Autumnal Anticipation

Gardenish

We’ve had the first big rain of autumn here in Vancouver and though it seems we’re going to have at least a week’s reprieve, it’s got me thinking about hunkering down with cups of tea and bowls of soup. It also means there will be less outdoors and more books, music, and video to explore, until springtime rouses us.

So, my question to you is what are you looking forward to this fall and winter? Is it the big blockbusters like the latest installments of the Hunger Games and the Hobbit? Or are you itching to get your hands on books like Sarah Waters’ latest?

Here are some of the things I’m curious about this fall:

Film

Jimi: All Is By My Side promises to be more than the usual blockbuster biopic.

Dear White People is a satire that challenges persistent stereotypes.

Rosewater is Jon Stewart’s directorial debut and already getting good reviews.

The Imitation Game – Benedict Cumberbatch as a genius brutally betrayed by his country.

Wild features Reese Witherspoon as Cheryl Strayed and Amy Adams stars as a wronged artist in Big Eyes – a feminist double shot for the end of the year.

Finally, there’s Into the Woods – can Rob Marshall do Stephen Sondheim justice?

Television

Because it’s an Amazon production, I’m not sure when I’ll get the chance to see it, but Transparent looks like it could be a winner.

This is the year of comic book overload on the small screen – my pick is Agent Carter, for some much needed female presence, even though it’s not due to appear until 2015.

What’s with all the 2015 in my fall television picks? I guess there isn’t much that moves me, so let the countdown to Downton Abbey begin.

Of course, there’s The Walking Dead. I don’t care for horror much, but the writing on this show has made it one of my favourites.

Music (brought to you by Kevin)

Look for mandolin master Chris Thile and bassist Edgar Meyer’s new release, Bass & Mandolin, on September 9th.

That’s the same date as Ryan Adams releases his first album in three years. Until then, you can listen to it here.

Ólafur Arnalds gave a charming performance in Vancouver a few months back and we’re looking forward to a new release from his project with Janus Rasmussen, Kiasmos. And his label-mate Douglas Dare has a new EP coming out on September 22nd. And in case you hadn’t guessed we’re talking about Kevin’s favourite label here, there’s another Erased Tapes release worth checking out coming from A Winged Victory For The Sullen.

Books

Love Enough by Dionne Brand promises to be beautiful and heartbreaking by turns.

Eula Biss’ On Immunity: An Innoculation is a much-needed and wide-ranging exploration into the distrust of what were once thought of as revolutionary life-saving medical breakthroughs.

Vikram Chandra’s Geek Sublime: The Beauty of Code, the Code of Beauty sounds like the kind of peripatetic exploration of ideas I love.

Kathleen Winter travels Franklin’s path in Boundless: Tracing Land and Dream in a New Northwest Passage.

Those are just a few of this fall’s literary offerings. I suspect that I’m going to run out of holds at the library, working my way through the many I want to read.

Theatre

There’s too much to choose from at the Fringe Festival, which runs from September 4th to 14th this year, so I’ll just send you to their site.

2nd Story: Blood Alley is as much experience as performance.

The Wonderheads’ Grim & Fischer was a highlight for us last year and their new production, Loon, sounds just as good.

Last year’s inaugural East Van Panto was a huge hit. This year they tackle Cinderella and I’m guessing it will be the holidays’ hottest ticket.

I’m hoping I’ve whet your appetite for more exploration. After all, there’s visual arts, dance, museum exhibitions, seminars and lectures, workshops and guided tours – much more than I can detail here.

Now it’s your turn: What have I missed and what are the experiential gems coming up where you live?

Hard copy, please

I’ve been thinking about the word fugitive, lately. Not the Dr. Richard Kimble variety, but fugitive in the fine arts sense. Sometimes these effects are unintentional. Works that don’t use lightfast pigments can change colour or fade completely, while poorly produced paper can suffer damage even from a reader’s breath. Of course, sometimes the artist’s purpose is to create something temporary, as in Richard Long‘s environmental sculptures. What’s been bringing the word to mind lately, though, is the thought that we’re moving into a fugitive age, spurred by the digitization of cultural production.

Call me a Luddite, but I don’t believe that having music, books, film and television available for download or streaming can take the place of record stores, bookstores and video stores. The Amazon glitch that caused them to delete all gay and lesbian titles is an example of why I’m cautious. A more important consideration for me is my reliance on the idiosyncracies of the people who staff brick and mortar stores. Their recommendations and conversation can lead to amazing discoveries. But regardless of my objections, the tide is turning.

On May 5th, the owners of Videomatica, possibly the best video store in Canada, announced that they will be closing by the end of the summer. They’ve probably found a home for their massive collection, but it’s still a loss to our community. Don’t take my word for it, though, when you can read this eloquent piece by Darren of my local video store, Black Dog.

Not even libraries are reliable repositories for cultural production any more, as Nicholson Baker raged over in his book Double Fold. The deaccessioning craze that’s taken hold of libraries seems to be in the same vein as the narrowing of focus found in big box bookstores and online video providers. When most people want only a small portion of the newest productions, what incentive is there to carry the old, the obscure and the rare?

I’m going to continue to support the independent stores as much as I can, for as long as they last. I don’t want to think about a world in which I can’t spend time in my favourite shops, browsing through stacks of books, thumbing through cds and records, or scanning the back of dvd cases.

And that’s Ms. Luddite, to you.