Wednesday, 24 September 2008

Those who can, do

Calgary Colour 2

When I was in New York City last April, one item on my (far too crammed) schedule for Saturday night was to go see glass: a portrait of Philip in twelve parts, which was just starting a two-week run. Because things got messed up -- never try to keep to a schedule when the Pope is in the same town as you are! -- I ended up sitting in my hotel room with a six-pack of Sierra Nevada beer and a take-away dinner from Zabar's instead.

Thankfully, the documentary appeared here in Calgary this past weekend, and I made the first showing on Saturday. I've been a Philip Glass fan ever since I first saw Koyaanisqatsi when I was living in New York in 1982.

(I've lost track how many times I've seen it since, but my favourite was in April 2006, when he and the ensemble played the soundtrack live to the movie at my local concert hall. We had tickets dead in the middle, six rows from the front, and at times, I hummed along, much to the amusement of my seatmates. We were close enough that we could hear him singing at the end: magical!)

I've always been a fan of documentaries, whether making them myself on radio or watching them on the screen, and I thoroughly enjoyed this one as well. One aspect I particularly liked was watching Mr. Glass's process of work, and his attitude towards letting the work take itself where it wants to go.

In response to a question from director Scott Hicks, Philip Glass talked about his creative process as flowing like an underground river -- you feel it below and sense its presence. For those of us who create, it's a familiar feeling.

He also talked about not caring about whether the music he began to create when he returned to the U.S. in the late 1960s (from studying with Nadia Boulanger in Paris) had a predisposed audience, because he almost felt that he had no control over what was emerging. I can relate to that too.

As you can tell from the pictures above and below, it's now fall here: the days are getting shorter, the nights are cooler, and deadlines for commitments are approaching. Between the latter and working for Elections Canada, the days are busy.

Natural grasses

Wednesday, 10 September 2008

Doing the right thing, for once


The City of Calgary gives a lot of lip service to preserving our history, but until very recently, it had a well earned reputation for encouraging the tearing-down of old buildings to put up an awful lot of schlock.

Not surprisingly, when it was announced a few years ago that many of the big, older trees in our neighbourhood would need to be removed because they were becoming dangerous, there was a rather large hue and cry.

A compromise, of sorts, was reached: the trees would be removed, but rather than being simply hauled off, they would be used to create natural parks and gently return to the earth.

One of these parks, which we call Loghenge, is near our home, and it's become one of my favourite places to go when I need a break from my projects. It's not big, but it exhibits very distinct personalities throughout the seasons.

Here's more of what I saw on yesterday's adventure, including another regular visitor....


Two by two


Raspberry (dis)patch(ed)

Thursday, 4 September 2008

Up against the wall, eventually


The speed at which I'm working away at projects is a little deceptive sometimes: there are days I don't think I get much done, but actually do, and then there are days I feel I've accomplished a lot when I really haven't.

That being said, overall I'm really moving right along through the projects I want to get done in the short-term, and I'm having to schedule "down time" to keep my health up.

Part of that "down time" requirement has meant having to excise some people and things that were quickly becoming black holes of personal energy: it's not something I particularly enjoy doing, but I've found it necessary for self-preservation of both body and soul.

In essence, over the years, I've become a great believer in the Kenny Rogers School of Philosophy....

You've got to know when to hold 'em
Know when to fold them,
Know when to walk away,
Know when to run.

Another part of that energy reclamation entailed heading over the the local Highland Games last Saturday, which turned into a lovely day, despite a cool breeze and a depressing forecast. (Said forecast proved to be accurate, as there was quite the nice snowfall in Canmore the next day!)

Apart from a bridie (no haggis again this year -- boo hiss) and several fine drams of single-malt while enjoying excellent music in the beverage tent, I spent most of my time checking out the heavy events and the afternoon footy match (Scotland 3, England 1), and browsing the many tents of stuph.

There's mostly bits from instruction books with DVDs, to practice chanters for bagpipers, and any number of memorial items for the Scottish (and Celtic in general) diaspora, though I tend to spend my time looking more longingly at things I actually use, primarily t-shirts and calendars.

In the latter category, the pickings were pretty slim, except for three from Michael MacGregor at one stall, and I ended up choosing one of Highland Cattle. After milling about for a few minutes, I eventually found the queue to pay.

An' wha' do ye hae? asked the woman behind the table.

Just a calendar, thanks. said I.

Whi' one, love? Islands? Puffins?

No. Coo.

And now we are the happy owners of a 2009 Coo Calendar.

Books for Sale

The shop is currently empty.