Saturday, April 29, 2006

The Travels of EclectEcon

The EclectEcon is now in the UK for some months.

Having gone through it myself, I find delightfully personal reports of how entertainingly different life there is from life here. He has started posting and will surely do a lot more.

Tune in! I am following it and you should too. He has already discovered many key features of the UK.

What a Difference a Week Makes

A week ago Friday I flew from Toronto to Portland, and of course found utter delight at the greenness all around me when I arrived. What I had left was life trying to fight its way back into action.

Returning yesterday I was stunned and delighted at what had happened in a week. Perhaps the most exciting symptom is the small apple tree in my backyard; last year it produced two or three flowers. This picture shows one bud - there are well over a hundred others this year. This is an utter delight to me.

Cat bliss

Ollie has decided it is worth enjoying the outside world in a major way. Remember that he is 20 - and deserves all his sensual pleasures.

Back to Life - let's start with the return of Woody Allen to usefulness

Previous posts will make it clear that I have been away from Toronto for some time (where my profile says I am based). I don't really like to follow the pattern of announcing on my weblog that I am about to go silent for x days because I will be elsewhere, as it seems an obvious sort of announcement to be farmed by burglars (yes I know I have done that to some small degree in the past).

I am now home again, and while on the Pacific Coast, living on something between Mountain and Central Time, I woke up one day last week and realized I had two hours during which my eyes would not close in any useful way, so I should pop on the coffeemaker in the hotel room and pick a movie available on the hotel room TV. Thursday morning I picked Woody Allen's 'Match Point'.

Over my life I have been an inordinate fan of many of his films. I liked the early funny ones. And I thought both "Hannah and her Sisters" and "Husbands and Wives" were extraordinary. As was "Crimes and Misdemeanours". Is there not that great word 'bittersweet'? Mixed with some horror.

"Match Point" was such a refreshing improvement from the recent films. A wonderful script, a beautifully chosen cast (I have one reservation to come), photography that made it clear how the world closed on the protagonist , and all sorts of entertaining allusions, as well as amusing indirections.

Only one thing stood in the way of my 'feeling' the fim, rather than just absorbing it primarily intellectually, albeit with great admiration and pleasure. It was the idea that Scarlett Johannson is a more compelling object of lust than Emily Mortimer. To make this work I think Allen has to assume most viewers have not seen the body examination requested in Lovely and Amazing. Well, OK, or may assume they don't have my views on this. Well, in the end, there is no real logic to those things.

UPDATE: The previous morning I watched 'Derailed' - it was surprisingly good, even when I assumed the major later plot twist from the first ten minutes of the film. The two films have one interesting structural factor in common, in that perpetrators of a crime wind up undetected.

UPDATE 2 : It seems from IMDB that the Johannson role was Kate Winslet's originally. Now that would have removed the separation of my emotions from my intellect nicely!

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

When did I last laugh with such pleasure

This is completely joyful mischief, and I recommend that all faculty deans give this sort of thing a try - follow Alex Tabarrok's recommendation:

Check out this awesome music video (click on the link and go to Every Breath You Take). Dean, Dean Baby (econ rap!) is also great. Glenn Hubbard, coolest Dean ever.

Here is the key links.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Vacation spots for the faint of heart

In my previous post I mentioned visiting this site:

One looks over the mountain from a ridge which had been the target during the eruption of a "stone wind", from which the previously lushly forested ridge is just beginning to recover twenty-five years later. In the middle of reflecting on the sheer destruction, surrounded by dead tree stumps, missing their trees, which lie in piles nearby like toothpicks, one begins to wonder about the good sense of being in that spot.

This becomes particularly true when one of your colleagues, who visited the mountain shortly afterwards, returns with this cellphone photo of the same mountain:

Monday, April 24, 2006

Portland? Indeed

Someone commented, "Who on earth would schedule a business meeting in Portland in April?". Well, I know who scheduled this one and she is getting a big thank-you from me. A weekend consisting of trips to Oregon vineyards, the Columbia Gorge, Multnomah Falls, and Mount St. Helen's, all of it in pleasant sunny weather, was the start. And the view out my hotel window is of this other nearby volcano (and that water is the Columbia River passing by).

I have heard stories about rain in Portland but there is none predicted for the rest of this week so I am becoming pretty skeptical of those who talk about it.

Monday, April 17, 2006

No it's not Capistrano

But it is still yet another great sign when the swallows came back - and they were dancing about in the sky this morning during my morning jog at the waterfront.
I saw only two (likely) oldsquaws, so I suspect it will be autumn before I see them in numbers.
Most of the birds were in pairs. Ahh, a young bird's fancy ....
A song sparrow (I am pretty sure, but these LBBs (little brown birds) can be hard to sort out) was singing away on one of the points, the same point where one of that species turns up every spring (the same bird? I do not know).
Cormorants aplenty were scouring the inner bay, and it has been a while since that has been so prominent (they nest all year nearby, but their visiting schedules seem more a matter of commuting inthe early morning somewhere farther east).

New-found Celebrity for Ollie

I am Ollie's chief of staff, and he has discovered that he is the Catmodel of the day at the Carnival of the Cats site. He has asked me to make this statement.

I want to thank all those who have contributed to this achievement and all who have commented on this weblog wishing me well.

Twenty years ago, after all my siblings had vanished from my family, my parents (ok, my mother's chief of staff) sent me off to a hotel near my birthplace. I have been told since then that on that day I resisted and made an escape run, and that I was in no shape to, covered with fleas, and, as they say contemptuously, "the runt of the pack". Well, my last sibling expired many years ago, sadly (though she was not very nice), and I have never thought there was any virtue in sheer size. I had to spend years living with a rather corpulent hotel-mate - a fine fellow, but with little discipline.

He also lacked vision. We spent years during which he would toadyingly chase things the staff put before us while I found subjects of pursuit nobody else could see. I do not know what is wrong with all those others around me, but I knew what was going on. I have heard the staff muttering about their master 'seeing Martians', but if that is their characterization, they should consider that there ARE Martians to see.

Lately, the staff have been failing on numerous grounds. There was a time they knew how to prepare food, and any bowl they put in front of me was full of attractive offerings. Over the last year or two they seem to have totally lost their skills. Most meals I have presented to me are pathetic - tasteless, uninteresting, and they do not seem to get it! They are older than I am - how can they not figure these simple things out?! Occasionally, and this has required a lot of coaching, I hear them muttering about cat treats, and about 30% of what follows that is edible.

Worse, the staff have been through a terrible spell in another way. They have this court behind the hotel, and for much of the last several months it has been covered by some freakingly cold white substance they put there every year for a while. Only now have they seemed to clear that away. Still, the heating they have arranged is inconsistent at best at this point. (And yes, in a couple of months, I will be complaining about how hot they are making the hotel.) (Actually, they engage in this game at some not quite predictable rhythm - I have kept them on despite this arbitrariness, but it is very annoying. I am not amused.)

The staff have another bad habit I really hate. The chief of staff has a tendency to disappear for several days at a time - he seems an OK character, and I have no idea where he is going, but he leaves in charge a dubious bunch. They would be OK if they just left me alone! But, and this likely reflects my celebrity, none of them is able to. Still, it is a tough decision - overall, he is OK, so I am not quite ready to bargain upward.

One of the bunch offers me this non-food, and sticks a needle in me (though I grudgingly confess, I actually feel pretty good AFTER the fact). Another one insists on trying to be goo-goo with me, but makes loud noises and hunts me when I just go try to find a place of peace.

My philosophy is, "Enjoy life, but complain loudly to your staff to help that cause along". And so I now mostly sleep, preferably in the sun, and put the staff to the test of who can hold out longer. It is also very enjoyable to discover that my natural habits maximally inconvenience the chief of staff - 3 am is one of the great times of day, and he has yet to understand that.

Perhaps I will be back for my 21st birthday next year, but one thing for certain: I wish to pass on my best to all my fellow species members, and hope they have staff far more competent than the clowns in this hotel.
I was told I was not allowed to do this but I doubt he will read it so let me try to defend myself. The salary he offers is pathetic, so I need a second job to keep going. And that means I must occasionally go away. (Well, I also need vacation from the master, but I don't distinguish those in front of him). The needle stuff is not heroin - the old coot needs saline shots.

FWIW, he was originally christened 'Nova', but he was renamed 'Oliver aka Ollie', modelled on Oliver North during the Iran-Contra hearings. The same ornery nature. And it shows.

Seven Deadly Sins

Now there was an amusing idea for a quiz!

Wrath:Very Low
Envy:Very Low
Pride:Very Low

Take the Seven Deadly Sins Quiz

(h/t Ian )

Thursday, April 13, 2006

One of my favourite blogs

... is from someone with whom I rarely agree. And though I must admit I will have to wait until Brokeback Mountain makes it onto my local cableTV, I am suspecting this reaction will be mine (with lesser personal knowledge).

I was impressed that the line in the initial trailers that caused me to giggle ("I can't quit you") vanished quickly. But the remaining trailers just look vapid. And the best thing in a cowboy movie is the stampede - what does that leave shepherds!?

The vital comment in the cited review is, of course:
Beautiful scenery, though
Well, yes, like another film we mentioned here a while ago.

A Major Milestone

His twentieth birthday is around now; he spends most of the day sleeping (except for the period from 3am to 5am, greatly to the annoyance of his staff), and he particularly likes sleeping in the sun, and has become quite good at finding all the places it shines.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

I ache to think ...

...I could have had the courage of those passengers.

And will never feel the hatred and savagery of the instigators.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Well that quiz worked out well!

You Belong in Paris

You enjoy all that life has to offer, and you can appreciate the fine tastes and sites of Paris.
You're the perfect person to wander the streets of Paris aimlessly, enjoying architecture and a crepe.
What European City Do You Belong In?

Hollywood at close to its Best

Its best is likely 'Casablanca', but I am enjoying 'The Magnificent Seven' on Moviepix again. To be honest I do not think I have ever seen Kurosawa's original 'Seven Samurai'. In a way this makes my views on this film more straightforward. I did see 'Yojimbo' and found it amusing. But to be honest the cowboy myths have a stronger hold on me than the Samurai ones do (and let's log that the Brokeback guys tend sheep, not cattle, though it likely makes no difference).

A stunning cast, great music, and a plot that poses its questions well. I just watched one farmer character talking to the McQueen character about fear. And the tough question of when you decide to stand up and fight rather than submit to oppression. Robert Vaughn plays brilliantly against character from his other roles. There is beautiful play on career progression. there is good humour. And there is a rightly inspiring story.

And the story is forced to a resolution. It is a wonderful tale of mercenaries doing the right things.

Wow was I wrong

Three or four years ago I was eager for Paul Martin to become our Prime Minister. He had impressed me greatly in his years as Finance Minister. And his team talked of ideas and vision.

Well, it did not work out. As Prime Minister, he inspired 'The Economist' to call him 'Mr. Dithers'. And partly as a result, a young unknown politician named Stephen Harper, who has taken on successive unpromising roles is now our Prime Minister.

In only a few weeks he has taken steps that show he will never be christened 'Mr. Dithers'. Listening to the waffling about our role in Afghanistan, he quietly visited the troops and committed that we would not 'cut and run'. He has held firm on the priorities he campaigned on. Watching clips today from the Question Period session after he introduced his Accountability bill (trying to prevent the sucking up of public funds and corruption characteristic of the recent Liberal years), he was very impressive.

This has raised the bar for the Liberal leadership competition, and it is welcome. They have a good number of great candidates today. I have every hope the next ten to twenty years of our political lives will be a vast improvement over what we now leave behind.

Monday, April 10, 2006

CBC's "Sunday Edition" a few years ago gave long airtime to an appallingly uncritical interview with Michael Behe, with the breathless and uncritical interviewer being Michael Enright. Behe made his claims about irreducible complexity, and I recall no rebuttal (my recollection might well be wrong).

Now it was true at the time that there are great gaps in the understanding of the formation of proteins. And of course now the gaps are being chipped away at. This post describes the situation nicely.

Many Canadians laugh at the backwardness of the US Intelligent Design advocates. They should not forget this nonsense is being taught seriously in the Toronto high school system funded by the Ontario government.

Sleight of Hand

Among many, Instapundit fell for this one.

Consider the simple fact, drawn from the official temperature records of the Climate Research Unit at the University of East Anglia, that for the years 1998-2005 global average temperature did not increase.

This assertion is likely true and completely irrelevant - Tim Lambert exposes it perfectly.

Just go actually look at the temperature records of the Climate Research Unit at the University of East Anglia.

Could this be an honest error. I suppose it could.


They are in Kansas! And it must be right - it is Chip Taylor reporting!

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Occasional Utter Delights

Some time ago the CBC Newsworld network decided to bridge the gap between The Two Solitudes (this is real, neither side knows a lot overall about the other), and announced they would have a show on the English Network called "Au Courant". When they announced it ould be hosted by Mitsou Gelinas there was much skepticism in the land.

On the show broadcast this morning she interviewed Michel Tremblay, far and away Canada's most interesting playwright of the last 30 years. It was utterly delightful; and doubtlessly partly because of something I had learned only during her career on this show, which I watch regularly with delight, that she is a granddaughter of Gratien Gelinas.

But forget that - while that did come up, her intereview was Tremblay's. See his plays. I have now seen four or five and all of them have been a delight.

And I have seen now many Mitsou interviews on this delightful show and can only say how delightful it is to find my early skepticism completely refuted by the excellence of her work.

For all those who think we Humans do Nothing but harm to Other Species

This picture from a San Diego trip sort of tells the story. But, actually, thinking about it, maybe there are lots of other seals dreaming of these bureaucratic jobs maintaining the buoys and they just cannot get them!

A Fading Monarch has Staggered into South Carolina

I am amazed how far they manage to get.

For a fascinating take on another flying insect go to 'The Bee's Knees' section of this offering.

Friday, April 07, 2006

Scaups are coming through

The bay was full of Scaups this morning - not sure whether they were lesser or greater, and I hope they don't get too hung up on that. The redheads were gone. There are still chatty oldsquaws around. The Scaups will be gone shortly. Migration is amazing!
The saddest sight was this poor fellow - clearly wondering where his parents were and not knowing what to do. I hope it was sorted out.

Belinda out, Ignatieff in, Dion in

Of course the Liberal party leadership is likely to be an important determinant of how Canadian politics look in the longer run.

Michael Ignatieff and Stephane Dion have announced their candidacies. They are both very bright, and I suspect this means the race will get very interesting. Ignatieff, in particular, has some positions entirely out of touch with recent Liberal history, and I suspect he can defend them. It should be good theatre. He is a scion of a patrician family that goes back a long way (imagine my surprise finding a George Ignatieff in the Flashman book about the Crimean War!).

Belinda Stronach did us the kindness to withdraw from the race, though of course this will reduce the comedic elements. No doubt someone else will join in to replace her in this role.

It has become clear that our new Prime Minister is a very bright boy. It seems we may wind up with a bunch of them battling one another soon. In so many ways we are a very lucky country.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Monarchs have reached Georgia

Very tired females have been seen.

At the same time tune in to the Masters coverage and listen to those very insistent Cardinals. They are amazing!!

Spring Religious Ceremonies

I have mine and it is The Masters.

The flowers on the screen, the constant screech of the cardinals, it all reeks so nicely of the change of seasons (not to say we do not have our winter cardinals here).

But mostly Ilike to watch the humans trying to excel, the flowers exult, and hear the cardinals assert themselves.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Les Jeux sont Faits

I now have airline tickets taking me to Charles de Gaulle airport May 29, and a centre court ticket for Roland Garros on May 31. There are a number of risks in this. But I bet it all works out, and France justifies my faith yet again.

My travel agent was honest enough to supply their travel advisory:


5/4 - 5/4 Student protests continue in France. Details

4/4 - 4/4 Nationwide, transportation strikes are occurring in 32 other cities, including Toulouse and Marseille.

4/4 - 4/4 Delays and cancellations to domestic and European flights are occurring due to a strike by air traffic controllers, and Ryanair has canceled all of its flights into and out of the country.

4/4 - 5/4 French air traffic control staff also plan to take industrial action, this will be ongoing until the morning of April 5. Details

4/4 - 4/4 A runway demonstration by protesting French students has prevented a a flight from returning to Britain. Details

Decidedly not comforting!

Water Fowl Max

Yesterday's morning walk down at the waterfront featured a new bird - a Redhead and his mate! We're likely at the max now with Redheads, Buffleheads, Goldeneyes, Oldsquaws, Swans, Canada Geese, and Mallards. Soon all but the last three will be gone for the summer. This year the Oldsquaws and Buffleheads stayed all winter. It is interesting to see that the others like warmer winters.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Is There More than One Episode of CSI:NY?

I have been trying work on the what are the themes of the three CSI series.

Straight CSI seems mostly about bureaucracy - management, performance evaluation, disgruntled employees. At least that is what makes it fun. The other stuff, the gore, the pseudo-science, all seems gratuitous. But the personnel stuff can fill an hour every week.

CSI: Miami is all about (and I have watched many episodes) Caine's sunglasses, and where he places his hands on his hips at the end of each episode. But the 'lab' stuff is all the same ridiculpous stuff as in CSI, with an arguably cuter analyst.

But what is CSI:NY? I just tried watching it for the fourth time. It was the SAME episode as each previous time. Now we should be careful here - that episode (from my previous three tries) had some great things. Penelope Ann Miller's breasts. But I now know as well they appear only in the first ten minutes and last five minutes of the episode. So I can miss the intervening ketchup ads, no matter h0w impressive Gary Sinise is. This cannot be good for the show.

Do they plan to make a second episode? That would at least keep the tension up a bit. More body parts are required!

Yet Another Standing Ovation!? - Hair at CanStage

We went to see Canadian Stage's production of 'Hair' yesterday. Neither of us had ever seen any production of it before (I was of age to in its first incarnation but it did not appeal). As SW (SillyWife) observed, it is likely that the company is doing such revivals as those of us who were of age to watch it back then now have plenty of money to pay the high costs of current theatre tickets. Next year they promise "Rocky Horror Picture Show" (sigh). 'Hair' had never figured in SW's 'cosmology'.
I had very low expectations, made lower by reading the review in The Globe and Mail in the morning. More on it later.
At the end of the first act, we were both pleasantly surprised, and agreed on a grade of B- to B for the production. My overall score sank to C+, as the second act scored a D, and, even worse, the play ended with those curtain calls where you cannot leave because everybody else in the house is up and clapping hands and singing "Let the Sun Shine In" as the cast endlessly reappears. I have endured such things more willingly - when I saw 'Mamma Mia' the confinement was bearable, because Abba songs are marvellous. But 'Let the Sun Shine In'? All around us people were standing and applauding - I was astounded. (Faithful readers know that this is not my first time in this, I think the worst of all, seasons I have subscribed to Canadian Stage.) Looking through the gaps in the legs around me I could see a few others who had not leapt to their feet.
And indeed found them as we walked out of the theatre. A woman behind us said "I think I burst two eardrums" and caused a general outbreak of mirth, and a comment from someone beside us, "I hope THAT gets into a review". So I said, "I promise it will", as I felt the same. So here it is.
What made me relatively like the first act? I thought it did capture the spirit of the times well (I was 19-20 then, but a nerd, and glad for it today) - the good things, the willingness to experiment, and the bad things, the appalling lack of judgment, and the utter self-righteousness. It is impressive that the writers got all those aspects, though they seemed to be fully part of giving themsleves in to it all. It made me nostalgic about some things, and turned my stomach at others, but it gave voice to a good deal, and if mostly from a teen-aged viewpoint, why not?
SW and I wondered what the current cast must have thought of trying to play these people with enthusiasm today - the program notes observed that they went through indoctrination sessions. They might well have needed them. They acquitted themselves well, in my view.
It stunned me to think this was the success the program notes say it was in the late '60s. Mediocre punning dialogue, childish posturing and attempts to epater le bourgeois, and moderately OK music. But this is not Sondheim and this was not Rogers and Hammerstein. But surely in its way at the time that was the point - like punk later, this posturing hit nerves.
The title is superbly revealing. It is mind-bending to think what energy was focussed on the length of the hair of young males by authorities in the '60s. (And when I spent a month in Singapore as little as 15 years ago, I had a long chat with a professional colleague who explained to me it was crucial they kept their hair length laws so that they could tell women from men - of course that was not the issue, and I found his claims funny - but I think now it was their well-justified battle to scotch the snake of the drug trade.) But it WAS. It was clearly a point of felt control. And give credit to the young 'uns, they broke it! Heck, at times, my hair got past the nape of my neck, and I know darned well it was uncomfortable! I keep it off my ears always now.
The other point of control that failed was 'dirty words'. So there is an early song in the show using the whole panoply. And it is funny - it sounds childish, like a 3-year old throwing the forbidden back at Mom. And of course that is what it was. The occasional 'sex scenes' look ludicrous now.
Time has not been kind to this show, but partly that is because the show served the cause it was part of. It made itself irrelevant. As it should be.
The second act was a great disappointment, but I fear that for me it was simply because the costume designer put the actresses in delightfully revealing outfits in the first act, and then covered them all up in the second (she had her reasons but I did not like them). To be fair to me, SW did not much like the seond act either.

I promised to return to the Globe Review. I shall just lift some comments from him and comment on them.
A relentless collage of unsubtle video projection, vintage fashion show and karaoke-grade singing, this production only succeeds in pulling the dubious double feat of undermining the old musical and exposing the vacuity of its new interpreters.
Everything he describes there describes perfectly what the late '60s were like! Was he there? And the 'karaoke-grade' singing is a lousy cheap shot - why is he so angry?
Prior's vision, if that's the right word, of the 1960s counterculture scene is superficial in the extreme.
As it was. What is in the show is shockingly and wonderfuly accurate.
All that talk about parallels between Vietnam and the war in Iraq that was supposed to prove the relevance of this period piece was just that: talk.
No idea what talk there was but the connections are slim indeed. There is a war. The whole plot of 'Hair' centres on the draft. There is no draft today. I have noted many attempts to make 'connections' to the situation today from people with no knowledge of history (note previous posts regarding Opera Atelier).

Next there is a complaint about:
video-game-like imagery that only enhances the high-school feel of the night -- a night hijacked by the audio-visual club at that. From newsreel footage to psychedelic colour explosions, practically every moment in Hair is accompanied by this barrage
Well, I and the 'lost eardrum' woman agree to a degree (it was way too loud!!) but for Pete's sake this show is about high school rebellion! (Even with 30+ year old actors as students.)

And then the review turns really nasty:
Normally critics are on autopilot in complaining when the visual overload of a show upstages the cast or unfairly competes with it. (See The Lord of the Rings for the ultimate illustration of this critical mantra.) This time, however, I'd like to part company with my own tribe to note there is a silver lining to the cloud of sensory overload: It offers a distraction from the thoroughly dull cast of largely unknown and untried musical-theatre performers. The thinking behind such risky casting in a high-profile production is admirable; the execution significantly less so.

Wow! And what crap! The writer is true about 'untried' and 'unknown'. But I did not for a second have the smallest feeling any 'dull'-ness exhibited came from the performers. I grant I don't much like the basic show or its conception, but my feel was the performers were doing wonderfully, for the most part, what they were asked to do. I don't think the problem with the execution was the cast - I think it was the basic show. His next paragraph:
Collectively, there's a wholesomeness -- which is not to be confused with innocence, lost or otherwise -- to the cast that denies the material its social undertones and its rebellious spirit. Everybody seems to function emotionally at the level of a cruise-ship production of Annie.
Well, I never saw the much more subtle original. Was it different? The social undertones of the actual material seem trivial, and the rebellious spirit utterly superficial. That is not because of the cast.

On the other hand I think the reviewer has a point - it must be near impossible, as surmised above by SW, for a young cast today to make any sense of this material, whatever re-education they undergo.

Another nice line from the reviewer:
There's no good news to report when it comes to the singing.
SW and I respectfully disagree across the board. This is not 'Don Giovanni' but I would like him to be more specific. It is not supposed to be 'Don Giovanni' - it is supposed to be somewhat crude!

He gets a cute line in:
The real tragedy in this Hair is not Vietnam but the vocal massacre of one great song after another.
There are few great songs in this show.
From the opening chords of Aquarius to the closing anthem Let the Sunshine In, from the comic Frank Mills to the thunderous Ain't Got In, the singing lacks feeling, character and, well, singing ability.
SW and I disagree. The woman who sang the opening Aquarius, not Dame Janet Baker, drew us in nicely. It ain't much of a song, so why would this matter anyway? Was Frank Mills about finding the lost guy? I thought that was done nicely. I do not recall Ain't Got In, but I doubt it was the cast in any way. I thought Easy to be Hard was done very well. The material is really not that good overall so why blame it on the cast?

And then this revealing comment:
It all rather forces one to re-think the place of Hair within American musical-theatre history, at the very least as a "now more than ever" work. Time has left this show behind.
Well, yeah, overall it seems to me a pretty mediocre piece of work. I think CanStage revived it for a bunch of reasons - some commercial, some maybe even believing it was important. It was popular, but I agree it looks irrelevant. Not for failings of this revival, but for its essence. This is not Steven Sondheim.

And the review finishes with its ugliest ad hominem:
For most of the cast in this spectacularly awful revival, the cruise ship awaits.
It is hard to explain how much that line disgusts me. The producers clearly went out of their way to give up-and-comers a shot, a few of them off recent time entertaining on cruise ships (all Norwegian by the way, which makes the slight nastier to me). None of the individuals clearly targeted by that last line in the review was manifestly bad. Makes me wonder what is really going on here. But I would really like to talk to the editor who let this review go by.

If this is the quality of theatre reviewing the main Toronto papers are now offering I would think the cruise lines are pretty attractive. No vicious losers determining the course of your lives.

UPDATE: A no more pleasant review from Richard Ouzounian (whom I once liked to use as a bellwether):
What always made past productions of Hair fly was the talent of the cast, but even that is lacking this time around. Let's be honest, most of the young actors on stage are not on the A or even B list of local talent available.
Of course Ouzounian is the pro but I fear again he has a romanticized view that there was ever much to this show. And the easiest scapegoats are the current performers. Give me a break. Who in his right mind would want hear "Let the Sun Shine in" sung twenty times in a row?

UPDATE: It sure is not pretty watching the old '60s generation being held up for respectability past all reason, is it?

In fact let us do it with Ouzounian's review in the Star:
This production could move intact to a cruise ship — although they'd probably ask for better performers in most roles.
What gets these guys going on cruise ships? It is true two cast members had that experience but it is likely more of a test than these reviewers have ever really faced.
The original production by Tom O'Horgan staged it superbly, culminating in a strobe-lit phantasm where rebellious black slaves morph into the North Vietnamese army.
And who would want to watch that today or think it relevant? In fact the real problem here is not that they did it incorrectly but that they kept it in the show at all.
Let's be honest, most of the young actors on stage are not on the A or even B list of local talent available.
Flat assertion, utterly unpleasant, from yet another likely B list performer (as a critic).
Kimmy Choi was unable to earn a single laugh (at the preview I saw) with the sure-fire comedy song "Frank Mills."
Maybe I am the idiot. I thought that song and the "Easy to be Hard" song were touching and well-sung, the rest testosterone-laced nonsense. I now learn from Mr. Ouzounian that rather than be touched by the last line saying she does not want her money back but wants to see Frank again, I should be howling with laughter.

This is sad.

I used to read Richard Ouzounian's reviews and consider them halfway intelligent and sensitive. One of the two is missing. One missing is enough to care no longer.

They're Back!!!!

We did the usual weekend morning walks this weekend, and they were the usual delight. The oldsquaws are still represented, but the shift to summer species is becoming obvious - robins are now everywhere, and a little flitty brown bird was prominent.
But our real question was whether a certain creature was back in action. And the pictures here show that in fact the answer is yes, perhaps to the detriment of some trees and park department staff!