Sunday, September 30, 2007

Nuit Blanche

Our family and friends spread out across the city to check out the various offerings of Nuit Blanche with varying degrees of satisfaction.

My night rocked with Tapestry New Opera's Opera Briefs, the result of Lib Lab (think speed dating for librettists and composers). Regulars Keith Klassen, Carla Huhtanen, Peter McGillvray, Jessica Lloyd and Scott Belluz were outstanding, and the germinal operas literally had me on the edge of my seat.

Also worth a laugh were the slideshow dramas of Sarah Teitel and Shira Leuchter about Macbeth, Sodom and Gomorrah "in the medium of Barbie Doll". Great girls with refreshing output!

Apparently the downtown section had some misfires, Yorkville was hot, and Church and Wellesley successfully represented red light districts of previous eras. As one in our posse said, it was cool, but I 'm glad I didn't pay. Dommage, too, that the trendies crowding the galleries don't support them the other 364 days/nights. Church next morning prevented some of us from staying out all night but next year we'll fortify ourselves with some double red-eye Americano first.

Jazz Vespers

The next Jazz Vespers is Sunday October 7th at 4:30pm. Christ Church Deer Park hosts the Robi Botos Trio (wahoo!), celebrating the music of Thelonius Monk. 1570 Yonge St at Heath, 920 5211; free/offering taken up.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

" "

Shame our wanton selfish gladness, rich in goods and poor in soul.

~Harry Emerson Fosdick (1878-1969)

Boredom of Heaven

I recently watched--intermittently--Kingdom of Heaven (2005), directed by Ridley Scott of Gladiator fame. This Orlando/Liam fest attempted to reduce all of crusade history into some small window of the Middle Ages, as if it all kinda squished into about 30 years. The moslem stereotypes, while not exactly offensive, were pretty hackneyed, and someone let the costume designer go wild: the crusaders apparently had every kind of anachronistic cross embroidered on everything! Even St. George's cross was on banners. As a liturgical symbolist, I think I know my crosses pretty well, and trust me, this film is a little historically incorrect.... And nary a scallop shell anywhere (the pilgrim's symbol). I guess that's where I started to lose interest. The flying cgi blood also got irritating. I awoke three times to find Orlando was doing something honourable and brave again. Blech! So glad I didn't rent the dvd.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Call for Volunteers

Each year I participate in Design Hope Toronto which raises funds for Dixon Hall's homeless shelter by auctioning art in various media on a certain theme. This event usually takes place in February at Gallery 1313 and is primarily coordinated by Philip Sung Design Associates, a downtown architectural firm. Here is their call for volunteers:

After two very successful years raising money and awareness for the homeless at our annual gala and art auction, we want to spread our message of hope even further.

In order to reach more people across Toronto, we need to fill a variety of vacancies on our organizing committee including, but not limited to, corporate donations, media relations and student contact.

Design Hope Toronto is a volunteer collective that will meet at a central location once a month leading up to our next event in February 2008. We are also looking for people who can donate their time on a short-term basis closer to and at the gala.

If you would like to help, please reply to for more information, or pass this along to someone who might be interested in joining our team.
More information about Design Hope Toronto can be seen at

At this point they mainly need someone to help with corporate donations, but please feel free to contact them through the email address above.

Thank you for your consideration of support!

Monday, September 24, 2007

DVD Premiere!

Friends at Imago have made me aware of a premiere of a short film by Jason Hildebrand called The Prodigal Trilogy which takes place on Thursday October 11th at the Royal Cinema (608 College St) at 7pm. The preview looks fantastic! For more information on how to rsvp your intention to attend this screening, please email your name, number of guests and full contact info to You can also inquire about acquiring the dvd for yourself. For more information about Imago, which supports the Christian arts, please visit

Sunday, September 23, 2007

If you don't get teary-eyed over this, there is something wrong with you-

Someone emailed this to me but to acccess it from here, go to; scroll down to the fourth shining star on the left (you'll see what I mean) and there is a story about Ralphie the dog. Even if it is doctored a bit, it is feasible. A caveat, however: there is a lot of graphic stuff (even written) on the site about abused animals, so keep your eyes left if you haven't the stomach for that.

love it!


Oh my gosh--this is an amazing film. Every time I reflect on it I get goosebumps. This movie, directed by Paul Haggis (2004), is a wonderful challenge to one's belief system. It is about racism, sexism, social status, deviance, power and authority--pretty much all the juicy sociological topics you can think of--but it examines every side of the coin, if you see what I mean; there isn't just black and white, if you'll pardon the pun, but many shades in between. It is full of irony, redemption, ruined dreams, horrific things and divine intervention. Crash reminded me of Magnolia in many ways, although this movie is completely heartbreaking and very poignant. Makes a great stocking stuffer for the humanists and the bigots on your list. Honestly. It should be discussed widely.

The Blessing of Animals

Next Saturday September 29th at 11am at the Cathedral of St. James there will be an annual service of the blessing of the animals in celebration of St. Franics Day on October 2nd. If you have never taken Rover or Boots to a blessing service, you really must, or at least go on your own and do it by proxy. The atmosphere is amazing; you'd think the animals would be scratching each others' eyes out, but usually there is a strange peace. Kind of like Edward Hicks' The Peaceable Kingdom. For more info call 416 364 7865 or go to the service at Church and King Streets; they tend to bring in animal and human reps from the zoo, Toronto Police Mounted Unit etc.

Hymnology 101

"...for Jesus restores what sin would destroy..."

~Byrn Austin Rees (1911-1983) in
'The Kingdom of God is Justice and Joy'

ROM Walks

One of my new discoveries recently has been the ROMwalks; I knew about them for yonks but finally got off my rear and went on some. The experience level of the docents varied and there were some errata (noticeably re: Latin inscriptions, but you knew I'd pick those out....), but I can't say I wasted my two hours with them. The last two of the season are today at 2pm around the ROM itself, and next Sunday Sept 30th at 2pm around Cabbagetown. I will bring up this outing again when next year's season opens in May. For further info, go to or call 416 586 8097

Little Miss Sunshine

I watched this film at my church's film and theology night, and was sorry I hadn't seen it when it had come out. Frankly, the title had put me off and I foolishly dismissed looking into the film. This is a fascinating movie about family relationships and accepting people for who they are, rather than looking for non-existent perfection. Best of all (for me) this film was rife with Christian symbolism--wahoo! Don't get me wrong, this is no goody-two-shoes flick; there is tons of swearing and discussion about difficult topics-hence the reality ascription. I highly recommend this film for its poignancy and its humour. As our priest said, if you think your family is dysfunctional, this one is bound to make you feel better!

Hero of the Week

From 'Suzanne':

And Jesus was a sailor
When he walked upon the water
And he spent a long time watching
From his lonely wooden tower
And when he knew for certain
Only drowning men could see him
He said "All men will be sailors then Until the sea shall free them"
But he himself was broken
Long before the sky would open
Forsaken, almost human
He sank beneath your wisdom like a stone
And you want to travel with him And you want to travel blind
And you think maybe you'll trust him
For he's touched your perfect body with his mind.
~Leonard Cohen

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Thanks to...

Just wanted to say thanks to the following people for extending friendship this week: Laura, Jim, Anna, Marilyn, Heather, Marguerita, Viviana, Randy, Simon, Christa (and I hope I haven't left anyone out!).

Sunday, September 9, 2007


Hero of the Week

Alas, another loss to the Christian arts community! One of my favourite authors, Madeleine L'Engle, died this week at 88. She is perhaps best known for her novels inspired by her curiousity about quantum physics, such as A Wrinkle in Time, but she also wrote extensively about faith and the arts. Since she bristled at the label 'children's writer' (which she felt was a slur to like authors, and an insult to children), I will emphasize that although my daughter read several of her books at around age 12, I read some of the same ones, and they had me hooked. She also chronicled family life (The Crosswicks Journals), and wrote many adult-themed novels based on biblical sources; one that I have not cracked open yet is The Genesis Trilogy. Ms. L'Engle was unapologetic about her Episcopalian worldview. She is greatly admired in our household.

Another Plug

This shout-out is for a musician whose out-there-ness I respect very much; my previous contact with him through Wholenote magazine (see permalist, right) left me with the sense that he has not only musical but personal integrity. John Kameel Farah has a new cd out called Creation and you can sample his electronic style here: Make sure you also look at the song 'Healings', videographed by Eamon MacMahon, which is on that page. And if you want to see something really trippy/heavenly, try an example from a previous collaboration: As per the site, "GRAVITAS: Portraits of a Universe in Motion is an ongoing project to visualize and animate the dynamics of galaxies using supercomputer simulations ...[It] is a synthesis of science and the arts. Long animation sequences of interacting galaxies and structure formation are set to the original music of John Farah inspired by these animations, creating a compelling synthesis of sound, motion, vast dimensions and timescales and Newton's universal laws of gravity and motion." It was produced in conjunction with astronomer John Dubinski, and it is truly lovely and original.

BTW, any cd/dvd on this blog are on my Christmas wish list.....

If You're Under 30 and You Know It, Clap Your Hands...

Ok, here's some new music for the non-seniors in the bloggership: actually, MC Maguire can't be pigeonholed. He has done such eclectic work that his appeal may be very wide. 'Course, coming from Eastman (and more), he is bound to be well-rounded. Unfortunately, the mp3 downloads are $1 ea., but that's the fallout we get from the whole piracy/free downloading issue. Roam around his site at

Join Jan in the Back to School Swoon

Branch Out, Cockburn Fans!

This chappy just finished a 'musicycle' cross-canada tour yesterday, which you can read about under the home section of the site, but ck out Derek Oliver's cd. He sounds very much like Bruce Cockburn; explore some sample songs here: . I like to push Canadian composition, so check out the Sonic Reveries excerpt too.

Monday, September 3, 2007


Mellower Live Music for the over-30s

Actually, I shouldn't say 'mellow' because every hip adult in Toronto is getting into the music at the semi-monthly Jazz Vespers which returns for a new season this week. Yay! Except I have another commitment elsewhere! Perhaps you can attend for me as they feature the John Johnson Quartet, celebrating Cannonball Adderley. I'll post a reminder of the next one on the 23rd too. So this Sunday September 9th, 4:30pm, go to Christ Church Deer Park, 1570 Yonge St north of St. Clair (920-5211); admission is free but an offering is taken up for those who can support this ministry.

Turntable Worship for the under-30s

"Reaching out to the party culture of our day", a new ministry under the auspices of the Toronto Airport Christian Fellowship called Triple 7 Ministries has an online presence as well as regular downtown church meetings at various club-like set-ups. You can ck out their MySpace, Facebook and other web stuff like mp3 mix downloads on their website

I Furiosi Return!

Their first concert of the season is 'Crazy': "Mental instability can be a result of many different things – unrequited love, power struggles, being dropped on the head at birth... The ensemble whips off the strait-jackets for this presentation of wackos from the Baroque era." Guest: Stephanie Martin, organ
Saturday, September 15th, 2007, 8:00pm
Calvin Presbyterian Church, 26 Delisle Ave.Toronto
Price: $20/10 at the door.
Don't miss this; these folks are a riot and their concerts are absolutely fantastic.

Creative Spark products

Two things to bring you from our friends at Creative Spark and Burning Brush:

Virtual pilgrimages you can make at
the Burning Brush 2007 Online Gallery Winners in various media,

They seem to be attracting the same type of artists as CIVA so it's interesting to see where Christian art is going all over the continent.

Grow Up! Be a Child!

Yesterday's sermon at St. Clement's by the Rev Canon Dr Harry Robinson talked about Jesus' admonition that in order to enter the kingdom of Heaven, one must become like a child (Matt 18:3). This immediately reminded me of an article in Scientific American MIND about cognition and creativity (XVI i, 19). The latter reviewed characteristics typical of people easily led to creativity, one of which was wonderment, "a spirit of discovery, a childlike curiosity about the world". I found it interesting that the goal of creativity and the goal of eternal life both required becoming like a child, laying yourself open to vulnerability, innocence and humility--casting away the strictures and pretences of adulthood. And both ends are not run-of-the-mill. Inheriting the Kingdom and creativity are both for our benefit; not doing those things is our loss. The Rev. Robinson talked about adults as the flesh of Adam being locked into time and space, but a descendant of Adam--via water and the spirit--can grow and bear fruit. At this time of a 'new year', let us all take time to become more like a child; it can only do us good.