Culture & Conversation

Pop MTL 2013

What’s poppin’ at Pop Montreal

It’s easy to get overwhelmed around Pop Montreal time, as “checking out” who is playing is always a massive feat. Yet I took it on this year – for you, dear readers – sifting through the innumerable names to get a little listing together.

Ce que femme veut

Le concept de « pièce à l’intérieure d’une pièce » peut être maladroit entre les mains d’un dramaturge peu expérimenté. Mais lorsque les transitions se font organiquement et que les lignes se brouillent, comme c’est le cas pour La Vénus au vison, de David Ives, les spectateurs s’investissent dans la pièce — dans les deux pièces — et les résultats sont spectaculaires.

An enchanted evening – almost

To mark 50 years to the day that Place des Arts opened, Opéra de Montréal presented a crowd-pleaser, the melodic, exotic and – by opera standards – short Lakmé. No less then Pauline Marois was in attendance (and was that Justin Trudeau I fleetingly glimpsed in the premium seats?). Before the curtain rose to reveal the set-and-costume designer’s stunning eye-candy, a speech was presented by cast member Florie Valiquette, dressed in extravagant late-Victorian finery. So the scene was set for something remarkable, but while the performances were often very pleasing, the evening never really fired vocally.

Worth the journey

For their intricate designs, Afghani rugs are considered among the most distinctive of oriental carpets. Often, they are as red as the poppies that have fuelled both the country’s economy and the rivers of blood in its history. Whatever the pattern, rugs from Afghanistan are prized for their weave. And that is also true of the novels by Khaled Hosseini, the bestselling author of The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns. He’s a master weaver of tales.

Blokes du pays

“Those who ignores the lessons of the pasta are doomed to repeat it.” This Saturday, satirical musical duo Bowser and Blue celebrate three-and-a-half decades of laughing at life in la belle province. Featuring special guest David Pryde, their Anniversary Special Concert this Saturday, September 21 at Théâtre Symposia will revisit highlights from their long career. They’ll also present a host of new songs, many of whose focus is Quebec’s new climate. Will there be a song about the charter this Saturday? What, ya think?

Bill why oh why

Last Tuesday at the deep end of the Bain St. Michel (Infinitheatre) pool, celebrated poets Carolyn Marie Souaid and Endre Farkas hosted an evening celebrating Quebec English-language poets with the launch of their combined editing efforts, Language Matters: Interviews with 22 Quebec Poets. About 60 people attended the launch, including many of the poets who were interviewed for the book.

Stuck in the attic

The phrase “the woman upstairs” is Nora Eldridge’s personal shorthand for a sort of forgotten woman, the well-behaved spinster who suppresses her rage at everything she has been denied or has lost, through her own timidity or others’ low expectations of her. It seems a bit of an old-fashioned stereotype; the woman upstairs is stuck mopping the kitchen floor, never mind worrying about the glass ceiling.

Bubby is funny

Veteran Just for Laughs comics Mike Ward and Deanne Smith travel to the depths of Cote-St-Luc to sit down for an intimate “Evening” with my Bubby Sophie. She jokes, she sings, she tries to force feed them a variety of different foods. Learn why kosher chickens are better than non-kosher chickens.

A space odyssey

For the past four years, I’ve had the amazing opportunity to teach a horror film class at Concordia University. Aside from being a geek dream come true, it has allowed me to introduce inquiring minds to a range of brilliant scary movies. I have always punctuated the class with Alien (1979). It amazes me how that film has aged so beautifully. The effects (pre-CGI, it must be noted) remain entirely effective, and its commentary about the fusion of corporate and military interests has become horrifically prophetic. It’s a joy to watch it on the big screen, an opportunity the course provides.

Creating a world

The Arsenal Complex on Canning Street in Griffintown, just around the corner on Notre Dame Street West, is a beautiful repurposing of a former industrial building into a venue for galleries and events. The main floor has cavernous spaces for big shows (empty bottles of expensive beer left on tables attest to earlier festivities), while an ascending stairway takes you to the Division Gallery. The corridors and rooms, carefully finished, make for a pleasurable way to discover art. Past bits and pieces of the Collection Majuda (a private collection), this month you can wend your way to three rooms of recent work by Wanda Koop.

roy

Roy Sargent

In the nineteenth century and into the twentieth, Verdun was covered with farms. In fact, it owes its status as a municipality to a group of English and French-speaking gentleman farmers in 1874 who wanted to avoid a perceived tax grab by the City of Montreal. Plus ça change…

The End of Pinky to premiere at TIFF

On September 11, 2013, The End of Pinky, an NFB short by Claire Blanchet, based on the original short story by award-winning author Heather O’Neill, will have its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival. The stereoscopic 3D- animated film is narrated by O’Neill herself and internationally renowned Quebec actor Marc-André Grondin. Last week, I had the chance to speak with Heather O’Neill about her story, the making of Pinky and her future projects.