The Wolves

Was in NYC, and for love nor money, I could not get tickets to Sarah DeLappe’s The Wolves, about a girls’ soccer team.

Bought the script at the Drama Bookshop. I love how a reviewer describes it:

“.. an ensemble of distinct female characters without leaning on romantic partners or traditional feminine tropes...” [TheatreMania]

I can see the appeal. What an ear for female teenage dialogue (when the adults aren’t present). I’d love to see it used at our school, but it’s just so raw. And witty.

One of the tamer exchanges between players:

– what’s the Khmer Rouge

-they’re like Nazis in Cambodia

-but in the 70’s

A Pulitzer Prize nomination did not surprise me.





Toby’s, If Memory Serves

I must have been downtown (Toronto).  My memory is frequently jogged by something I pass by, or rather, by something that is no longer there.

I’m not sure what is in its place now (the new condo?) but I recently had a memory rush of Toby’s (“Good Eats”) Restaurants. One on Yonge Street just south of Bloor, another on Bloor near Bay (if memory serves). The Google gods tell me there still is one open on College Street.

In 1983, I actually had a meeting with a dramaturge from the Shaw Festival about a play idea at the Yonge Street Toby’s. The meeting didn’t last long. By coincidence, after, we each took in Woody Allen’s Zelig (that’s how I recalled it was 1983), playing at the now defunct Plaza cinema (Yonge & Bloor). We said hello once more when the movie was over.

Which makes me think of the now deserted Pottery Barn at Bay & Bloor, which I never went in. I wanted it to be the old University Cinema, long gone. I took a date there to see Murder on the Orient Express (the original) in 1974. The movie was more memorable than the date. So was the theatre- one grand large screen. No Cineplex boxes. I also remember a popcorn server/usher at the cinema with a tremendous lipstick-stained overbite. Hard to forget.

Are all memories still available? They just lie buried, I suppose, waiting to be unearthed. Whatever it takes to jog them.

Other People: Takes & Mistakes

Finished David Shield’s Other People: Takes and Mistakes. Finished is not entirely truthful. I read his latest essay collection selectively. Skipped some of the sports stuff (though I love the idiom-listing of “Words Can’t Describe What I’m Feeling”. The same works well in “Life Story”.)

That I skipped passages that didn’t keep my interest in favour of those that did is, I think, the kind of reading Shields respects. I hope so.

I respect, and enjoy, his writing. Reality Hunger. I Think You’re Totally Wrong. And a title any writer, teacher, or actor would be drawn to: How Literature Saved My Life.

Shields is eminently quotable. I’ll let him have the last word:

“Food, they say, is a substitute for love; so, they should say, is everything else.”

One Bookstore’s Treasure…

Yesterday, I took some books to BMV, the thriving second-hand bookstore chain in Toronto. 

I didn’t want to burden myself too much, so I only took as much as I could get into a knapsack.

My titles were as follows:


Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie (the latest movie tie-in edition)

The Secret Agent by Joseph Conrad

A Swiftly Tilting Planet by Madeleine L’Engle

The Left Hand of Darkness By Ursula K. LeGuin

Young Renny by Mazo De LaRoche

Stories by Reynolds Price

Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen

Practical Jean by Trevor Cole

If Morning Ever Comes by Anne Tyler

The History of Emily Montague by Frances Brook


Mount Pleasant by Don Gillmor

Two CDs:

The Madmen Soundtrack

1959 Greatest Hits

The first store took only the Christie. Said he’d give me $3.00 for the whole collection, or I can just leave the Orient Express. I was surprised the two First Editions (the Cole and the Gillmor) didn’t entice. I left the locomotive murder mystery, and boarded the city underground locomotive to try my luck at the next store.

The next one took a careful look at the collection and rejected all of them. Even the signed First Editions?

“If they’re a big name, maybe.”  First Editions didn’t matter here as much as with book collectors. These stores are trying to move product, and mine would only move in my knapsack out the door.

The chain had one more location. There is something slightly intimate about leaving your well-worn books to be perused and judged by the second-hand bookseller. It feels like taking my clothes off at the doctor’s office. I turned my back as he inspected each item. I perused books on the table nearby, books someone else had brought in for judgement.

“$5.00 for just these.”  He judiciously separated the chosen from the rejected.

He took the L’Engle, the Conrad, and the Price. Maybe more? Why can’t I recall the titles of the others he took? I guess they weren’t that important to me. Which is why they  ended up in a used bookstore. Before ending up in someone else’s home, I hope.

Actually, I didn’t care. I kind of wished I’d left the lot at the first store, for $3, rather than having to lug them around.

Near the last location is one of those Little Free Libraries that have sprouted up- they look like birdhouses from a distance, but contain books, not birds. I dropped off the Tyler and the De la Roche. And the CDs (which may not play after being out in the frigid cold).

I trudged home the Austen, Cole, Le Guin, Brooke, and Gillmor.

I will say one thing for all three stores. Genuinely polite. The Used Bookstore of yore was often overseen by a curmudgeon, who made you feel they were doing you a favour to even deign to look at your precious cargo.

All in all, a pleasant venture. Made $8. More to the point, I culled my collection a bit.

I didn’t buy anything, or trade one title for another.

I’ll be back.

Subways aren’t for Sleeping

Manhattan subway observations, December Holiday break 2017:

Every subway ride has a confident individual, projecting their voice, pacing the car, asking for money for… in this case, a young man, sneakers and hoodie, declaims, to help the homeless who sleep in the subway tunnels. He carries bags of food (or says so). He asks for donations, then moves to a new car at the next stop.


  • A toothless guy reading a dog-eared Game of Thrones
  • Regular announcements about safety as you ride (“If you see something, say something.”) Riders noticeably use their devices. The last time I was there, there were posters warning you not to, due to thefts.
  • A chessplayer, playing on his ereader
  • Overheard, as we exit:

“Let other people off first, listen to what your Nana tells you. Just like yesterday…”

  • Sign in the subway: Sometimes Diamonds are not forever. (Divorce lawyer).


The Iceman Cometh? I think he’s here!

(I hope this poster is not the closest I get to seeing DW in O’Neill’s classic @icemancomethbwy this spring.)