I'm out of town for the next couple of days to attend two interesting events. One is Margaret Atwood doing a performance reading of her new book and the other is the Dalai Lama who's come to Canada to chat with a huge group of people. Both are kind of unusual, and it was nice of them to organise the events one day after the next in the same city. That city isn't mine, however, so I'm going to that city today. And bringing my cat.
I don't currently have a cat-sitter who is confident enough to get pills down Bean's throat every 12 hours, so in the absence of that, she's coming with me. I'm sure she'll enjoy the Dalai Lama too. ;D
Getting to listen to Margaret Atwood read one of her books sounds like a wonderful experience. You might not end up as impressed with the Dalai Lama. He spoke at a conference a few years ago, and everyone I know who attended his talk were disappointed. It was a lot of time in lines for all the security they have for his visits, and then his entire talk is given via a translator, and they didn't even think it ended up all that interesting. But, that might be that they were expecting something different out of his talk too, since it was invited as part of a conference.
Hope all goes well with Bean during your travels together.
Back! What an action-packed two days that was. I'm exhausted.
Margaret Atwood released a new book The Year of the Flood at the beginning of September. So this was a book launch, but one with a twist. She wrote an abbreviated version of the book and the event was billed as "A dramatic and musical presentation from the novel". It was held in a largish old stone church, which, acoustically, was a terrific venue.
The book chronicles a religious sect that arose when our current society's arrangements were breaking down, and she wrote a series of "hymns" as belonging to that sect. (She wrote them because songs and singing are a common component of any any religious group.) These are rather entertaining because the theology they reflect is a mish-mash of bits of Christianity, some biology, some other branches of science, so the lyrics are a blend of religion and science. You can actually imagine them being sung in earnest even though they're almost funny. And at the performance they were. Sung in earnest. By the church's own choir with musical arrangements specifically written for these hymns.
Margaret Atwood read bits of the outline of the story and three actors read/played the three main character's parts from the book. It was the most original book launch/reading I've ever been to.
And! As the result of an accident of seating, I was first in line to have my book signed by the charming Ms. A. Hah! She laughs at her own jokes, has the blackest sense of humour, and is simply a treat.
The Dalai Lama. Yes, the security was incredible, we were told to arrive two hours before the event, parking was madness, and it was held at a large venue where most purses weren't allowed. After standing in line for forty or so minutes, outside, in the cold wind, a lot of women were turned away at the door to put their purses in their cars. We were lucky enough to meet such a hapless soul on our way walking to the event, and so went back, dropped off our purses, and brought, basically, a wallet with us.
There were almost 20,000 people in attendance. There were a number of presentations, preceding the Dalai Lama, by local school children, and aboriginal peoples, and a Tibetan musical group and dancers. Listening to him speak was like listening to your grandfather share his ideas about living a comfortable, sane life.
There was a Tibetan white silk scarf on the back of every seat of the venue www.tibet.com/buddhism/katas.html and there was something impressive about the sight of that many people all wearing the scarf draped around their necks.
He spoke in English, on his own. His English was really good, if heavily accented. It took a bit to get the hang of it. He had an interpreter with him, but that fellow was there for when he got stuck on a word. He'd lean over and say the word in his own language to the interpreter and the fellow would give him the English word he was looking for. So we got to listen to him. And he's funny. He's a cheerful fellow with a spontaneous sense of humour.
He didn't say anything I didn't already know or believe, but he's like an historical figure. I don't know that I'll ever have the opportunity again to see him speak. It was well worth the effort.
There was some mayhem at the beginning because I arrived in Calgary to an hysterical friend who'd left everyone's (save mine) tickets to the Dalai Lama event at the office. (I knew I should have just brought them myself.) (I had my own with me.) We got that squared away, though, with only moments to spare for that evening's events.
Bean travelled well. She's a trooper. She got loads of attention, which she's always a fan of. I think she did okay. She's currently completely unconscious on top of her scratching post. That was a lot of activity for her. Although, she doesn't miss a beat in her routines. I could set my watch by her. She woke me at precisely 6:50 a.m. this morning for breakfast, as she does every morning. And it was an action-packed night for everyone involved. I don't think we got much sleep at all. At least Bean was willing to keep my friend company when she woke in the middle of the night and couldn't back to sleep and so logged onto the computer to goof off. Bean looked after her.
I've got to sleep now. I have work tomorrow and anyone who's familiar with hell and handbaskets would know that I could ill afford to take the past two days off.
I remember reading some time ago that Atwood was not happy that Handmaiden's Tale was considered science fiction. I think she called is something like speculative fiction (not sure that is right, but you get the idea).
Get some rest - all that work will be waiting for you !
I appreciate people who are civil, whether they mean it or not. Be civil. Do not cherish your opinion over my feelings. There's a vanity to candor that isn't really worth it ~ Richard Greenberg
Yes, A Handmaid's Tale and Oryx and Crake get called science fiction when, in fact, they're speculative fiction. (I don't know who coined that phrase.) And I agree with her. Science fiction is Isaac Asimov and space ships and little green aliens landing on Earth or being discovered on far away planets. Those two works of hers (and now her new one also that takes place contemporaneously with Oryx and Crake) are along the lines of Orwell's 1984, which has also been called science fiction, when it's not.
They speculate. Examine current conditions in science, politics, economics, and whatnot and extrapolate outwards of a trajectory we could potentially take if we don't pay sufficient attention. They're interesting social looks at where we are now, cautionary tales about what we are doing, and all wrapped up in stellar prose.
She's my version of a rock star. ;D
I've been flying around to field offices and flitting off here and there lately. I'm tired. I think I'm getting too old for this stuff. (Not doing it, I just need breaks after doing them to get sleep.)