Sunday, August 28, 2016

vive Edmonton

Forty-two. SF fans know that as the answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe, and Everything. It's also the number of years since I was last in Alberta. But today I have returned, and ventured as far north as Edmonton, which I had never visited at all. It had attracted me as the provincial capital, and indeed I got to see the Legislative Assembly building, what in the US would be the state capitol, an impressive edifice with an excellent and enthusiastic guide. I also found, outside of town, a historic oil well that has been turned into an oil drilling museum, full of miscellaneous technical bricabrack, and with an old drilling rig outside that you can actually climb up on, which was neat.

But Edmonton is more than that. It is a city lost in and forgotten by time. In the Strathcona district, once a separate city and now where all the interesting shops and restaurants are, there are within five blocks no fewer than three large and thriving used book stores. Once no more than you'd expect in any large city, today it is a glorious atavism. And in one of those stores I found a stash of old SF paperbacks of the kind also forgotten by time. So now I have ... well, tell you later.

For an occupation in the evening, I'd picked up a ticket for a small local theatrical company's production held over from the previous week's Edmonton Fringe Festival. It was a local playwright's perennially locally popular one-act musical (jazz trio accompaniment) about two men, frustrated songwriters in 1930s New York, who meet the women of their dreams and have a big production number over a Chinese takeout dinner. It was amusing enough, and well acted, but the highlight was inadvertent. One of the actors had fractured her foot in overenthusiastic performance last week, and came on tonight on crutches, doing her big dance number while seated in a chair, which really had to be seen to be believed. One of the more distinctive theatrical highlights of my experience.

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