Thursday, December 18, 2008

What Would Mr. Gould Do?

What a chaotic season! I have been so busy with my work at the Foundation, holiday plans, shopping, card signing, baking...I have a hunch that as soon as I beat a cold, someone else passes a new one on to me, leading to the perpetual illness. I cannot wait for the holidays, where I will sit with my family and army of cats (My mother kindly allows me to bring my two critters home to visit with her cats) and do absolutely nothing. What a dream..

No time for the dream yet...Here I am, at the brink of losing my sanity, when the thought occurred to me, What would Mr. Gould do? In a flash of brilliance, I open my browser. I know what Mr. Gould would do. I slowly type in "P-e-t-u-l-a C-l-a-r-k y-o-u-t-u-b-e"

I watch with what only can be described as glee. Somehow I understand exactly why Mr. Gould loved Petula Clark. She is delightful. She is classy. Her dancers are suave and classic, not to mention amusing. I can feel my spirits being lifted.

I should forget all my troubles, forget all my cares. I am downtown. Things will be great!

EPILOGUE: Instead of worrying, in moments of silence, all that is going through my head is "When you're alone and life is making you lonely.." Not for all, but I have embraced it.
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Thursday, December 11, 2008

What to get for Mr. Pianossisimo for X’mas 2008?

In 14 days into Christmas, I know about what to get for Mr. Pianossisimo, my piano teacher, for Christmas. Mr Pianossisimo is a Chopin fan. I have an idea about a gift. Can you guess?

Here are the hints:

1. This thingy is already out of stock in Luckily, Ms. Mommy Bach placed the order before it is out-of-stock. She is always so fast :) When Ms. Mommy Bach plays piano, her rhythm is always faster than needed. :)

2. We have two serious issues about this gift.

o The prints on this thingy are very small. Ms. Mommy Bach cannot read without her reading glass. She said they should have printed everything at least this big in consideration for Ms. Mommy Bach’s generation and beyond.

o This thingy takes foooooorever to upload entirely to my laptop. After that, then comes another long session of trying to figure out how to download from my laptop to my iPod Nano. Just as when you think you are done, Apple© upgrades its iPod Nano to the iPod Touch. And so, I need to spend many more long boring hours uploading from my iPod Nano to my laptop (again) and back again to the iPod Touch. Ms. Mommy Bach got indefinitely infuriated. Now that Apple© is releasing iPhone. Ms. Mommy Bach promises that she won’t buy me the iPhone for sure – to save my time L I wish there is an iPhone pre-loaded with this thingy. I am sure it would make a good Christmas gift for all of us. Maybe I need to write “A Letter to Mr. Sony Classics”, this time as a product suggestion. Where should I send the letter this time? He probably does not know we kids these days are spending more time on laptops uploading and downloading music than doing homework. For classical music students, it is even worse. We have to practice, go to few lessons a week, do musicianship homework, play chamber music …etc.

If you can read backwards, you know what this ‘ygniht’ is :)

“noitcelloC tekacJ lanigirO etelpmoC ehT : doulG nnelG”

hcaB .sM :)

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Monday, December 08, 2008

a snowy surprise, a well-mannered storm

My cats are viciously attacking me. Why won't you let me sleep?!? My alarm clock loudly blares. All hopes of falling back to sleep are lost. I look out my window and discover a snow covered roof. That does not bode well for my trek to work. I climb out of bed. I am so cold. I walk to the bathroom. The toilet overflows. This is clearly not my day.

With the first big snowfall, the subway is packed. I stand with my elbows tucked in tightly at my sides. Stop by stop, the car pushes past capacity. The many scents meld together to create one smothering situation. I arrive at the Foundation in a less than perfect mood and throw myself into my chair. A little brown package catches my eye. A present? For me? I tear open the wrappings. "A Well-Mannered Storm: The Glenn Gould Poems" by Kate Braid. Inside is a little card: "Hi Liz: Enjoy! xo Aunt Ro" Quickly all my struggles are forgotten. What a nice surprise on a cold and snowy day.

Fast Forward: two weeks later...I have finished the book. A Well-Mannered Storm consists of an imagined exchange between Mr. Gould and an admiring fan named "k." Mr. Gould does not answer k directly; instead his responses are expressed through poems capturing his spirit from childhood to old age.

Having forgotten about the lost art of poetry, I enjoyed rekindling my love affair with this unique take on Mr. Gould. (I used to be a master writer of angst-filled poems back in high school. You didn't want to scorn me!) I enjoyed the unique concept but I suspect much was lost on me. Perhaps it was too soon in my quest to know Mr. Gould for such an abstract piece. Perhaps I lack the musical knowledge needed to fully appreciate all of the references and nuances.

What I did understand was how absolutely human and relatable Mr. Gould was (and is) to his adoring fans. k. is going through a challenging time with the loss of hearing in one ear. She is comforted by Mr. Gould in such a strange and beautiful manner. He seems capable of establishing an almost intimate relationship, through his music, through his mannerisms, through his words, with total strangers. That is power. That is beauty.

I might need to revisit this book after I have further honed my skills. True to my own strange personality, after finishing the book, I am stuck on one thought... how did Mr. Gould manage to have a non-deodorized pet skunk!?! I want to know more.
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Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Hello, Glenn? Let me get my notepad...

Last year the Luminato Festival in Toronto presented a one-man play that brought to light an aspect of Glenn Gould's life I'd never really considered before. An Evening with Glenn Gould, written by John McGreevy, centres on a single evening of his life, in particular, his last one. McGreevy, who had collaborated with Gould on the documentary, Glenn Gould's Toronto (it is in this program that Gould in his wonderfully articulate and matter-of-fact fashion, riffs on the dubious delights of the CNE), recalled his final conversation with Gould, citing his conviction that there was no sense of prescience of his own death as he spoke. A review of the play written by critic William Littler, at the time of the staging of the play, cites McGreevy's close association with Glenn. "...I was one of those who received late night phone calls from him. In order to keep myself awake I started taking notes and found them a couple of years ago when moving house. My script draws heavily on Glenn's own words."
What utterly fascinates me is McGreevy's note-taking. How he managed it. Whether much of it is word for word. What was inevitably left out. What struck him as significant or not. I have no doubt that it would have been easy to quietly sit there jotting away while Glenn waxed loquaciously about one thing or another. It seems to me that in most interview clips he enjoyed talking, and in talking, he tried to set it right (or occasionally, have someone on). And in the end what you have can only be what anyone can know of another soul -- shards and bits and scraps, the combination of which cannot make the complete picture. Can you hold up a piece and say it is a symbol of the man? What of all the natural, hapless contradictions that make up a human being?
As for the aspect of Glenn's life that never really occurred to me, there is an incident in the play which I assume is based on truth. A persistent female admirer, initially a seemingly harmless fan, begins to call him. The excellent actor, Ted Dykstra, who played Glenn in this production, seems magnanimous and kind at first, then starts to grow suspicious and even slightly unhinged as the caller presses her point, insisting on a meeting; he is threatened, not with harm but with her avowal to do away with herself if she does not manage to meet him. And it occurs to me that this aspect of fame must have terrified him, not only in terms of the invasion of his privacy and self-imposed isolation but as an example of the desperation and unpredictability of human interaction.
I've just noticed something. Since I have been thinking and writing about Glenn Gould, he has become increasingly human to me and more so Glenn than Glenn Gould.

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