties, the only one that has seen growth in recent years has been Sarato­ga.

The rea­son is that it is a resort, and it has built an econ­o­my around that,” he said. “Mean­while the great indus­tri­al cities have declined ter­rif­i­cal­ly. Look at Con­necti­cut: where is the growth? It’s in casi­nos; they are con­stant­ly expand­ing.”

In New York, Mr. Moss added, Gov. David A. Pater­son “is under enor­mous pres­sure to allow gam­bling upstate because of the eco­nom­ic prob­lems.”

We ease up on our lot of cul­tur­al behav­iors in a depres­sion,” he said.

What a grim thought: Had George Bai­ley nev­er been born, the peo­ple in his town might very well be bet­ter off today.

Well, I’m not sure that the raunchy Vegas-like Pot­tersville is any bet­ter than the Biff Tannen’s alter­nate Uni­verse town of Hill Val­ley (which doesn’t get a rename, despite the sim­i­lar biz­zaro treat­ment) in Back to the Future II.  I’ll bet that a few choice grotesque zooms on the land­scape of Pot­tersville would have hor­ri­fied the rest of us as much as it did George Bai­ley rather than thrill him that that his town was less bor­ing with him not in it. Capra per­haps didn’t want to hit us over the head with the mes­sage, so it didn’t escape the 15-year old Mr. Jamieson’s cyn­i­cism.

Any­way, apt or not, I still find it a great piece of sto­ry­telling, even if it teach­es us all the wrong things. Jamieson is not alone in his dis­dain for the film. Besides the fact that the movie was con­sid­ered a finan­cial flop (too expen­sive to make, didn’t make back what it cost), Charles Affron on filmreference.com says:

The impe­tus and struc­ture of It’s a Won­der­ful Life recall the famil­iar mod­el of Capra’s pre-war suc­cess­es. Mr. Deeds Goes to Town, Mr. Smith Goes to Wash­ing­ton and Meet John Doe. In each of these films, the hero rep­re­sents a civic ide­al and is opposed by the forces of cor­rup­tion. His iden­ti­ty, at some point mis­per­ceived, is final­ly acclaimed by the com­mu­ni­ty at large. The pat­tern receives per­haps its dark­est treat­ment in It’s a Won­der­ful Life. The film’s con­ven­tions and dra­mat­ic con­ceits are mis­lead­ing. An idyl­lic rep­re­sen­ta­tion of small-town Amer­i­ca, a guardian angel named Clarence and a Christ­mas Eve apoth­e­o­sis seem to jus­ti­fy the film’s peren­ni­al screen­ings dur­ing the hol­i­day sea­son. These are the signs of the ingen­u­ous opti­mism for which Capra is so often reproached. Yet they func­tion in the same way “hap­py end­ings” do in Moliere, where the arti­fice of per­fect res­o­lu­tion is in iron­ic dis­pro­por­tion to the real­i­ties of human nature at the core of the plays.

Maybe I should have just watched Rudolph the Red Nosed Rein­deer instead.

Acrobats at the PNE

Thanks to a real­ly cool gift from my par­ents, a Flip Ultra Video Cam­era, I’m thrilled that now I’ll be able to add not only pho­tos, but now videos of my own to my blog, and plan on doing that from time to time.

Here’s some­thing from the first day I got to use my new toy, at the PNE. We went with my par­ents and had a great time. Once again, the high­light of the day for me (and for the rest of our group, I think) were the Bei­jing Acro­bats. We saw them last year, and were thrilled to see them again. Here’s a short video I did of some of their rou­tines. The light­ing is not ide­al, but most of the time I think you can get the gist of what they are doing. Not bad for a first try, I hope:

Filmed In Front of a Live Audience

Before my work­ing week­end, Pam and I were lucky enough to be able attend an event that was, at least as the come­di­an Simon Rakoff and ‘Mas­ter of Cer­e­monies’ described, the first time some­thing like this had hap­pened in 10 years in the Van­cou­ver area: the film­ing of a Sit­com pilot in front of a live stu­dio audi­ence.

Because of an email from the CBC that I answered (I don’t know how I end­ed up get­ting it; prob­a­bly from hav­ing signed up at the CBC web site at some point), at about 5:15 on Fri­day, Pam and I found our­selves shiv­er­ing in line at twi­light in front of what looked like a non­de­script busi­ness office, at the cor­ner of First Avenue and Gilmore Avenue in Burn­a­by. We had both just come from work near­by, so we were for­tu­nate that it was easy to get to. The con­ces­sion truck was feed­ing chili to the actors and crew (and it smelled good), but soon we were ush­ered in to a messy col­lec­tion of sets, cam­eras, and bleach­ers inside. After a few min­utes, Mr. Rakoff hand­ed out tick­ets for a bunch of draw­ings for door prizes that would go on as the evening’s film­ing pro­gressed, and explained our duties for the evening. “Peo­ple watch­ing TV aren’t too smart, he said, “so we want you to help out, and laugh so you can show them where the jokes are. Your laugh­ter is an impor­tant part of the process of bring­ing this show to life.” OK. Bring on the jokes. But first, the set­up.

The name of the show was ‘All the Com­forts’. That much we knew already. Here’s the gist of the sit­com that we were to see, cre­at­ed for us the first time that evening:

The Bunion fam­i­ly is head­ed by Mac and Bren­da, who, in their retire­ment years, are hop­ing to take off with their new motor home to cel­e­brate their gold­en years alone togeth­er. Unfor­tu­nate­ly, their plans are thwart­ed by their daugh­ter Susie, a ditzy 20-some­thing who has nev­er left the nest, and the recent return of their always opti­mistic and timid but né’er do well son, his pret­ty but abra­sive wife and their 2 kids (2 typ­i­cal pre­co­cious and cute sit­com chil­dren). Mac is a grouchy rub­ber-faced Jack­ie Glea­son type who just wants to be left alone to enjoy his massager/recliner, his sand­wich, TV and bot­tle of Snap­ple in peace. Soli­tude and space is to not be found. Through a series of phys­i­cal gags, jokes involv­ing aging and child-rear­ing, the cranky old guy even­tu­al­ly apol­o­gizes for yelling at his grand-kids and may even admit that there are advan­tages to hav­ing them around (one of them dis­cov­ers and turns on the ‘auto adjust’ but­ton on his hi-tech chair, end­ing his 4-year quest to find ‘the per­fect set­ting’). While they aren’t a per­fect hap­py fam­i­ly, they may just make it, although Mac will still be thrilled the day that all of his kids final­ly do leave, and he and his wife can hit the road togeth­er.

Before I get into any crit­i­cal appre­ci­a­tion, it was just kind of fun to see how you shoot a sit­com. This was a four cam­era show, with direc­tor call­ing cuts and cam­era angles, 3 dif­fer­ent sets (includ­ing the motor home), and a large crew, includ­ing a stage direc­tor, cam­era­men, sound man, grips, key grip, clap­per, a bunch of writ­ers doing rewrites of jokes down to the last moment, and bunch of oth­er peo­ple (who I couldn’t tell what they did). This was as close as we’ve got­ten to the film­ing of a real TV show, and it was a great edu­ca­tion about how this is done these days.

As for ‘All the Com­forts’, it sounds like pret­ty typ­i­cal sit­com fare, doesn’t it? On this evening, what the writ­ing of the pilot lacked, the actors made up for in pro­fes­sion­al­ism and ener­gy. They made the mate­r­i­al far fun­nier than it deserved to be, but will it be enough for this pilot to catch on? That’s hard to say. The theme of the return of kids liv­ing with their par­ents far into their 30’s is some­thing that many of us are uncom­fort­able with, to be sure. It used to be a stig­ma, but is becom­ing so wide­spread that it is clear­ly going to have to be re-eval­u­at­ed. Dis­com­fort often leads to humour, so this might have a chance. On the oth­er hand, if it just becomes anoth­er col­lec­tion of sit­com gags…

  • Mac attempts to return a stolen xxx before dis­cov­ery of the theft … Hilar­i­ty ensues.
  • Susie is giv­en the posi­tion of respon­si­bil­i­ty she can’t han­dle … Hilar­i­ty ensues.
  • Bren­da, tries to change her phys­i­cal appear­ance through an xxx … Hilar­i­ty ensues.

I hope that they reach for plots and char­ac­ter devel­op­ment that’s bet­ter than these stock sit­u­a­tions. Pam and I have both become real fans of Cor­ner Gas, a CBC Sit­com that con­sis­tent­ly pro­vides a big laugh at least once in an episode. I sus­pect that it’s the writ­ing staff, although that sit­com also has very good act­ing. So far, ‘All the Com­forts’ is no Cor­ner Gas, but per­haps it could be. I’m hop­ing it does, because to have been in the audi­ence at the pilot could be a bit of his­to­ry, if it is a hit.

The September Arts and Events Flood

Amitai Marmorstein and Celine Stubel in Legoland

Ami­tai Mar­morstein and Celine Stubel
in Legoland
“Mor­mons are creepy.”

I don’t know what it is about Sep­tem­ber. Pam and I have duti­ful­ly tried to keep up, but there’s just so much going on! I’m way behind in post­ings, so here are a few things just to get caught up.

The Fringe
We went to three plays (just a frac­tion of the num­ber pre­sent­ed), includ­ing Dar­ren Barefoot’s charm­ing roman­tic com­e­dy Bul­loxed. Bul­loxed, as you can read from the blog about the play (but I include here so you don’t have to go hunt­ing for the blurb) is:

Set in Dublin, Ire­land, at the height of the dot-com boom, Cana­di­an com­put­er pro­gram­mer Jack is struck by love and a God-awful pain in his ‘bol­locks’ at pre­cise­ly the same moment. While he may have found the woman of his dreams, dis­cov­er­ing the source of tes­ti­cle pain is, well, more sen­si­tive. Will a clash of cul­tures and the nag­ging feel­ing that things just aren’t right kill the romance for good?

Is it pos­si­ble to have a roman­tic com­e­dy about tes­ti­cle pain? As it turns out, it’s not only pos­si­ble, but Pam in par­tic­u­lar (per­haps because she felt less empa­thy?) found it extreme­ly fun­ny. It’s a shame that some sub­jects are so tick­lish that the cen­sors would nev­er let them through for a stan­dard sit­com or even movie, unless it were an inde­pen­dent film. After all, pain in the groin area is some­thing that many of us guys have expe­ri­enced at one time or anoth­er. While the whole tes­tic­u­lar agony thing was the ‘hook’ for the play, the play is more of a dat­ing dance, between a fiery Irish girl and geeky Com­put­er Pro­gram­mer. I felt par­tic­u­lar­ly proud as a new­com­er to Cana­da to get the joke when Jack and Aoife enter into a scene singing the theme song to ‘The Lit­tlest Hobo’, which I learned out about via a “Cor­ner Gas” episode only a few short months ago. While I felt the whole sto­ry could have gone on a bit fur­ther, the fact that I want­ed more was prob­a­bly a good sign. Per­haps Dar­ren will write a big­ger play next year.

A few nights lat­er, we caught short but intense mono­logue called ‘Troia’ about the intern­ment of Ital­ian Cana­di­ans dur­ing World War II (not dis­sim­i­lar to what went on in the US with the Japan­ese dur­ing the same time peri­od). Again, I felt it was too short, and per­haps even could sense a screen­play in there some­where. (My pitch to the pro­duc­ers: Think Snow Falling on Cedars meets Moon­struck and set it in Ontario).

Final­ly, our favourite play(and picked as one of the best of the fes­ti­val and repeat­ed this week­end): Legoland. Legoland was the name giv­en to the out­side world by two home-schooled chil­dren on a BC Com­mune (their par­ents get impris­oned for grow­ing pot, wouldn’t you know), Pen­ny and Ezra Lamb. Their sto­ry was part cau­tion­ary tale (part of Penny’s ‘Com­mu­ni­ty Ser­vice’), part kalei­do­scop­ic Amer­i­can Road trip, and part ode to every out­sider kid you’ve ever known (or end­ed up being). It was a scream, and as we left the the­atre, we knew that we’d seen some­thing real­ly extra­or­di­nary. The actors, Ami­tai Mar­morstein as Ezra and Celine Stubel as Pen­ny, were so per­fect for their char­ac­ters that if some­one ever turned the play into a movie, they would have to cast them in the same parts. Next year, per­haps we’ll triple our num­ber of plays attend­ed again. Nine plays in 10 days? Well, some of them real­ly are just 20 min­utes long.

The Blog­ger Meet­up
Last week was the Sep­tem­ber Van­cou­ver Blog­gers Meet­up. Sev­er­al of us spent a few hours on a rainy evening chat­ting, eat­ing and drink­ing, in about that order. While we talked about a range of sub­jects, includ­ing how to blog about your some­one with­out them know­ing about it, are reli­gious peo­ple actu­al­ly dan­ger­ous (in these days of sui­cide bombers and Chris­t­ian theocrats, not a triv­ial ques­tion), how to make a liv­ing dri­ving traf­fic to web sites, and how we all make deci­sions about our lives. I think that Isabel­la Mori, our Meet­up Leader, found a real­ly nice meet­ing place in Cen­tu­ry, an old bank that is now con­vert­ed to a restau­rant and bar on Richards (about 2 blocks from where I work). The place is both cozy and impres­sive . That may be hard to imag­ine from the sound of it, but the high ceil­ings, leather fur­ni­ture and dim light­ing, along with friend­ly staff, a well-stocked bar and tasty food (I had crepes filled with BBQ Duck, Oax­a­can cheese and herbs — a lot of fresh tar­ragon, I think) all made it a win­ner in my book. It was a lit­tle noisy, but I’m hap­py to have found a new place to meet and take refuge on those dark and wet nights that will be on their way here soon.

Speak­ing of the sea­sons, fel­low blog­ger MJ men­tioned that she had read and part­ly agreed with my char­ac­ter­i­za­tion of Vancouver’s pen­du­lum-like swing between the city of the mind (fall,winter) and city of the body (spring,summer). She did point out, how­ev­er that not every­one can com­plete­ly go all-mind in win­ter and all-body in sum­mer, par­tic­u­lar­ly those like she who are fans of win­ter sports like ski­ing and snow­board­ing (how could I for­get that stuff?). So I guess the city does not split the year so neat­ly. Nev­er­the­less, this last week­end we got to…yet anoth­er Arts Event:

The Word on the Street
On Sun­day late morn­ing we head­ed over to the Library, for ‘The Word on the Street’, their annu­al book and mag­a­zine fair. Booths around the library (and in that sort of mini-mall on the inside) as well as ‘The Word Under the Street’ in the base­ment host­ed all sorts of lit­er­ary and lit­er­a­cy orga­ni­za­tions, writ­ers, poets, and oth­er speak­ers. Pam and I were lucky enough to hear ‘The Hock­ey Sweater’ (a sto­ry that is so cen­tral to Cana­di­an cul­ture that an excerpt of it is actu­al­ly print­ed on the 5 dol­lar bill!) read by the warm and fun­ny author of the tale, Roch Car­ri­er, who is also one of the most cel­e­brat­ed Que­bec writ­ers in Cana­da. It was made into an ani­mat­ed short in 1980 (with M. Car­ri­er nar­rat­ing) and is now con­sid­ered a clas­sic of Cana­di­an lit­er­a­ture. Pam was very touched by this cute sto­ry (no spoil­ers here — go and read it your­self!), and we both felt like we had got­ten one step clos­er to being Cana­di­ans. We also col­lect­ed a ton of stuff, includ­ing books, pads, free mag­a­zines and var­i­ous tchochkes.

In a few days, Pam and I are going to take a lit­tle break, via a trip up to Whistler to take in some more of those BC vis­tas that put us (and our now more active minds) more in per­spec­tive. Man does not live by plays, con­ver­sa­tions and books alone.

PS: One of the rea­sons this post is real­ly 3 is the fact that I’m spend­ing a fair amount of time get­ting ready to move this blog. Yes, I man­aged to get the domain ‘loudmurmurs.com’, and am think­ing about mak­ing the leap to Word­Press, which I installed and worked to cus­tomize a lit­tle ear­li­er today at that domain. It seems none too soon, as I’ve been hav­ing a real­ly hard time post­ing this — Blog­ger has been incred­i­bly flakey and slow late­ly.

If all goes well, I’ll be mov­ing to the new URL and blog­ging plat­form in Octo­ber. Stay tuned for a new look and new loca­tion!

Gentlemen, Start Your Engines

Sep­tem­ber has always been my favourite month of the year, and not only because it is the month of my birth. When I lived in the North­east, it was always the time of lots of blue skies, crisp, cool air, and that spec­tac­u­lar fall foliage. It was always a seri­ous month, deal­ing with the end of things, and per­haps even thoughts of mor­tal­i­ty. My moth­er has always vehe­ment­ly been a Spring per­son, asso­ci­at­ing her birth month with rebirth, new blooms, the end of win­ter, more com­fort­able weath­er (although often not quite yet), and longer days. Nope, not for me. I’ll take a Fall walk in Ver­mont with the smell of wood fires over a mud­dy trek through a gar­den that’s maybe get­ting ready to get going.

These days, I can’t say that I love Sep­tem­ber quite as much. Van­cou­ver doesn’t get those flash­es of col­or in the trees and the air isn’t all that dif­fer­ent, although you do have to start wear­ing a coat again. Instead, what’s in evi­dence is the switch back to the city of the mind from the city of the body. I’ve talked about Vancouver’s year­ly pen­du­lum swing between the hedo­nism of the spring and sum­mer months and intel­lec­tu­al and artis­tic pur­suits of the fall and win­ter months. This is not unique to Van­cou­ver; my par­ents, who spend a lot of time in Paris, talk about ‘la ren­trée’ (From the web site understandfrance.org):

For the French, the year does not begin Jan­u­ary 1st! It begins in Sep­tem­ber and the begin­ning of the year is so unpleas­ant that it ruins the Sum­mer vaca­tions (no won­der the French need so much vaca­tion dur­ing the rest of the year). It is called “la ren­trée”, like in schools. Just imag­ine : in Sep­tem­ber, you receive the tax bill, kids start school and it is the peri­od of the year where, tra­di­tion­al­ly, many strikes take place, par­tic­u­lar­ly trans­port strikes (train, metro, etc.). It takes a few months to recov­er, then Christ­mas comes (noth­ing spec­tac­u­lar) then the “sol­des” (sales, more inter­est­ing), then Feb­ru­ary vaca­tion (very appre­ci­at­ed), then East­er vaca­tion and the won­der­ful month of May, with its “bridges”. Then it is time to plan Sum­mer vaca­tion.

I’d say for Van­cou­ver, it’s more like ‘le réveil’ (the reawak­en­ing); a time when you no longer spend the long after­noons that stretch into the evening at the beach or sit­ting in the park (or hik­ing up Grouse). Even though the sum­mer did have some the­atre, includ­ing the suc­cess­ful ‘Bard on the Beach’, there are now sev­er­al fes­ti­vals and con­cert sea­sons that are all set to begin. This past week­end, we made anoth­er short vis­it to the PNE (hard­ly big brain food, but after all, we were just get­ting start­ed). I think I’ll always think of the PNE as a sort of farewell, to sum­mer. After that, The Van­cou­ver Fringe Fes­ti­val, which includes 10 days of enter­tain­ing and some­times chal­leng­ing evenings of the­atre, most­ly on Granville Island stages, starts in 3 days. Just 11 days after that, the 25th Annu­al Van­cou­ver Inter­na­tion­al Film fes­ti­val, includ­ing some 300 shorts and fea­tures from over fifty coun­tries (and a quar­ter of the films this year are non-fic­tion — which I guess means Doc­u­men­taries in most cas­es). At the end of the month, the Van­cou­ver Sym­pho­ny Orches­tra opens their sea­son with Strauss’s Ein Helden­leben. So as you can see, every­thing starts up, and not quite in the way that the French do it.

I’m a big cul­ture vul­ture, so I’m thrilled that this is all hap­pen­ing, and if it is in part because it’s not going to be so nice out and the sun is going to set ear­li­er and ear­li­er, then, so be it. My mind is tired of being on vaca­tion.