Saturday, July 30, 2005
wrapping things up
Run-around sort-of day. Got a message to run across town to sign a contract, then ran back to work on a grant application, then ran across again for a rehearsal. We tech our Summerworks show, “Capturing Freedom,” from 10am to 2pm on Sunday, after which I jump in a cab for the airport and fly to Edinburgh.
Change of topic:
There are a few considerations that make the otherwise pleasant experience of bringing some stranger a load of your sperm vexing (I'm talking about bringing a sample in for fertility testing). Abstaining up to four days. Then timing the delivery: get there early with your “sample” and they will tell you to return in a few days' time with a fresh dose at 10 am precisely, thank you very much. They will not be ready for you fifteen minutes earlier than that, and not a minute later. Oh well. Another abstention of several days. Then getting nervous about timing, and almost cutting yourself on the sharp opening of the sterilized plastic cup (which is like a circular plastic knife).
Thank gawd that's done, is all I can say. But what happens next? What do they do with the precious fluids?
In an effort to find out, I googled “sperm count”. Most of the hits I got back were about “low sperm count.” I never stop believing that we are a society of pessimists. I follow a few links regardless.
“mothersbliss.co.uk” tells us that “A count of below 20 million sperm per ml is a low sperm count and may need to be treated as it reduces a man's fertility and may affect your chances of conception. Simple treatment of low sperm count could be wearing looser underwear and reducing the intake of cigarettes and alcohol.”
the fairly neutral “MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia” states that:
The normal volume varies from 1.5 to 5.0 milliliter per ejaculation. The sperm count varies from 20 to 150 million sperm per milliliter. At least 60% of the sperm should have a normal shape and show normal forward movement (motility).
When you see optimistic attitudes towards sperm counts, you can be sure there's a product being pushed: “Here's a topic that every man has thought about, but few discuss: the abundant, potent volume and intense shooting power of the healthy, virile male.” ... not sure I can comment further on that.
I'm not learning much of real value here, but it's keeping me entertained. Until the ADD kicks in.
Wednesday, July 27, 2005
Living under smog alerts
Saw some applique graffiti yesterday, and some funky arty stuff too. Every summer the best graffiti alley in Toronto undergoes a bit of a transformation.
Meetings and theatre stuff continue apace. Have to do 100 things this week before flying to E-burgh, and even the rainy days here are smog days -- there seems to be no relief this year from dense, heavy air thick with ... gross unmentionables. It's not as stinky as pollution in other cities -- in Bogota you know you're getting your smog pretty much direct from the tailpipe. But the humidity in Toronto turns the air into a diffuse, weighty pillow of gases pressed down over your face. You feel it as a pain in the lungs, a few minutes after you lock your bike and dive into an air-conditioned building.
Had a creepy bike ride on the way home, last night. Half the downtown core was in a blackout for most of the day, but as I was cruising home around 10pm it seemed like power had been restored – I usually travel east along Queen st, and all the lights were working business as usual. But a few of the north-south streets were still powerless. Parliament street was a deep lightless cave tunneling up into the night like a rural highway.
A flag with which to claim sovereignty over a few spare hours of time.
A coo to calm a computer that doesn't want to cooperate with you.
A thought in a foreign language that is more reassuring than any thought in your own.
A way of rubbing your temples so that unpleasant things stop being visible to you.
Friday, July 22, 2005
Rehearsal in the Passe Muraille Backspace
My last gig before Edinburgh (aside from a quick flurry of grant applications) is a show in the Summerworks festival called "Capturing Freedom" -- it's about sisters separated by an ocean: one is a kid in Capetown, the other a teenager in small town Ontario. Add a cross-dressing comedian, some Zulu witchcraft, and go.
I love the Passe Muraille backspace -- such a cosy, intimate room. And it's nice to be working and feel inspired by it. Yesterday I had to struggle uphill to get going on the grant writing. ugh. I felt that society was flatlining and I was under acheiving.
"Nominals. We are a society of nominals. Nominally Christian, nominally solvent, nominally middle class... there are not many things that we are to the full extent that we could be, although we behave as if we were – fully ,completely -- all the things we say we are. Is that hypocrisy? We are all hypocrites – and not just nominally. Demonstrably.
Do we need a demonstration? I can't decide if that would be hypocritical. But of course it would have to be. A bit."
that was yesterday. Thank god it's today. Not sure what the prospects for tomorrow are, though. You never are.
Tuesday, July 19, 2005
what is other people's love
Had a conversation with Gavin at the Tarragon today about some friends of ours. Their relationship mystifies us. They say things to each other that amaze us -- that we would find seriously uncool. On some level I wonder about every couple I meet, I guess. I'm sure people wonder about Bea and I.
Bea made fun of me today because I have to shoot off into a plastic cup and bring it to a lab for analysis. We've been checking ourselves out lately to figure out if we're likely to have kids. I've never really wanted to know myself, and I'm kind-of liking my simple ignorance of my state of reproductive health. If a baby comes, we deal – that's always been my approach. But this is something that we have to know because we're not in our twenties anymore, and as the years go by we may not have any choices about having kids. Therefore, we're checking ourselves out.
So there we are, having dinner in the back yard, and she looks me in the face with a goofy smile and her tongue hanging out as she slouches and pumps her invisible penis. This is the woman I love. Sperm counts have never been so much fun.
A sonata of beats played upon parked cars by one-armed musicians with baseball bats.
A lesson in how to smell.
A song for raccoons living in your attic, sung at the solstice to convince them to leave.
Friday, July 15, 2005
Wednesday, July 13, 2005
Brandenburger Tor then and now
I'm going through my mountain of images from the last two months to make sure I haven't neglected any good ones. Only a few get into the blog, some because they are of significant things (as here), some because they capture a moment, some because I think they look cool. It's the kind of hobby that can really eat up a lot of time.
This is an installation called "180degrees Berlin" (they have a great website, in German: www.180gradberlin.de ) -- showing a huge panorama of this very place in 1945, after a couple years of Allied bombing. I wish this thing could be put up in cities across North America -- each city painted as if it had gone through this hell -- to get it into people's heads just what happens when they send their war machines in to "soften" targets with bombs. Very powerful. Other cities in this project include Coventry, Stalingrad, Rotterdam, and Warsaw.
Wednesday, July 06, 2005
you have to practice to be a person
When we were in Medellin, Colombia last month I met Bea's friend Marie Elena. She claims that she was once "the greatest smoker in all of the Americas." She spoke of the patience and conscious effort required to live with people. "You have to practice to be a person," she said.
For me, this rang true because I always feel the tension between being sociable and engaging with the people I know and / or love, and engaging with books, ideas, the web, games -- more solitary persuits. In Colombia it could easily mean many other things: how hard it is to be good to other people in a place where greed and strength seem to be the quickest ways to securing your livelihood. But in Colombia I find people who are friends stay friends, through their personal fuckups and fights, far more faithfully than here in Toronto.
Strange that I heard this in Colombia, and then went to work on a play ("Revolutions in Therapy" by Nadia Ross and Jacob Wren) in which this same idea is expressed. Maybe its part of the Zeitgeist for 2005.
Tuesday, July 05, 2005
On the Bloor viaduct
At any point in the day it happens: suddenly you think about something you just said, or the looks on people's faces, or what you look like... and you seem completely ridiculous.
Remember: only your honesty can save you.
A graph that charts the market value of a clear conscience.
A conduit between people for the transmission of confidence and reassurances.
Sunday, July 03, 2005
I never got back to talking aobut the trip to Colombia. It was beautiful, as the last time I was there... but also more harsh. Intense. In Medellin, Bea had several times pulled me aside, our backs to a post or tree, as we waited for some guy who was following us to give up on us and pass on by. When that happens a few times, you start to want to go home. And yet, I couldn't stop wanting to see more.
The shot above was taken in a town on the central Cordillera of the Andes, an hour and a half north of Bogota. Zipaquira is famous for hosting a cathedral scooped out of a working salt mine.
Berlin Holocaust memorial
This is more than a monument -- it's an installation, a park, a set of passages, a cubist landscape, a little city in a block... a very positive experience. Hearing kids laughing as they climbed around / through this maze of monoliths was lovely. Some point, maybe years from now, they'll understand better what the memorial is for... I think they'll take it to heart even more strongly then.
Friday, July 01, 2005
Left all the fabulous art and festival stuff behind (such as the installation called "Kuba", above, in the Hauptbanhof) for a train ride to Berlin and then a plane back to Canada.