The wacky factor

I was in the middle of Margaret Atwood’s MaddAddam last week when I went to see the Douglas Coupland exhibit at the art gallery. Now, I know that Margaret Atwood and Douglas Coupland are rather different. You would never mistake the work of one for that of the other. But I couldn’t help but notice a few similarities.

They are both students of the Canadian identity.

The are both experts at digging into the scary parts of our present and taking those parts just one step further. Not a hundred steps further, into Isaac Asimov territory, but one step — which is a much more chilling thing.

They were both recognized early in their careers for their mix of insight and general wackiness. And, thus encouraged, both have continued to grow more cutting and more quirky.

If you combine these three things, what do they say about us, the Canadian readership/audience that has given these two such iconic status? Obviously, we value smarts. We’re willing to gaze (okay, at least glance) into the dark side. But we also have a well-honed appreciation for the wacky.

Would you agree?

Getting our culture on

We’ve been going culture crazy around here. In true Kyi style, of course, which means we’ve included an opening-day trip to Guardians of the Galaxy.

But let’s pretend I didn’t admit that, and move on to the high-brow events…

The kids and I went on a backstage tour of the Orpheum, my longtime favourite place, hosted by The BC Entertainment Hall of Fame.

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It was fabulous. We tromped above the dome to see the cables, snuck below the seats to see the old-fashioned air conditioning system, and explored everything in between. We learned about the inside jokes painted on the ceiling, the cost-saving architectural plans of the owner (a small entrance on expensive Granville Street, then stairs to lead audiences across the alley to the main hall on less-expensive Seymour), and the crazy media stunts of the first manager. We even got to touch the 1920s silent-movie organ and hear the buttons for damsel-in-distress sound effects — train engine and whistle, of course. The tour was only open to kids over twelve, but the monkeys used their angelic faces and were allowed to tag along. Both of them loved the dome best of all.

Monkey Girl and I then headed out to see Love’s Labour’s Lost, as performed by Carousel Theatre’s Teen Shakespeare Program. The production was outside on Granville Island, so it was like getting a miniature, free version of Bard on the Beach.

I explained to Monkey Girl the trick about Shakespeare plays — pretend you understand what’s happening for the first ten minutes, and then gradually you’ll discover that you do understand. It seemed to work. She even knew there was trouble coming the moment the messenger was handed two identical envelopes. “Mommy, he’s going to switch the love letters!”

Finally, Min and I and our friends Steve and Rebecca snuck away from all of our kids and headed to the Vancouver Art Gallery for a look inside Douglas Coupland’s twisted brain. As certified Gen-Xers, we found plenty to marvel at and exclaim over. And we spent a fair amount of time wondering exactly what Douglas Coupland’s garage looked like. That man has collected a LOT of stuff.

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I have plenty more thoughts on the exhibit, to come in a later post. In the meantime, if you’d like to see Rebecca’s gum, it’s a white piece just about the goatee on Douglas’s left side.