Sunday, December 30, 2007

Ring in 2008

art by Jan Neal
In Four Steps to Wisdom:
You don't have to do anything to acquire happiness. The great Meister Eckhart said very beautifully, "God is not attained by a process of addition to anything in the soul, but by a process of subtraction." You don't do anything to be free, you drop something. Then you're free.
Jan quoting Anthony de Mello quoting Meister Eckhart

" "

And you, liar, teller of tall tales: you trample all the Lord's commandments underfoot, you murder, steal, commit adultery, and afterward break into tears, beat your breast, take down your guitar and turn the sin into a song. Shrewd devil, you know very well that God pardons singers no matter what they do, because he can simply die for a song....

~The Last Temptation of Christ,
Nikos Kaztantazkis

For the Youngsters

Yellow by Coldplay

Fundamentalist Trials

George of The Hour (CBC trying to be hip) recently interviewed AJ Jacobs, a New Yorker who spent a year living according to the tenets of the Bible. While I have often questioned fundamentalists on the convenient compromises they make to suit their lives while claiming to live biblically, I loved hearing about the Jewish embodiment of this quandry. Of particular note was the anecdote about him stoning an adulterer. You gotta love this guy's tenacity. And his wife's for that matter: he was not allowed to sit on a chair sat upon by his wife while she was 'unclean', so she went around the apartment and defiled every last one of them! Ah, the trials of living like our forefathers.... But on a more serious note, his book does address questions about the development of one's prayer life, and the issue of 'cafeteria religion'--picking and choosing what suits us in our faith.
You may know him from his articles and other adventures such as reading all 44 million words of the Encyclopedia Britannica. Here is an excerpt from his website : 'His father is a lawyer who holds the world record for the most footnotes in a law review article (4,824). His wife works for a highbrow scavenger hunt called Watson Adventures. He lives in New York. He wonders if he fooled anyone with this third-person thing, or if everyone knows that he wrote this bio himself.'

Hero of the Week

Ok, so it's not weekly. But I would like to sing the praises of a gentleman who has done me favours and who serves the Christian art scene in Canada with unrelenting passion, energy and support: the very humble John Franklin, executive director of Imago. This organization provides financial, logistical and promotional support to Christian creators of the performing and visual arts. I love it because I constantly find new good Christ-centred art through them, particularly at their Imago Evenings. Imago busts the myth of 'good' and 'Christian art' being oxymoronic terms. And John's quarterly newsletter is a source of theological reflection on new works and issues in art, as well as book reviews, calls for artists and show announcements. To support this very worthy organization, go to their website and use the contact us link at the bottom; I guarantee you your donation will be VERY well used.

Next Jazz Vespers

january 6th is the next jazz vespers at ccdp (1570 yonge st) at 4:30pm. the canadian jazz quartet plays a tribute to milt jackson. come join me in chilling in the pew.

Upcoming Movie Recoms

This year will see recoms for more offbeat, artsy and inde movies. I have a wonderful source, and a Board that always brings new ideas for me to try. So ck back for the popcorn and spilled coke ratings. I recently saw The Adventures of Baron Munchausen (1988, Terry Gilliam) and wondered how I managed to miss yet another interesting flick. It is completely insane. Note that this does not mean perfect; I am not saying it is the best movie on the planet, but I am always appreciative of artists willing to at least do what they need to do, and in the process not bore me. If you want to ck out the cultness of it, go rent it. I don't think you'll ask me for your money back.

Gross Out for the Kids

Gags for the adults, guffaws for the kids. Here is a link to a recipe that is usually for Hallowe'en, but it is where I am metaphorically dumping 2007. This coming year is looking good, however....

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Advent IV

Advent IV

On the Cusp of Christmas

This fourth Sunday of Advent we light all the candles of the wreath and mark Love incarnate, birthed by Mary.

O Wisdom, holy Word of God, Jesus Christ, all things are in your hands, come and show us the way to salvation.

This is my favourite season of the year: it's about reflection, intensity and delayed gratification. I almost find Christmas too much. It goes against my asceticism, and the peace of Advent is lost. Ah well, I can start counting the days til the beginning of Lent...

And my last plug for Buy Nothing Christmas:

Back in the Christmas season....

We Will Rock You, the musical

I was recently treated to We Will Rock You, the musical by Queen and Ben Elton. Guess I am stunned, coz I misunderstood what the show was; I thought it was a tribute band. However, I was quickly corrected but then relieved of new doubts. It is actually a storyline that initially is questionable, but you are quickly sucked into the 'world' therein and get into it. While the singing and choreography is good, I would say the writing is the most fun--very clever and very topical. There was one moment, however, where a character gets the equivalent of tasing and you could cut the tension in the hall with a knife. We attended a night with the understudies who were actually better than the main cast members, according to someone who went twice: Breanne Arrigo was endearingly feisty as Scaramouche, and Jewelle Blackman as Killer Queen was reminiscent of Tina Turner. The background multimedia visuals were absolutely fantastic, perhaps my favourite part of the show. There was a poignant nod to Freddie Mercury, a too-short video clip of Queen and tons of good-natured fun-poking at the group. Just completely good fun from start to finish: if you like Queen, you absolutely MUST go see this. You will indeed be rocked. (Even I, with my usual wasp-y reservation, let loose, so you know it must be good.)


If you want a giggle, check out this one of several videos of prison inmates in the Philippines in which they dance en masse to popular music--a new type of rehab for Corrections Canada to try??? I really don't get this and that's what fascinates me. This one is to Queen's Radio Ga Ga . There's also a really weird version of (what else) Thriller. Beats carving shanks, I guess.

from "The Nativity of our Lord"

Then tear the sky apart with light

And with your news the world endow.

Proclaim the birth of Christ and peace,

That fear and death and sorrow cease:

Sing peace, sing gift of peace!

~Carl Schalk

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Welcome to Advent III

We're almost there! It's the third Sunday of Advent, often known and celebrated as Gaudete Sunday, wherein we light the pink candle. Joy is the theme and we read about the pronouncement of Jesus by John the Baptist as the Lamb of God (John 1: 19-34).

O Key of David, Jesus Christ, the gates of heaven open at your command; come and show us the way to salvation.

And I offer this advice, with personal endorsement:

Flying Bow

My best discovery this week was Trevor Dick and the 5th String Blvd Band; our mc told us, as he introduced them, to fasten our seat belts, and he was right! I was not convinced that I would be enamoured of yet more versions of Christmas carols, but this guy rocks. He had great audience rapport too. He reminded me of a cross between Jean Luc Ponty and Oliver Schroer. I have to say I prefer the raucous carol disc over the more low key carols in his double cd, Glory and Peace, but he is a breath of fresh air. Laila Biali was a guest performer, so that was a treat as well. Check out some mp3 clips of Trevor's at and put those boring old Christmas cds you have away!

Sound Art

I generally have little time for Performance Art as a genre, but this week I had the opportunity to watch sound art unfold. I admit I was rather skeptical initially, but the work of the artist sold me on this medium. At a concert by Trevor Dick, as mentioned above, Tina Newlove created a painting which, had I been able, I would have bought. You can see her stuff on her website and also follow the link there to her myspace site. I quite like her urban crowd stuff. One of the works, City Crowd, reminded me of Klimt. If you ever have the chance to watch her, stick around to the end. It's worth it.

Movie Night Recoms

I was watching Marie Antoinette recently, thinking 'This soundtrack reminds me of the one in Lost in Translation'; sure enough (I had popped the dvd in without much study), it was another Sofia Coppola film (2006). Definitely not for my mother's crowd; she would have a fit at what had be "done" to this quirky period piece. It had been recommended to me precisely because its focus was the visuals rather than plot. Like Translation (2003), Coppola used the technique of dampened audio, which has various effects on the audience. Also lost to the traditionalists would be the use of current American accents and vernacular language, mixed in with the sensibilities and expression of the time. A completely cool film. But I love anything different; there is no room or time for boredom. Half a box of popcorn to my next recom, 49Up (2006), which I used in my continued study of the series in my classes. My students and I felt there had not been substantial change from 42Up, so while it was a wonderful film in and of itself, the series does seem to be lacking momentum. What was so eagerly awaited seemed a bit flat. I wonder if director Michael Apted will pursue this longitudinal study and how many of the participants will continue with the project. So, definitely worth watching for its sociological importance, but don't expect the shake ups encountered between, for example, 35Up and 42Up. I plan to watch the director's interview to hear his views.

Kids' Stuff

Two things for kids this week:
I was referred to a group called the Go Fish Guys, and they have some worthy music for children that goes beyond the usual potty-training and monsters subjects. You can check out various things on their site at but one song I liked was It's About the Cross which you can find on their index of sample mp3 clips along with other Christmas songs: . I like the fact that they don't dumb things down for kids.
Also of note is a hot-off-the-press book (I was at a launch by the author) which I bought as a Christmas present for certain young people I know (can't ruin the surprise here): Jim's Grandiose Big Bible Picture Book. What is different about this one is that it is witty (yay! something unboring about the Bible for kids!) and it has a pretty cool, age-appropriate key at the back about symbols and references. A good stepping stone for the 8-12 age group in terms of Bible acquisitions. Good fun. You can find out more about Jim Paterson's book and order it via or .

Another Kind of Good News

As we enter the season of Good News, it is fitting that I found this website: on which only positive new stories are found. Now many will counsel you not to take a media fast, especially as Christians, because we should not turn a blind eye to suffering and should continually pray for those who need it. I believe that is true. However, if one must read the regular news (which is 99% bad), I think it is balanced to look at this good news source. I love it.

Blogger's--not My--Bad

Just noticed that Blogger has inserted automatically a new Video Bar which usurped my YouTube Beauts. Somehow, some weird video was attached and as yet I have been unable to remove it from the html. Please ignore that one ('sweet rose' something or other) and do not think that it has any connection to me. Thank you!

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Welcome To Advent II !

Today we light the second (and first) candle of Advent. This candle represents Peace, and the scriptures and focus today are about the prophets' foretelling of the Messiah's coming.

O King of all nations, Jesus Christ, only joy of every heart, come and save your people.

If you can handle a bit of tongue-in-cheek about Jesus, but which is really about what he would say about our consumerism, check out Jesus Shops for Sandals:
There is some hoopla about a line in it about Jesus not knowing what to pray, but I would suggest that some people need to relax. Nevertheless, check out the feedback at Then, join me in this
Advent Prayer on Consumerism
Slow us down, O Lord, this Advent, So we may understand the darkness we are in, The darkness of fear that comes with wanting more, And the fear of having less. Grant us the light of transformation, As we wait for your true abundance— The love of the Incarnation, A love that brings us true dignity and security, A love that embraces all, that enriches all, That calls us all to share justly and celebrate joyfully. (author unknown)

From Over the Pond

From blogger Dave Walker, some cartoons about Advent:

and this, which I tripped upon as soon as I had put up our lights:

Non-Christmasy News

CONTACT Photography Festival is sponsoring an exhibit of some of the Malcolmson Collection of 19th century photographs at Lennox Contemporary gallery. The show runs from Dec 14th through the 23rd (Th-Sun 12-5pm), 12 Ossington Ave. just north of Queen St. Call 416 924 7964 or for more info.

The Nativity

Last year saw the release of the film The Nativity. I would like to recommend the related book The Nativity Story: Contemplating Mary's Journey of Faith, edited by Rose Pacatte, FSP (Pauline Press, 2006). It is a collection of reflections on Mary by various women, one of whom is my best friend: Marily Elphick wrote the chapter entitled "Mary's Journey of Love". Don't just take my word for it--the book is presently being translated into Italian, with more translations sure to come. You can purchase it at Pauline Books in Toronto; email for info or go to

Christmas Specials on TV

I noted a glitch with the link to the CBC tv guide listings last week, so although it is corrected below, I am repeating the address here:

Concert Reminders

Sunday December 16th at 4:30, there are two options: The Festival of Light at St. Clement's church--carols, pageant and living nativity scene--or for those of us with grown up kids, head over to Jazz Vespers at Christ Church Deer Park ( where the Barlow Brass and Drums will present a Christmas Vespers. THEN, for even more fun, go to the Church of the Messiah (240 Avenue Rd, N of Bloor at Dupont) for a Christmas Concert and Show that will include jazz, gospel, rock, choral and celtic music, highland and step dancing, and carol sing-alongs! 7pm, freewill offering.And that's just the people I know! For more concert listings, see

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Prepare Ye the Way of the Lord!

Welcome to the first Sunday in Advent! You will notice that this image has purple and pink candles; that is because I am renegade and refuse to switch to the modernized blue and white and pink adaptation (apparently my preference was too Lenten; never mind that the purple is a symbol for royalty). So for you traditionalists, the first purple candle of the season signifies hope. Of course, the circular wreath represents God's completeness, the greenery reminds us of renewal of life. A prayer for the lighting of this first candle:
O Emmanuel, Jesus Christ, desire of every nation, Saviour of all peoples, come and dwell among us. Amen.
To kick start your advent season, why not use some cues? Play the soundtrack from Godspell, or the quintessential Christmas piece, A Ceremony of Carols by Benjamin Britten. Start an Advent devotional (see God With Us post on November 18th, below). A neat thing for the kids is to host a party where they get to make a Jesse Tree (see or do your own version); my kids didn't have birthdays en masse, so this was a chance for them to have a party with their friends. Try and get a permanent (not chocolate) advent calendar for your family; there are quilting and sewing patterns for them, or see the variety of store bought ones at Delay putting up your really Christmas-y decorations to mark this season. An advent calendar, Jesse tree and the wreath are simple ways to declare the season. Finally, start your Christmas baking and gift making now, so that you can enjoy Christmas when it comes. And save a tree and ditch the Christmas card madness.
Veni veni, Emmanuel
captivum solve Israel,
qui gemit in exsilio,
privatus Dei Filio.
Gaude! Gaude! Emmanuel,
nascetur pro te Israel!


Christmas Specials on TV

As a CBC brat, I bring you access to listings of old favourites this month only on Channel 6: there's a nice pdf of the month's Grinch/Charlie Brown/Muppets etc. specials at Don't miss the Vinyl Cafe's inevitable Dave and the Christmas Turkey story on the 18th! Remember to watch A Christmas Carol/Scrooge (the only acceptable one, with Alastair Sim), and please do yourself a favour and read The Polar Express to your (grand)children; like Jumanji, some things should stay on paper only.
~Buddy the Elf

Concert Recommendations

Okay, so I'm slightly biased in this post, since I have friends in and connections to these groups, but I can guarantee superlative musicianship! Due to the busy Christmas concert season, I am posting some two weeks in advance.

Saturday December 8th~dear I Furiosi help those with a blue Christmas with an irreverent look (as always) at loneliness: Solo includes guest percussionist Graham Hargrove. Calvin Presbyterian Church on Delisle (Yonge and St. Clair) 8pm (

Sunday December 9th~first at 3pm, Brother Heinrich's Christmas, a Christmas story with music by John Rutter, at St. Clement's Church, 59 Briar Hill Ave. ( Then after a skate and a bite to eat, head over to Blessed Sacrament Church (south of Yonge and Lawrence) for Aradia's Et Exultavit Christmas Concert, at 7:30pm (

The following week, you'll have to pick between church and church:
Sunday December 16th at 4:30, there are two options: The Festival of Light at St. Clement's church--carols, pageant and living nativity scene--or for those of us with grown up kids, head over to Jazz Vespers at Christ Church Deer Park ( where the Barlow Brass and Drums will present a Christmas Vespers. THEN, for even more fun, go to the Church of the Messiah (240 Avenue Rd, N of Bloor at Dupont) for a Christmas Concert and Show that will include jazz, gospel, rock, choral and celtic music, highland and step dancing, and carol sing-alongs! 7pm, freewill offering.
And that's just the people I know! For more concert listings, see

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Offered without Comment


Stir Up Sunday

Yes indeedy, it is 'Stir Up Sunday', an affectionate and quite colloquial name for the last Sunday of the Christian year or the Sunday before Advent begins. The term comes from the collect (meaning communal prayer for those gathered, accent on the 'coll') in the Anglican Book of Common Prayer:
Stir up, we beseech thee, O Lord, the wills of thy faithful people; that they, plenteously bringing forth the fruit of good works, may of thee be plenteously rewarded; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Thank you Thomas Cranmer! You can check out this and the OT and Gospel readings for today in the BCP on page 259-260.

What Exactly are we Stirring Up?

So now that you know what today is, you have to do the stirring up! Most families have their own tried and true recipes for plum pudding, but if you don't, you can find some suggested recipes and suggestions here: Actually, we try to avoid the gluttony of the holidays, so we no longer serve the plum pudding at Christmas dinner--usually later in the week or for New Year's. Coz we still love a bit of that terribly rich hard sauce!!! But if you really don't like the (in fact) plumless dessert, you can stir up your Christmas cake today. But you'll have to really douse it with booze to make the cut for Christmas. No matter what, do some stirring and keep that tradition going!

Christmas Windows

If you are trying to avoid that conspicuous consumption but still want a Christmas window outing, ck out this new competition: . Several stores in the downtown core have had their windows dressed by Ryerson students on a budget of $100! These will be judged on December 3rd, but in the meantime you can see them yourself (ck the website link for the pdf map) and/or vote online for your favourite. Excellent outing for the artsy fartsy type!

Carol Service

Next Sunday, December 2nd, is the first Sunday in Advent and the annual carol service at St. Clement's Anglican Church will take place at 4:30pm. Music will include Palestrina, Archer, Vann, McKie and Near. Freewill offering. 59 Briar Hill Ave, Toronto. Call 416 483 6664 ex 26 for more info or go to our website at

Buy Nothing Christmas

This may not be a new notion to those of us who have Buy Nothing Days most of the time, but I wholeheartedly promote the Buy Nothing Christmas movement. Not only because of its Christian sensibilities, but also because they invite people of all opinions to participate: you can go whole hog and really buy nothing, or you can use their varying degrees of suggestions to cut down on your Veblenian conspicuous consumption. It is a wonderful notion that is actually accessible, unlike a lot of the resolutions that will likely follow a week later. Ck out this great idea (which is not new) by going to their website at For each week of Advent, I will be highlighting one of their clever posters.

Opera at the Met

If you haven't jumped on the Metropolitan Opera Live broadcasts at your local cinema bandwagon, you should: you get top notch music, cast interviews at intermission, and other treats, all while munching down on your popcorn and smarties! We did this last year and got more tickets for this year. But caveat emptor--the lineups are long and start early. Just coz you have a ticket, doesn't mean you'll get a good seat, so go early to the movie theatre. Cineplex has added more venues due to the raging success of last year. Ck out this link to investigate what's on for 2007-2008:$Cineplex/1a0b9dfc-71bc-44f3-be62-4f42afd297f5/2007-09-20--Metropolitan_Opera_Live_in_High-Definition_Returns_to_the_Big_Screen--.pdf . [I believe the National Ballet is looking into this too, the ol' copycats.]

Sunday, November 18, 2007

My Favourite Ad

Day by day
Day by day
Oh Dear Lord
Three things I pray
To see thee more clearly
Love thee more dearly
Follow thee more nearly
Day by day

~Saint Richard of Chichester 1197-1253

Advent venit!

This week I will be attending the Toronto reception and book launch by one of my heroes, Kathleen Norris, author of The Cloister Walk and Amazing Grace. You can learn more about her contributions to a new book called God with Us: Rediscovering the Meaning of Christmas, which includes other authors such as Eugene Peterson (The Message). Her talk, Remembering, Waiting and Hoping: The Countercultural Pursuits of Christmas, will be right up my alley. I will feature products and thoughts in future posts based on the same ideology. This event, after the New York launch and before the Vancouver one, is sponsored in part by Imago ( You can check out the exposition of the book by clicking on this link:
Because Advent is just around the corner--yes, three Sundays from now!--a reminder to buy the Christian seasons calendar I recommended a few weeks ago. I received mine and it is a keeper. Go to to order; they also have some cool ideas about using it, which they send with your order.
And if Advent starts in 21 days, then two weeks from today is 'Stir Up Sunday', a fine Anglican tradition. Put the plum pudding ingredients on your grocery list soon!

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Call for Sponsors

I am seeking a corporate or individual sponsor for the production of my donation to the 2008 Design Hope Toronto art auction and gala; this would involve a very modest investment, but is crucial to the professional developing and mounting of the photography by Toronto Image Works. The venue is moving this year to Modern Weave on King E. and the event is the evening of February 8th. I need confirmation of support by Christmas to make my production deadline. If you can support my contribution, please contact me via If you would like to view my previous entries and learn more about the 2006/2007 events, in which over $17,000 was raised for Dixon Hall's homeless, hostel and housing programming, please go to and FYI, corporate or individual sponsorship is eligible for publicity online, onsite and in the auction catalogue. Many thanks!

A Cool Photo by Jan

Memento Audere Semper 2, © Jan Neal, 2007. You can visit her Studio Journal here:

An Unfinished Life Premiere

I am a huge fan of Canadian 'classical' music and was looking forward to the premiere of Brian Cherney's oratorio, An Unfinished Life, last week at Metropolitan United. Unfortunately much seemed to conspire against this event: errors (e.g., labeling Dutch as German)
in the already poorly laid out concert programme, a cell phone ringing during the CBC recording of this (!!), a sense of underrehearsal (it was only composed this summer) or at least hesitancy or nonconfidence, and worst of all, the sound set up made hearing the narration by Marilyn Lightstone completely unintelligible. The audience was restless, several walked out before the midpoint, and it became something to sit through out of politeness. You might suggest that this modern classical piece was too challenging or deep for me to understand: after over 30 years of singing, I feel comfortable forming opinions about choral music. I'm not Jewish and didn't get the profundity of the piece? Just finished teaching an in-depth and emotional unit on the Holocaust: I don't think I am uneducated in this area. I just felt there was a disconnect between the music and the selected text, and it is hard to make a connection to cacophony. Aside from the redemption at the end of the borrowed Bach motif, I felt jarred and lost rather than moved and drawn into the life of Etty Hillesum. I would like to give this Soundstreams Canada commission another chance one day; maybe the gods were conspiring against this premiere. But I did find the evening unsatisfying: the advertised 'works by Jewish composers of the Renaissance' amounted to psalms set to music by Palestrina and Lassus (whom I understood to be very Christian) and the only Jewish composer represented was Solomon Rossi (1570-1630), of whom I had never heard, so I was interested to learn something there. So, alack, no raves here, but hope for a better experience next time.

For Kids up to 35

On Saturday November 17th, Sound Ministry hosts another night of DJs, electro and techno beats at the Sanctuary, 25 Charles St.E. just off Yonge St, south of Bloor. This time they have guest DJs from the British club scene! I believe these wild and crazy kids start at 8pm and go half the night. They request $5 cover to go towards expenses. If you go to their MySpace page, there's some YouTube footage you can check out (the ones in dark with the glo stix).
Also, please note there is a new internet Christian rock radio station on the permalist at left; the old one folded for regulation reasons. This one has rock, hard rock, hip hop and other listening options. Check it out.

The Sugary and the Hard to Take

Something made me watch Simon Birch (1998) recently, although I think it was just insomnia and it was on TV; I wished I had tried another soporific remedy. Yech: sacchrine and preachy, and worst of all, exploitative of Ian Michael Smith for the purposes of making us feel smug for our normalcy via lecturing us about being grateful. Towit: have we seen him in another movie? No. Anyhow, clearly not sucked into this vortex of the Feel Good genre. However, I do recognize the didactic worth of the movie for perhaps the Tween set if one is looking for an illustration of the importance of love, acceptance and true friendship. Hmmm
On the other hand, The Last King of Scotland (Kevin Macdonald, 2006) is good stuff and definitely not for the Tween set.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Well, Bust my Buttons!

Ok, I will toot my own horn: Just got wind that yours truly is on an online exhibition by ECVA called Feasts for the Eyes. You can see my and others' contributions on the theme of church feasts at (and click on 'next' at the bottom of that and the following pages) and be sure to read the curator Judith McManis' statement via the link on that page.

Gotta love it

COC Marathon

Had my companion and I known that Don Carlos would be a 4 hour 20 minute ride, we would have supped on straight espresso aforehand. However, the COC--thankfully--offered yet another modern production that was worth the eyelid toothpicks the next day. Conductor Paolo Olmi had very large shoes to fill with our absent Richard Bradshaw, but was warmly received. While performances of this Verdi classic are done, there is a whole season of others to look forward to. To see if there are any non-subscription seats still available (!), go to .

Concert Recommendations

Three beauts coming up next weekend:
On Friday Nov 9 and Saturday Nov 10, the Toronto Consort will present "The Queen" with music of the period (the I, not the II monarch) for voice, lutes, bandora, cittern, gambas, violin and keyboard with actor Karen Woolridge. This, at the Trinity-St. Paul's Centre, 427 Bloor St W, for $14-40. 964-6337 or for more info.
Then on Sunday Nov 11, Thomas Fitches plays a recital at 4:30pm, 'Heroic Music & Songs of Peace' by Franck, Langlais; freewill offering. This is at St. Clement's Church, Briar Hill and Duplex Aves. 483 6664 ex 26 for more info. You have just enough time to beetle over to hear the Aradia Ensemble performing Handel's Israel in Egypt, with artistic director Kevin Mallon. The concert begins at 7:30pm at Blessed Sacrament Church which is just south of Yonge and Lawrence. Email for more details.

Thanks to Paul Jenkins for bringing these events to my attention.
To order the Toronto Consort's cd, pls visit . There is also a review by Rick Phillips there.

" "

Most people never know the God they reject.

~Fr. David Belyea

Absolutely Scary

I'm really hoping I am misunderstanding this, but I think it is a new trend:
The world is truly insane.

It's Raining Prodigals!

I recently mentioned Jason Hildebrand's The Prodigal Trilogy film premiere. There is also an exhibit at the Museum of Biblical Art in New York City on until February 7th called 'The Art of Forgiveness: Images of the Prodigal Son'. This show features Rembrandt, Tissot and others' works on this theme. For more info, pls see if you are headed to the Big Apple. Or, you can enjoy the theme from home by flipping to Luke 15.

Bold Steps

There are highland dance classes, and then there are FUN highland classes. Meghan Bold is a teacher who not only excels at the traditional steps, she choreographs the old and new and makes the class time whip by. This is my daughter's umpteenth year in highland, and this is the first time she has had fun doing it. Meghan also teaches step dancing, and her infectious laugh makes adult beginners feel comfortable right away. Should you know of someone looking for a no-stress dance teacher who knows how to bring out the best in her students, ck out the Bold Steps Dance Studio website for contact info and further details,

Keyboard Versatility

I blogged about friend John Kameel Farah before (see cd release post, Sept 9th). You can see him Friday at the Music Gallery at 8pm; that's at St George-the-Martyr Church, @ Stephanie & John St. $10/15. Two pianists fusing improvisation and electronica, towit: solo piano, harpsichord, organ, computer, synth. Presented by the Music Gallery and CBC Radio 2, John is joined by Hauschka of Dusseldorf.
That's John's art on his cd cover, btw.

Oh, Who Needs Drugs?!?

Oh, lovely Opera Atelier! I saw Monteverdi's The Return of Ulysses last night. It's such luxury. The lilt of the music and the stylized gestures are so seductive. Then there's the top notch Atelier Ballet artists, the likes of Paul Jenkins and Boris Nedicky on harpsichords with the Toronto Consort, the whole shebang. They really do have the perfect venue in the Elgin and Winter Garden Theatre. I'm not normally a fan of the soprano voice, but Carla Huhtanen is so lovely; mezzo Stephanie Novacek not only has a gorgeous voice, but is probably the only person who can express sorrow convincingly. [Do I sound like a crazy stalker woman? I just believe in pumping up all good performers, not just those of the opposite sex.] They have a banner year lined up, so get to one of the five remaining performances of Ulysses, and order now for the spring's Idomeneo by Mozart. Here again is their link:

Soundstreams World Premiere

A really exciting premiere is approaching which I can't wait to see and hear. An Unfinished Life is the new work by Brian Cherney 'based on text by extraordinary Dutch author Etty Hillesum. Hillesum, whose wartime diaries have become a classic of 20th century spirituality, died at Auschwitz in 1943.' With a Young Artist Overture @ 7 pm, the concert takes place on Tuesday, November 6, 2007 @ 8 pm, at Metropolitan United Church, 56 Queen St. E. It features the British Hilliard Ensemble, the Tafelmusik Chamber Choir conducted by Ivars Taurins, a chamber orchestra and Marilyn Lightstone as narrator. The program will also include Jewish composers of the Renaissance. $37/$29sr/$10st through the St. Lawrence Centre box office 416 366 7723 or online at

Can't Come Up with a Heading Better than the Website:

As a Christian, this site is really the antipathy of my faith, but I confess I laugh my head off at it all the time. Check out Despair.Com and their products, but only if you have a sense of irony: I love it coz I am so not into all the pc butterflies and rainbows garbage out there, and this stuff sticks its tongue out at hypocrisy and bs. Here's an example (applicability???):It makes you not take things so darn seriously.

Jazz Vespers

Next Sunday, November 4th at 4:30pm we are back for more Jazz Vespers at Christ Church Deer Park (1570 Yonge St). The Kevin Turcotte Quartet leads worship with a tribute to Clifford Brown. Come chill with us.

Des Stuffs Très Cool

Pour les francophones ou ceux/celles qui aiment le français:

"Salut Cousin ! "
Mardi 30 octobre à 19h30
95, Sheppard Ave. W, North York.
for more info call 416 922 2014 ex 35
Entrée gratuite
Sous-titrage en anglais

Hero of the Week

Architecture Corner

Did you know about this? If you are a movie fan, it will be your mecca. (Unless you are an opera fan, and then you'll have to divide your loyalties between it and The Four Season Centre for the Performing House, called the Opera House by normal people). Check out the future Light Box, to be home for the TIFF and other fine things cinematic:

St. Clement's Concert

A reminder about a post from last week: Today, Sunday October 28th, we at St. Clement's host a concert by Elizabeth Fraser, a leading young Canadian flautist from Vancouver. She is a performer with the McGill Symphony Orchestra and the Contemporary Music Ensemble Montreal. The program will include her solos as well as works with harp and organ. Like all concerts in our Sundays At Three Series, it will include refreshments and an opportunity to meet the musician afterwards. Tickets are $20, $15 for students and seniors, but subscription to the series offers discounts. For more info call 416 483 6664 ex 26 or see our website,

Movie Reviews: New Symbols

I am instituting symbols for the hits and misses of movies I see. One each this week!

The Phantom of the Opera. I had sort of put off seeing this because I had done it to death around the time I saw the Toronto stage premiere in 1989--although that was cool; I even had chandelier earrings for the occasion (hey it was the 80s). So here we have Gerard Butler (of 2005 Beowulf and Grendel and 2006 300 fame, both good in their own weird ways) playing the tortured phantom of the opera house--they actually did manage to ugly him down. Then we have this chicky who honestly looks like a muppet half the time playing the apparently oscillating innocent waif/object of lust figure. I could go on about the cheating in set design, the continuity issues, the (in my opinion) not-up-to-scratch singing for pete's sake, the synchronization problems and the absolutely schlocky graveyard scene with anachronistic sculpture, etc etc but I won't.... Leonard Maltin gave it 2 1/2 stars, with good reason. The only fun bit is Minnie Driver playing the impossible Carlotta. Skip the 2004 Joel Schumacher and put on the cd if anything.

Okay, the next one rates popcorn but hold the butter. Conversations with God was extremely hard to watch but that's not the problem. I'll get to that later. This 2005 film by Stephen Simon, filmed in Oregon, was about an average Joe who ends up homeless through a series of circumstances beyond his control: there but by the grace of God go I. Watching the pain of his humiliation was terribly difficult, testimony to Canadian Henry Czerny's acting. One cries along with him and rejoices with his tiny victories and steps forward. Then a bad thing happens: the movie gets happy. More specifically, the main character, who is based on real life author Neale Donald Walsch, is suddenly inspired by God/the Holy Spirit? to write bestselling Answers to Life, becomes a millionaire and then when he has an apparent revelation bordering on paranormal access, I got very uncomfortable. It went from real life to puh-lease! So here's my snack bar recommendation: use the first 2/3 of the movie to spark a youth group service project or bible study conversation, then skip the dumbness at the end. Other than that, it's a great story about tenacity, faith and transformation. Bring kleenex.

Creativity Stuff

Michael Bungay Stanier has yet another interesting issue of Outside the Lines available for your perusal: ck out his discussion about Creativity at Michael is the creator of the 8 Irresistible Principles of Fun, highlighted on a hyperlink to the right.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Oooooooo, a racy photo!

Thought that would get your attention. If Tapestry is the coolest opera company in TO, then Opera Atelier is the most sumptuous opera experience on offer. If you have never been to an Opera Atelier production, you are missing out big time. This company specializes in Baroque opera theatre, and provides the instrumental accompaniment, costumes and choreography to match it. (Even non-opera-lovers--if there be such a thing--would love it). It is always an exquisite experience for the senses, even without the hot young cast! But seriously, some of the best young operatic talent around, like Stephanie Novacek and Olivier Laquerre, is directed by some of the most intelligent artistic directors around, i.e. Marshall Pynkoski and Jeannette Zingg, and the outcome is always fab-o. Add Artists of Atelier Ballet, David Fallis conducting Canada’s finest renaissance ensemble on period instruments, the Toronto Consort, and waddya get? Monteverdi's The Return of Ulysses, that's what. From their site: 'This deeply moving opera recounts the story of the Greek king Ulysses and his return to his homeland after a twenty year absence fighting in the Trojan War. Ulysses’ reunion with his heroic wife, Penelope and his son, Telemachus makes for some of the most poignant moments in operatic history.' If John Terauds likes OA, you know they've got to be impressive (I always trust his musical judgment).
The Return of Ulysses runs October 27, 30, November 1, 2 and 3 at 7:30pm, and October 28 at 3pm. Find out about regular and special ticket prices via (416) 872-5555, in person at the Elgin Theatre Box Office, 189 Yonge St. (Yonge & Queen), or online at
Trust me, this is one art offering you can't go wrong with. Do yourself a favour and go. Next week I will report on my experience. (Gee, do you get the sense it will be a positive review?....)

Sneaking Opera into Kids' Lives

I LOVE my COC, but the coolest opera company going is Tapestry New Opera (they're the cool ones I mentioned in Nuit Blanche). One of their many projects for this year is a collaborative effort with PREVNet and sponsored by TD Canada Trust Music, a touring production in Oct/Nov and April in Toronto schools. Here is info on their fundraiser this Tuesday the 23rd (and please note the opportunity to sponsor a child from the Regent Park School of Music to attend):

Elijah's Kite
Camyar Chai, librettist / James Rolfe, composer
October 23rd Special Performance & Fundraiser
Tapestry's opera for young people about bullying prevention will tour Ontario schools in the fall of 2007 and the spring of 2008. Tapestry's development partner, PREVNet (Promoting Relationships Eliminating Violence Network), is pleased to announce a joint fundraiser in support of the TD Canada Trust Music Elijah's Kite School Tour and of PREVNet's ongoing research. The performance will be followed by a catered reception and will be recorded by the CBC for an upcoming broadcast.
Join us for a special performance of Elijah's Kite featuring children from the Regent Park School of Music on October 23rd at 7pm at the The Glenn Gould Studio, 250 Front St. W., Toronto.
TIX: $95 at
A tax receipt will be provided.

Book Madness

A few days remain of the 32nd Annual Trinity College Book Sale, an insane event if ever there was one. It is open today til 8, Monday 10-8 and Tuesday 10-8. All forms of payment are accepted. Risk the bruises and get some serious bargoons! 6 Hoskin Ave, 978 6750 or

Sundays at 3

Next Sunday, October 28th, we at St. Clement's will host a concert by Elizabeth Fraser, a leading young Canadian flautist from Vancouver. She is a performer with the McGill Symphony Orchestra and the Contemporary Music Ensemble Montreal. The program will include her solos as well as works with harp and organ. Like all concerts in our Sundays At Three Series, it will include refreshments and an opportunity to ‘meet the musician’ afterwards. Tickets are $20, $15 for students and seniors, but subscription to the series offers discounts. For more info call 416 483 6664 ex 26 or see our website,

Get Animated!

This coming Sunday is World Animation Day, and the NFB hq is highlighting animation shorts, free to the public. You can get more info by clicking here: to see what is going on in the Toronto area this week.

" "

"Every saint has a past and every sinner has a future."

~Jan Karon

Hero of the Week

As friends will know, I am not a political person in the least. However, I wanted to have a shout-out for someone who has restored my faith in politicians: Lillyann Goldstein, recent runner in the provincial election. This lady impressed my son when she visited his school (while her opponent was condescending to young people), and she went out of her way for me right in the middle of her campaign. A lady of integrity. Just so you know.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Friends Plug Each Other!

To read the small print, right click on 'open link in new window'. On now!

'Prodigal' Delivers Big Time!

We went to the premiere of Jason Hildebrand's film, The Prodigal Trilogy, this week and were blown away! This is one powerful film! So, so cool. Jason has produced a modern re-telling of the story, which has evolved over eight years of his performing it, and which is sure to become a classic. We wish him the best of luck in marketing this piece. It ended with silence, sniffles and a standing ovation in the theatre. I loved it theologically and artistically, and my filmmaking daughter loved the cinematography. I am working on having it shown at my school, and would strongly recommend it for youth, Bible study and film groups. You can get info about obtaining a dvd at In case you missed my last plug before the premiere, ck out the trailer here: Ck out his other doings at his eponymous website.

Hero of the Week

I think I have recommended this website before, but as Nic Askew is back from a move and pseudo-sabbatical/travel, I thought I would give him another shout-out. Nic has a knack (!) for finding what is important in people and putting it on film. Sometimes in unexpected ways. For instance, watch last Monday's film, Beyond the Words. Then sign up for your weekly delivery. It's always food for thought and truly a great way to start your week.

"Subverting Secular Time"!

The Salt of the Earth Christian Seasons art calendar is just that: it maps out the year based on the church year, starting with Advent. A really cool indicator of your Christian orientation. It's only $11.95, and is the work of the University Hill Congregation (United Church) in Vancouver. Call 604 696 1295 or ck it out at Be a rebel: use a different calendar than the rest of society!

Jazz Vespers!

Next Sunday, October 21 4:30pm at Christ Church Deer Park (1570 Yonge St). The Brian O'Kane Quartet leads worship with a tribute to Dizzie Gillespie. This early evening office gets increasingly beautiful as the days shorten and one emerges from the church into less and less sunlight. Come park on a pew for an hour or so.


Saw a quiet but big movie this weekend: Off the Map (2005, Campbell Scott director). This quirky film is about loss, grace and resurrection, and manages to address the holy in life without being hokey. Oh, and for once, a homeschooled child was represented realistically--creative, imaginative and poised--rather than as some social freak or oddball which is usually the way in the media (recall Dharma?). It was also about art and its power in the human psyche. Great performances, artistic integrity, Christian worldview themes--what's not to love? Rated PG for some dumb reason (you know the MTV rant). Highly recommended.

" "

This is my Father's world,
and to my listening ears
all nature sings and round me rings
the music of the spheres.
This is my Father's world;
I rest me in the thought--
of rocks and trees, of skies and seas,
his hand the wonders wrought.

~Maltbie Davenport Babcock 1858-1901

Discussion on Art

Did you tune into Cross Country Check-Up on CBC radio with Rex today? They were asking people what constituted art to them. There were lots of myopic views shared. I thought it was very interesting that one of the most apt comments about modern art was via an email from a 13-year old. There's hope for the future yet.....

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Hey, Faith Really Can Move Mountains!

Francis Alÿs, Still from When Faith Moves Mountains, 2002

A Belgian based in Mexico City, Francis Alÿs often creates art on religious themes. In 2002, he filmed 500 volunteers digging in single file to literally move a 1600 ft. sand dune over 4 inches from its original location.
Francis Alÿs: Politics of Rehearsal, is a major exhibit of various media, and will be on view at the Hammer Museum in L.A., September 30, 2007 through February 10, 2008.

I want them!