Thursday, November 18, 2010

There is a town in south Ontario ...

1) Visited Sleuth of Baker Street to hear Hilary Davidson read from The Damage Done and, while browsing, found myself at nose level with a novel called Down by the River. Neil Young has a more powerful presence in Toronto than I thought.

You know those readings where three people show up, and one works for the store and another wandered in by mistake? This was not one of them. Davidson grew up in Toronto and, I think, worked here as well. To judge from the evening's attendance, she is much loved; the place was packed.

2) Saw a copy of Following the Detectives: Real Locations in Crime Fiction on display, the first time I'd seen my own work on sale in a bookshop. This was very cool. And the book makes an ideal holiday gift!

3) Overheard a customer refer to "someone who likes to read x, y and zed." It is a pleasure to be in a country that knows what the last letter of the alphabet is. (Canadians also know that an entrée is a small course preceding the main dish.)

4) Bought Peter Temple's An Iron Rose off a rack labelled with disarming honesty "Expensive British Imports." Would any American shop or any chain store have been that straightforward? Nah.

5) Got up in the middle of the night at my brother's house, took one step down from the guest room, and turned right toward the bathroom. Only the guest room has two steps, so I took a header onto the living-room floor, landed on my right knee, and only the saving grace of a benevolent god prevented the big-screen TV from shattering into a million pieces. The knee was a little tender today, but Nephew Beyond Borders #2, asleep on the couch, slumbered right through the ordeal of his precipitating uncle.

© Peter Rozovsky 2010

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41 Comments:

Blogger Cullen Gallagher said...

This sounds like a hell of a weekend.

November 18, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Yep, taking the header was almost worth it just for the story.

Incidentally, anyone else reading this should know that Cullen Gallagher provided thorough, readable illustrated round-ups of Noircon 2010 at http://www.pulpserenade.com/2010/11/noircon-pictures.html and elsewhere on his Pulp Serenade site.

November 18, 2010  
Blogger Uriah Robinson said...

Peter, I can assure you landing on your right knee is not a good idea. Mine fractured into several pieces after my fall, but you are a much younger man with stronger bones. ;o)

November 18, 2010  
Blogger Sean Patrick Reardon said...

Nice report. Going to check out Cullen's site and thanks for the link. Terrible about the knee, but your telling of how it happened, did make me laugh, sorry. Congrats on seeing your own writing on display.

November 18, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Uriah, we must have softer floors in Canada.

November 18, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Sean, no offense taken. I played this knee thing for laughs.

Sleuth of Baker Street stocks lots of British imports, so I figured there was a good chance Following the Detectives would be there.

November 18, 2010  
Anonymous adrian said...

Peter

I went to the cinema yesterday to watch (a surprisingly cliche filled and lame) The American with your favourite thesp George Clooney (dont worry he didnt mug for the camera once) when I noticed an add for Chaplins Without Borders

http://www.chaplainswithoutborders.org/

who come to your office or wherever if you're having a spiritual crisis.

Two things occured to me: first this is bloody hilarious and second your translation of Sans Frontiers as Beyond Borders rather than without borders is a clever piece of alliteration.

November 18, 2010  
Anonymous Elisabeth said...

Read Peter Temple's An Iron Rose last month. Absolutely loved it. As much as The Broken Shore and certainly more than Truth which, frankly, had too many Hollywood movie cliches for my taste. Esp. the climax and ending.

Again, I think Temple's non-Jack Irish novels are really in another class by themselves.

In AIR, Temple does for metalworking/blacksmithing what he did/does for woodworking/cabinetmaking in the Irish novels.

Put some ice on that knee, kiddo!

November 18, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Adrian, Chaplins Without Borders sounds like a refuge for those suffering a surfeit of Keaton/

November 18, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Elisabeth, I've noticed the attention Temple pays to blacksmithing in the opening chapters. I can practically feel the heat.

I don't need any ice on the knee, though I might if I intended to drop to that knee and deliver a wide, slow river of humid Victorian schmaltz to a some blushing woman of open expression, fair of form, whose delicate countenance yet revealed undicovered reserves of character and intelligence -- oodles of the stuff.

November 18, 2010  
Anonymous Elisabeth said...

If one is suffering from s surfeit of Keaton, may I recommend Harold Lloyd? We watched Safety Last, 1923, for about the 4th time last night on TCM and laughed like we didn't during Chaplin's The Pilgrim, also 1923, which, frankly, we fast-forwarded through (taped earlier).

Yes, Chaplin's film is neither a short nor a feature-length film (40 min.) as is Safety Last but the attempt to wring every laugh out of sight gags seems very early 1910s vs. Lloyd's perfect comic timing which is right up there with Keaton's most of the time. The fact that much of Chaplin's humor uses physical violence--in The Pilgrim a too-long scene with a bratty kid punching Chaplin and another hapless actor--also seems out of touch with modern sensibilities.

This is to take nothing away from Chaplin's The Great Dictator and Limelight, both very great films.

November 18, 2010  
Anonymous Elisabeth said...

Peter, if you "drop to that knee and deliver a wide, slow river of humid Victorian schmaltz to a some blushing woman of open expression, fair of form, whose delicate countenance yet revealed undiscovered reserves of character and intelligence" I guarantee that she will put that ice on your knee herself! AND ask if you want a cup of restorative tea, a biscuit or two, a comfortable pillow to elevate said knee, etc. etc.

Keep it up--your Victorian pastiches are pretty good.

November 18, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Elisabeth, my example was purely hypothetical. I don't think anyone could suffer from a surfeit of (good) Keaton.

I know little of Lloyd's work, but it never grabbed me immediately, the way The General or Steamboat Bill Jr. or Seven Chances do.

November 18, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Adrian, Detectives Beyond Borders was an effort to distinguish myself from those do-gooding docs. The cleverness is incidental -- or instinctive. I think some other organization used Beyond in its name, too.

November 18, 2010  
Blogger adrian mckinty said...

Peter

I must call them up and say I'm feeling a bit suicidal ask if they can do a quick Harold Lloyd clock routine.

November 18, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

A biscuit that promised so much more ... a flame in my heart, an ice pack on my knee

November 18, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

The Chaplins Without Borders suicide prevention hotline will do an adorable dance with spoons and forks to cheer you up.

November 18, 2010  
Anonymous David said...

Do these chaplains include rabbis? If so, will they visit you in Gaza?

November 18, 2010  
Blogger seana said...

Bill Cosby is coming to town at the end of the month to do a gig, and did an advance interview with one of the local free papers. I mention it, because he happened to have a Buster Keaton story:

“A looooong time ago,” the raconteur offers, “about 44 years ago, a woman came to me and said, ‘Buster Keaton would love to meet you.’ Now, let me tell you something, Mr. Santa Cruz. Shucks. I called my mother.” Cosby recalls watching The Buster Keaton Show religiously: “I don’t know why people describe things when they’re watching something at home, and they say the same thing about comedy: that they fell off the sofa. I don’t understand why they fell off the sofa. But I fell off the sofa.”

When Cosby and his wife Camille entered the late Buster Keaton’s house, they found the comic legend seated at his card table, playing double solitaire. “He never got up; he never came over; we never shook hands,” Cosby recalls. “I looked at him, and somebody said, ‘Buster, Bill is here.’ And he’s lookin’ at the cards. So obviously, in retrospect, Buster’s very, very shy. I said, ‘How are you, Buster?’ and he said, ‘I’m just fine, Bill.’ And he kept playin’ the cards. It was like one of his silent films, only worse! And I didn’t have any real questions. I’m scared, too! I did not feel that he was arrogant; I did not feel that he was rude; I just felt, ‘Hey, man, Buster is playin’ double solitaire, and I am not interrupting that. I’m just happy I can go the rest of my life tellin’ people, “You know, Buster Keaton asked me to come to his house.”

November 18, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Hmm, if that story is anywhere close to the truth, Buster Keaton may have been an eccentric, Ms. Santa Cruz.

November 18, 2010  
Blogger seana said...

I think it's probably largely true, simply apart from the fact of the meeting, it's not really very exciting. I mean, I think Bill Cosby could make up something better than that.

November 18, 2010  
Anonymous Elisabeth said...

Perhaps Keaton was reenacting his cameo in Sunset Boulevard, where he sat playing cards ("Pass, pass") with Gloria Swanson, Anna Q. Nilsson, and H. B. Warner. I think I've read that Keaton was playing cards the night he died. He was pretty ravaged by alcoholism so may not have been entirely aware of Cosby's presence.

November 18, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Seana, I wonder when Bill Cosby talked to Mr. Santa Cruz; Buster Keaton died a little more than 44 1/2 years ago, in February 1966.

There's no special reason not to believe Bill Cosby, just the residual mistrust of any anecdote that seems so perfect.

November 18, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Mmm, could Cosby have been claiming to have met Keaton the night he died, perhaps hoping the interviewer would notice?

November 18, 2010  
Anonymous kathy d. said...

Sympathy on the knee.

I've fallen and broken bones, so take care about falls, especially related to stairs. One can literally see stars after a header off stairs!

So what other Canadian authors and books have been discovered?

November 18, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Kathy, I think the Canadian discoveries were all in the comments to the post previous to this one. I had not heard of one or two of the authors Craig Sisterson mentioned.

November 18, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Thanks on the knee, but happily, neither sympathy nor ice ie needed.

November 18, 2010  
Blogger The Celtic Kagemusha said...

Elisabeth,
Given your usual good taste, - 'Chinatown' excepted, of course, - I take it you also love Lloyd's 'The Kid Brother'
(probably my favourite of his features).
And anybody who doesn't care for Chaplin check out his short 'The Immigrant' and then see do you still not care for him
(my fave Chaplin feature is 'City Lights').

Peter, 'legeepo' is the word verification: I take it this was the affliction you suffered from during your noctural ramblings, chez frère?

November 18, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

I said neither eep nor oh. My only thought as I fell was for the safety of the television.

I'm not sure anyone doesn't care for Chaplin as much as viewers feel compelled to declare themselves members of either the Chaplin or the Keaton camp.

November 18, 2010  
Blogger seana said...

Yeah, it sounds like the Coz caught old Buster pretty near the end. I still kind of wonder why or how Keaton asked to meet him.

November 19, 2010  
Anonymous Elisabeth said...

TCK, I hope my comments did not make me sound like I don't care for Chaplin. I think much of his output is very good. It's just that, when introducing younger newcomers to silent film I never start with Chaplin. The Little Tramp costume, the Hitlerian mustache, etc. can be offputting to people unfamiliar with these conventions. Keaton's deadpan expression and his incredible athleticism seem to capture young viewers. And, as I said, the pushing, shoving, kicking, punching that was often in Chaplin and earlier slapstick comedies is offputting to me. Sort of like the Three Stooges--most men laugh their butts off while women roll their eyes. As the Harold Lloyd website notes: Lloyd "was a product of the film industry. His comedy wasn't imported from Vaudeville or the British Music Hall like his contemporaries, Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton." I think this also makes his films more accessible to modern viewers.

I'm not an either-or viewer when it comes to Chaplin and Keaton. And I won't drift too far off and start rambling about other silent comedians that I also like. There were many more than the trinity of Chaplin, Keaton, and Lloyd, of course.

November 19, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Cosby would already have been known for his role in "I Spy." Still, I'd look in the index of a good Keaton biography if I wanted to verify any Cosby meeting.

November 19, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Elisabeth, was Keaton's athleticism really a vaudeville or music-hall thing?

Years ago, I attended a few screenings at a Keaton/Chaplin/Lloyd/Harry Langdon festival. Keaton came out on top then, too.

November 19, 2010  
Anonymous Elisabeth said...

"was Keaton's athleticism really a vaudeville...thing?" Yes, he was in a family act in vaudeville when a very young child and that's where he got training in all kinds gymnastic stunts and comedic timing. His athleticism was also a comic foil in some of his shorts with Fatty Arbuckle.

November 19, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Now that you mention it, I may have read about Keaton's family vaudeville bacground. But his deadpan was marvelously suited to film.

November 19, 2010  
Blogger seana said...

Also probably for his stand up. I'm sure the records were out because we listened to them over and over again in the sixties. I just looked it up to make sure and discovered that he went to Temple, and bartended in a club called The Cellar in Philadelphia. Any historical remnant of that left?

November 19, 2010  
Anonymous Elisabeth said...

His deadpan expression was part of his vaudeville "persona," too. No matter what tumbles and spills he would take, that expression remained in place. But, yes, perfectly suited for film even more than live theater; that expression just couldn't get as many laughs from the 35th row in live theater as it could from the 35th row in a movie theater.

November 19, 2010  
Blogger The Celtic Kagemusha said...

Elisabeth,
I never fully appreciated Keaton until I first saw his 'Sherlock Jnr', about 20 years ago; until then I'd only seen 'The General' and a couple of his other features'
But then UK Channel Four started to screen a whole bunch of his shorts, and I marvelled at his technical invention, quite apart from his comic talents.
Chaplin's shorts, and to a lesser extent Looyod's were part of my youngest boyhood memories.

But if you haven't seen Lloyd's 'The Kid Brother' I would recommend it highly.


'ingslymp'?
a royal version of 'gymslip'
an expletive uttered as one slips on a banana?
Who comes up with these words, anyhow?

November 19, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Seana, I didn't know when Bill Cosby's stand-up career started or when he becamse a star.

There is no remnant of The Cellar, as far as I know, but Cosby is a ubiquitous presence in news stories and publicity materials about Temple. He's a modern-day Ben Franklin when it comes to figures associated with Philadelphia.

November 19, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Elisabeth, that's just what I was thinking, that film can more fully exploit a great face than theater can.

November 19, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

TCK, ingslymp could also be some sinister Orwellian abbreviation. Who comes up with these words? A mischievous intelligence, or at least a computer program that is set up to take some consideration of the comment's content.

I suppose Keaton may appeal a bit more to modern sensibilities than does Chaplin because of his lack of sentimentality.

November 19, 2010  

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