September 2009

In Toronto, on the occasion of my first visit to the AGO (Art Gallery of Ontario,, its façade now pleasingly embellished with wood and glass by Frank Gehry, I went directly down to the lower level to view its collection of intricate, sizable (some a meter long) model ships, a surprising number of which were constructed by French prisoners of war being held in England during the Napoleonic era. Back upstairs I proceeded to take in the Surrealist/Dadaist exhibition, where I was perhaps most impressed by Dali’s jewelry: the Longhorn, the Starfish, and a peridot necklace in the shape of a lion’s head.

Notable movie of the month: The Hurt Locker

Notable video: God & Dog (

Notable book, overtly comic: Terry Pratchett’s Thud!
Excerpts: midway into the book “Vimes bustled the astonished man away before Mr. Boggis was killed on the spot by the God of Overacting”

And near the end (describing coaches that have been flying with aid of attached magical broomsticks): “Then the flying world slowed, while in the fields on either side hundreds of burning cabbages leapt toward the sky, trailing oily smoke. … He heard a brief scream as the rear coach tore past and swerved into a field full of cauliflowers, where, eventually, it squelched to a flatulent halt. And then there was stillness, except for the occasional thud of a falling cabbage.”

Notable book, intermittently comic with patches of tragedy: The Diamond Age, by Neal Stephenson (author of the also recommended Snowcrash)

p235: “… she could see the two corgi dogs outside, peering in through the lead latticework, flabbergasted that they had, through some enormous lacuna in procedure, been left on the outside, wagging their tails somewhat uncertainly, as if, in a world that allowed such mistakes, nothing could be counted on.

“The Constable found a wooden tray and carried it about the room, cautiously assembling a collection of cups, saucers, spoons, tongs, and other tea-related armaments. When all the necessary tools were properly laid out, he manufactures the beverage, hewing closely to the ancient procedure, and set it before them.”

Notable quote: “You can get a whole lot more done with a kind word and a gun than with a kind word alone.” Al Capone (from The Sun)

Noteworthy moment: sitting in Tarifa, Spain, the southernmost town in Europe, in Bamboo, Europe’s southernmost restaurant, enjoying lunch with a friend who happens to own that building (Europe’s southernmost).

True story that is so dramatic as to be nigh-onto unbelievable: The Long Walk: The True Story of a Trek to Freedom, by Slavomir Rawicz, who in 1941 escaped from a Siberian labor camp, and with a few companions walked 4000 miles from there to safety in India.

On the early morning of September 30 I awoke about 12:30am and walked out of the cottage I was occupying in central Sweden to witness the spectacle of the moon and Jupiter in close conjunction about to set over the lake in front of me, the moon delivering an alleyway of golden white light onto the water in my direction, the Great Bear (Big Dipper) low in the northeast. God dag!