Film: Drive my Car

I got to do something special during the March break, I took my teen to Montreal. While that was not so much the intention, we ended up visiting the Montreal of my teenage days.


We did a beautiful hike up the mountain. They actually have a groomed ski track there now.

Plexus is long gone but Eva B is still holding the frippery line strong .

Eva B

We got two skirts for $5 and $15 respectively when I remembered that I used to haggle there. In my defence, the first time I went there they told me they will give me a better deal if I asked. I did not have the heart to haggle this time.

Look at me not haggling

Trev has been taking about getting a pair Docs so off to Rio/X20 we went. Rio was a bit of a heart break as it reminded me of the protagonist’s parent’s store from Kästner’ “Going to the Dogs”. Despite the walls still being decorated with punk posters and hard core jackets, the whole store was filled with only one type of shoe for sale. Sadly we shuffled across the street to X20 where we fortunately were not disappointed.

School bus yellow Docks

We got some records at L’Oblique, my favourite bus stop (its is not actually a bus stop, it is very close to the Mont Royal Metro where I would happily skip to while waiting for the bus…). The guy at the cash was still the same after all these years.


We ended our visit with the Fine Arts Museum and a quick walk past Concordia University and Guy Metro station.


Film: The Marriage Story

Taylor Lake

Apart from getting out to Gatineau Park to ski, I have been able to catch a few concerts/shows at the NAC.

Last year I noticed the ads for a ballet I liked when I was Trevor’s age when it was too late to go and see it. I decided to be more proactive this year and buy tickets in advance. The choice this year was between Nutcracker and Wizard of Oz. While Nutcracker is a classic, I was intrigued by the Wizard being a co-production of the Royal Winnipeg Ballet – the company that we were going to see. Markus was the only kid that showed interest so off to see the Wizard we went. The show was great, we had a blast and Markus even braved a horde of little girls to meet the dancers at the end of the performance.

Nona and I went to see Joshua Bell Performs Mendelssohn with the NAC orchestra. What I love about these concerts is the combination of classics and well known performers and new contemporary compositions.

Last week Chris and I went to a concert in the NAC Casual Friday series. This one featured American composers and a World premiere of a cello concerto written for the principal cellist of the NAC orchestra. It was tonnes of fun, especially since the enthusiasm of the principal cellist and the composer, who sat for a Q&A afterwards, was contagious.

I am really enjoying these little concerts, hope to see more of them.

Film: Puzzle

You know what else I have been doing? Listening to music. I am really enjoying Arctic Monkeys’ latest album. I even found a photo from this summer that goes very well with one of the songs.


“Maybe I was a little too wild in the ’70s
Rocket-ship grease down the cracks of my knuckles
Karate bandana, warp speed chic
Hair down to there, impressive moustache”
Star Treatment by Arctic Monkeys

Big Opera is dead, long live the … Small Opera?

For the second time in just the few years the Ottawa Opera Lyra cancelled the season. We managed to get full refunds so phew!

Part of me is sad about demise of opera company in a city that has too few already. Part of me is “well duh!” indifferent. Looking back at the last decade of my experience with this company, my favourite productions were the children’s version of The Magic Flute followed by the concert version of Thomas’ Hamlet. Therefore I will posit the following:

Waiting for Tsars’ Bride at the ROC

– I like opera but I do not like large productions in large halls

We were dozing off for the last act of Carmen at the Met and the only thing I remember from the Royal Opera is the gorgeous sets. I am sure that the cast was top notch, but I don’t really _remember_ it at all. Maybe if I wasn’t such a cheapskate and got front row tickets my experience would be different, but from where I usually sit, being able to hear anything is more of a feat of engineering on the part of the architect and the sound analyzing CAD software than the ability of the artist. Furthermore, the singers are chosen for their above average musical abilities leaving us with mismatch of their physical presence and the character they are trying to evoke. If I could tell the difference between a Diva and an average singer from where I am sitting, I might forgive this, but so far I have not been able to.

Waiting for Against the Grain’s production of Don Giovanni at University of Ottawa

– I like opera and I especially like small productions

Actually, I am lying, I can tell the difference between Ok singer and amazing singer, but for me that only really matters to a point. From theatre point of view I have had much better record of enjoying small productions with scaled down orchestra and supporting cast that is less than stellar if the storytelling and music “pull me in”. The two operas I’ve seen this year at the Chamber Music Festival knocked my socks off – for just $20!!!. When you consider the that you can watch the shows from the Met or ROC at the movies, I think the lesser cities can survive without the Opera Lyra style companies as long as they have a good serving of “budget” productions. What remains to be seen is whether the void left by Opera Lyra will be filled.

Laibach: The Next Generation

After ten years, I saw Laibach live again on my last day in Zagreb. Part of the performance included a set they were taking to North Korea.


Here is the review from T-Portal.

So how is Laibach doing in 2015? At first I was sceptical since half of the performers were younger than me, but then again, Laibach was always more of a collective. Though the last founding member left about ten years ago, the machine itself is still marching on across absurdity with aplomb.

Grieg’s unfinished opera

Film – Lego Movie

Yes, I went to a movie. In fact, the whole family is now of age where we can go to see a kids movie and we did. Expect me to only review kids movies for the next five years…

I think Lego Movie is best seen on an airplane where you can choose not to put the earphones on. Concept and execution were good, jokes were good (ok, you can wear earphones for those) but the dialogue was standard pep-talk between action scenes fare. Had they hired a decent dialogue writer this move would be as awesome as everything.

I’ve also been listening to popular music! I’ve got a solo album by Alex Turner and two of his group work efforts; “Whatever People Say I Am That’s I’m Not” and “AM” by Arctic Monkeys. After many, many listens, I prefer the solo album which is the soundtrack to the movie “Submarine” the best though I am fairly hooked on the other two. This is the first time that I have albums I bought at the iTunes store that I wish I had a CD for (or at least the CD booklet). I found myself wanting to check the song credits, lyrics and the album art quite a few times.