Last May D and I drove south to the Niagara frontier to see the Corpse Flower in bloom at the Niagara Floral Showcase and to visit Queenston Heights, because I’m working on a chapter about the battlefield. The Corpse Flower gets its own post, though, as a kind of footnote.
Queenston Heights is a park that was once a battlefield. You know it was a battlefield because there’s a very large monument to Sir Isaac Brock, the English General who led British and Canadian troops against the Americans in October 1812, and who died early in the battle. The memorial tower rises aggressively on the Canadian side of the frontier, with Brock at the very top, pointing toward the American side of the river, as though the tower isn’t only to remind us of the general’s death, but to tell us where and how to look toward his American enemies.
I’m writing this post as a break from what I should be doing, which is either preparing my next lecture, or revising a chapter about commemoration on the Plains of Abraham. I’m feeling a bit worn out by both projects, so I hope it’ll cheer me up to write about something I like.
Not like, even. I love Vaudeville theatres. I love them so much that I’ve written a novel about an imaginary theatre called the Temple, in an imaginary version of Vancouver. My inspiration for the Temple came from the Orpheum and Pantages in Vancouver and the Paramount in Seattle, the McPherson and the Royal in Victoria. There’s a touch of London’s Grand Theatre about it, too, and maybe a little of San Francisco’s Castro (though that one was always a movie palace).
Last spring D and I made the trip out to Whitby, Ontario, for an early Doors Open Toronto event at Intrepid Park. It was May, one of those days that aren’t cold really or warm, but blustery and dull, with a flat, pale sky, and quite a bit of mud.
There are no doors to open at Intrepid Park, because there’s nothing there but a concrete memorial, a few shell holes, and a grassy mound. It’s a nice park, with viewpoints from which you can look along the coast of Lake Ontario toward the downtown skyline, which looks delicate and almost translucent at that distance. Continue reading
So it was my second and last go at tiff today. This time I saw Lore, a German/Australian film directed by Cate Shortland, based on a novel called The Dark Room by Rachel Seiffert. It takes place in Germany in the spring and summer of 1945. It’s about a family of five children, the eldest being the protagonist, Lore, whose father is an SS Officer directly involved in a death-camp. As the allies consolidate their hold on Germany, both parents are arrested. Left alone, the children travel from the Black Forest in the south to their grandmother’s house in the north. Once again, I’m not really reviewing so much as… musing, so here’s a link to more useful information, and an interview with Shortland, on the AFI Blog.
So it was my first go at TIFF this afternoon. I saw The Lebanese Rocket Society, a documentary about Lebanon’s short-lived, and long-forgotten space program in the 1960s. It was made by the artists and filmmakers Joana Hadjithomas and Khalil Joreige.
I wanted to see it as soon as I read the description, which included a lot of my favourite dissertation-relevant things. It’s a work of commemoration, by and about two artists who want to return the Lebanese Rocket Society to public memory. The Society operated between 1960 and 1966, so it’s about the Cold War, too, and a Middle East shadowed by American/Soviet tension, the continuing repercussions of decolonization and the Second World War. Kim Philby even turns up for a moment. Finally, it’s an alternative history of technology and innovation. I mean, it’s about a bunch of kids who built a rocket! Just because they like rockets!