Archive for February, 2014

Texts Away

Wednesday, February 26th, 2014

A friend’s nephew recently had his mobile phone taken away after his mother could no longer stand its constancy in every facet of her son’s life.  His mobile phoneleaving it on the bathtub’s edge while he showered was the final straw.  It turned out he was sending about 20,000 texts per month.  That’s about 667 texts PER DAY!  Even if I or my friend or his mother have it wrong by on order of ten, that’s would still be an impressive, although not as mind-blowing, 67 texts per day (but I am assured that it is indeed 20,000).  Closer examination of the texts reveal that a great many consist of “K” and “LOL” (the longevity of this latter abbreviation is baffling to me).  All this puts me in mind of the Mark Twain quote, “I didn’t have time to write a short letter, so I wrote a longer one instead.”  Clearly this 17 year-old has all the time in the world.  No wonder his mom took his phone away.

The Duomo of Novels

Wednesday, February 12th, 2014

DuomoDuomoDuomoOne of my favourite churches is the Duomo in Florence.  This has nothing to do with its aesthetic quality.  Although, I do like its rustic, red brick look.  Rather it has everything to do with the construction of its dome.  The dome is 52 meters high and 44 meters wide.  Construction of the church commenced in 1296 and wasn’t completed until a 140 years later in 1436. These facts by themselves suggest a marvel but what I really love about it is that when the church was commenced, Arnoldo di Cambio, the architect had no idea how the dome would ever be self-supporting.  He advocated it anyway, feeling certain that, well, somebody along the way would sort it out. (Alternatively a cynic would argue that he knew he wouldn’t be around for its completion a hundred or so years down the track, so why stress about it.)  Aided by the fact that the use of support buttresses were forbidden (something do with awful foreigners to the north using such ugly supports), di Cambio’s original vision prevailed and a 124 years later a solution to the roof not falling down on parishoners’ heads was found (by Fillippo Brunelleschi).  What does all this have to with writing?  Sometimes – for those of us who write without outlines – writing a novel can feel like dome construction.  Characters say and do all sorts of unanticipated things, which lead in all sorts of unanticipated directions. One just hopes that it will somehow, somewhere down the track all come together.  And in far less time than 124 years.

Meryl Streep Envy

Monday, February 3rd, 2014

And for the '90s and the '00s and the '10s and...

And for the ’90s and the ’00s and the ’10s and…

I am far from being an actor and even as an amateur, the last time I was in a play was 1997.  (I am not including here my role as “Jimmy the Skull” in a murder-mystery night over the holidays.)  Nonetheless, I have Meryl Streep envy.  She has got to rate as one of the luckiest actors ever, scoring more meaty roles per year of being in the business than any other actor that I can think of (which means Hollywood types.  Perhaps there are equally lucky theatre types but the mere fact that their careers are restricted to theatre suggests otherwise.).  And age does not seem to have diminished her access to parts of substance.  Sure there were some forgettable comedies in the 1980s, but while her (talented) counterparts embarrass themselves in movies like Last Vegas (seeing this flick is unnecessary to knowing that De Niro has done better work; Michael Douglas I’m not as sure about), Streep gets to sink her teeth into spiteful, prescription drug-addled Violet in August: Osage County.  The Academy Award nomination was predetermined.  If I can in anyway fault her performance as Violet is to note that there were times when Streep seemed to be having too much fun.  Was it Violet enjoying a bit of self-satisfied vindication or was it Streep enjoying a bit of self-satisfied longevity?