Monthly Archives: May 2002


I had a truly horrible rehearsal on Wednesday night.

I’d even practiced that morning. I’d gone through the evil Minuet & Trio from Beethoven’s First Symphony and some of the nasty shifts from the first movement too, and I was feeling pretty good about myself.

Then I got to rehearsal and we began with the Rossini overture, and the substitute director took it at a really fast clip. I lost it. I ended up just sitting and staring at the music, unable to grab an anchor point to pick up again and be in the same place as everyone else.

It got worse: we then moved to the Bizet. (Remember? The tenor clef? The treble clef?) Any progess I’d made on this piece left me, bags and all. They even slammed the door.

It was around this point that I realised the next concert is only four weeks away.

Then we moved to the Beethoven, which should have been my best performance of the night. I was so rattled by this point, though, that I spent a lot of time feeling rather nauseous, staring at the score again, miserable.

I have absolutely no emotional connection to this music. The Mozart symphony we’re doing is easy for me, because it’s so beautiful, so lyrical. These other pieces are technically challenging and very difficult to make sound easy, which is important. Music should sound effortless. Since I have no emotional connection to them (other than the sinking feeling I get when I look at them, which is probably classified by a large percentage of the population as “negative”!) it’s hard to make them sound pretty, let alone care about getting the notes right.

So, I bought a new set of earphones, and batteries for my Walkman, and I’ll just listen to it all over and over until I can sing it in my sleep. That will help.

I was really down Wednesday night when I went home, and Thursday morning wasn’t much better. On the way to work, though, I heard a terrific recording of the overture to Mozart’s Don Giovanni by Tafelmusik on CBC Radio Two, and suddenly, I was reminded why I play the cello, why I joined the Lakeshore Chamber Orchestra, and why music is so important to me. When I got to work, I dashed off a quick e-mail to the show’s host Tom Allen, thanking him for helping me out. He e-mailed me later in the day to say that he was “glad to hear your musical cloud has lifted” and telling me to “keep the faith”.

I’m looking forward to working on my music this summer. It’s a pity that my concert will be over just as my time off begins, so I won’t be able to devote the time I’d like to preparing for it, but I’ll choose a piece to really polish up to feel good about before orchestra starts up again next fall.

Music is such a gloriously emotional thing, and it brings such a variety of people together to perform and experience it. I don’t know who invented it, but I think I’d like to shake their hand.

Five Quarters of the Orange by Joanne Harris, which is about a woman returning anonymously to her native village in France to open a restaurant in the house she grew up in. It’s two stories simultaneously: the modern storyline, and the story of when this main character was growing up sixty-odd years ago in German-occupied France. I’m enjoying the war storyline more; the modern story is about her weak nephew and his desperate, food-snobby wife trying to steal her mother’s recipe book to help their own ailing high-class restaurant, which the protagonist has discovered is also a kind of diary in code which her mother kept during the war. I find the modern antagonists pretty lame, although I love the recipe book/journal aspect of it. Harris uses food and wine as a metaphor for everything her characters can’t actually come out and say in all her books; it’s an interesting trope, but it’s becoming predictable.

This is the third Harris novel I’ve read; the first two were Chocolat and Blackberry Wine. So far, Chocolat is still my favourite. Jury’s still out as to where Five Quarters will fall.


Cool! At this very moment, when I went to check my blog, Stephen’s Chirographum was in my BlogSnob box.

I love coincidence.

Now if I could only get rid of the sudden striking pain through the right side of my brain…

Again, I finished the book before I could blog it: Salamander by Thomas Wharton. I have a soft spot for Canadian literature – it was my secondary focus through my BA and MA – and I enjoy trying new authors. Wharton has an interesting style. Very readable, once you get past the complete abandonment of quotation marks. The story begins in the ruins of a sacked town, as an officer rides through the streets slowly. He catches movement inside a destroyed bookshop and investigates, discovering a young woman, methodically going through the debris, and ends up talking to her about reading. She tells him a four-part tale about what stories might lie between the unopened green sealskin covers of a small book she has rescued, a wonderful technique for launching the reader into the book proper. The story is partially fairy tale, partially magical realism (think Umberto Eco crossed with… well, Umberto Eco, actually), wandering through Italy, Egypt, London, China, all over various seas and oceans, involves pirates, music, automatons, acrobats, and the secret, hidden Library of Alexandria. It revolves around a printer who is summoned to an odd mechanical castle in Europe to create the ultimate riddle book. He falls in love with the daughter of the house, then is imprisoned for almost two decades, eventually freed by his daughter, who then quests for her long-vanished mother while her father (now slightly mad) travels with her, still seeking to fulfil his mandate of creating a book which can simultaneously contain everything and nothing. I love stories like this because you get the paradox of a printed book talking about the printing of books; the text becomes the very subject examined, bringing an odd insight juxtaposed with the difficulty of seperating the book you’re reading from the book being written about.

My bus-book at the moment is a mystery called Harm None by M.R. Sellers, who has transgressed unforgivably in my opinion: he can’t use “its” and “it’s” correctly. Ever. I’m reading it because it’s an occult mystery written by a witch, and I also like to support small-press literature whenever I can. So far (a few chapters in) the story is fine, but this irritating grammatical error trips me up every time. There are others, and some bad sentence structure, and an over-reliance on description – all amateur errors, so I’m being very open-minded as I go through it. If I’d been let at this manuscript before it had been published, though, it would be different, let me tell you.


Okay, I took three, but only because there was a broken one and I had to put it out of its misery.

Mmmm. Bourbon Cremes. It’s such a crime that you can only get them in the assorted Peek Freans packages now. The thing stopping me from raiding a Peek Freans headquarters and holding someone important hostage is the fact that every couple of years they bring out these Limited Edition boxes.



I completely forgot that Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone comes out on DVD today!

Perhaps I will be pleasantly surprised by the husband picking it up on his way home, or while I am teaching tonight.

My mother secretly bought me a box of Peek Freans Bourbon Cremes while I was in Toronto. I haven’t told my husband. They’re mine. They’re hidden. I am about to go open the box oh so lovingly, remove two, then hide them again and try to forget the box has been breached…


Ceri saw Episode Two on Sunday as well, it seems.

The one good lightsabre battle was ruined by focusing on facial closeups rather than having us see the actual battle.

I’m not certain which battle she has chosen as the best, but I think it’s all a continuation of the trend begun in Gladiator of making battle look as confusing as possible, because that’s what it would seem like if you were in the middle of it.

Yoda did not kick butt, he looked damn silly

I must agree. I think it was silly because we’re used to him being dignified, however. Would it have been silly if he were six feet tall? Size matters not, especially when you’re facing a lightsaber blade.

Amidala did not emote.

This is a let-down from the first film in what way? Honestly, how could she improve when playing opposite Wooden Christiansen?

The computer generated “riding-a-bucking-animal” shots were horrible.

Oh, gods, yes. Absolutely dreadful. All of them – the beast-riding in the arena, the beast-surfing in the field… funny how we balk at the organic CGI but the droid and machinery CGI is just fine. We have firm standards concerning how live things are supposed to move. It’s probably a subset of the Fight Or Flight instinct: “You know, that big bear-like thing isn’t moving the way it should… why are these flags popping up in my brain?” Not-moving-right means something’s more wrong than usual.

The movie had poor script, poor directing, poor acting (probably due to the aforementioned script) and poor characterization.

And not enough actors of decent caliber to even partially save it. I cheerfully agree. I enjoyed it anyway. It’s a space fantasy. A B-movie. It’s supposed to be campy. The bad CGI is right up there with stopping the film in A New Hope so the doors could open or close, then recording again and hoping the actors hadn’t moved. If it was a Good, Quality Film, I don’t know what the fans would make of it.

Lucas can’t write, can’t direct. We know this. He cast Ewan McGregor to make it all okay, though, and actually gave him screen time and a plot to carry. I wish Christopher Lee had been given more to do. At least he didn’t die; he might actually be in the next one. We’ll see.

Fascinating note: This soundtrack is actually in chronological order, a huge improvement over the last one.

So, of course, now the burning question is… when do I play NSW next?


Hurrah! Superhero photos are already up in Scott’s on-line album!

Check us out as Thor and Promethea! (Yes, I know I’m missing the pectoral; that’s one of the things that got dropped by necessity in the sewing machine tragedy…)