Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Quills and Spills

To see the miraculously retrieved Margaret Atwood review, scroll down the page.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

If Your Are Under 40....

Another 'sick' website (parents, that means 'cool', just so you don't freak) came to my attention for the 20-30 set: http://www.bustedhalo.com/
If you liked geezemagazine.com, you should like this atypical product of the Paulist fathers. Check it out.


©V.Wells, 2007

Museum Prioritizing?

There has been much navel gazing and gnashing of teeth as to why we in Canada do not have a portrait gallery yet, and now we are apparently getting a human rights museum. In the same breath, news wires report that art galleries and museums such as, recently, ones in Saskatchewan and Alberta are finally getting some financial respite to conduct much needed repairs and renewal projects. Am I slow, or does it not make sense to fix what is broke before manufacturing more? Kind of like if Montreal were to build some new state of the art toll bridges right now.... Interesting how the new stuff goes to the tourist magnets like, oh, the capital region, but cultural institutions anywhere outside the money belt shamefully go without funding and usually face funding cutbacks so that their programs suffer from crippling deficits. Argh.

Call for Artists

Another call comes via our friends at CIVA: "CIVA is currently accepting entries for the invitational exhibition Art and Text. This exhibition brings together the works of no more than twelve CIVA members and may include up to five works per artist, depending upon factors such as size and shipping weight. Various media will be considered (drawing, painting, printmaking, sculpture, photography, mixed media and new media.)" For full details go to www.civa.org

Call for Papers

A call for papers on the topic "Of Sacred Crossroads" has been issued by the Association for Cultural Studies, for the International Crossroads in Cultural Studies Conference at the University of the West Indies, Jamaica in July 2008. Abstracts are required and are due by November 30th. For full details go to www.crossroads2008.org

Sunday, August 19, 2007

An American in Birthday History

This Thursday, August 23rd is the anniversary of Gene Kelly's birth in 1912. This incomparable dancer and velvet-voiced singer is a dvd fixture in our house. We'll see if the weather calls for rain that day.

For the Young Metalheads

Let us cheer ourselves from the entry below by looking at another place the cello is used: the Finnish heavy metal band, Apocalyptica. My son, ex-metal aficionado, confirms their status as legitimately good.

You can get a good flashcard of them at http://www.apocalyptica.com/stuff/flashcards.php

Not sure they are exactly squeaky clean but they do know how to rock.

Hero of the Week - Reprise

On June 3rd I pointed to Richard Bradshaw as a hero of the Canadian opera scene, and now~alas~he has died. What a loss for the COC and for us, the appreciative audience. I will miss watching him conducting the opera. tibi gratias agimus, Richard.

Call for Artists

The National Exhibit by Art-at-the-Cathedral (Lexington, Kentucky) announces a new call: "Themes for Advent and Christmas". 2D or 3D media are welcome, and are due by October 15th or 17th depending on means of delivery. For more information about submission details, sales, etc. pls visit http://www.ccclex.org/Art-at-the-Cathedral.html. Thanks to ECVA for bringing this to our attention.

By Anonymous

"If you are looking for a friend, don't look for perfection, look for friendship".

Monday, August 13, 2007

For the Youngsters

You kids discovering what good taste your parents had in rock music will be glad to hear that there will be a cd release of Best Ofs by Led Zeppelin in November, along with a dvd of their 1976 concert in NYC, The Song Remains the Same. Whet your appetite with Black Dog here: http://www.ledzeppelin.com/site_flash/fs_audio.html

The Blue Screen of Blog Death

I just wrote a superbly crafted review of The Penelopiad by Margaret Atwood and cyberspace sucked it into a black hole. Here's the gist of what it said:
1. Read the book; it's really good.
2. Go see the stage production at the NAC Sept 19-Oct 7; it's supposed to be good.

Stupid computers.

Quills and Ink Spills--Retrieved!

Lots of hoopla lately about the dramatization of Margaret Atwood's The Penelopiad. The book (Knopf 2005) was the result of a series of myths reinterpreted by various authors and true to her form, this retelling of Penelope and Odysseus has Atwood's wit and acerbic perception; I laughed all the way through it. A week ago the theatrical producation, with choreography by Victoria Tennant--it's a joint NAC/Royal Shakespeare Company effort--opened over the pond to largely good reviews. If it's anything like the book or the operatic adaptation of The Handmaid's Tale (which was fab), I know it will beat by grade 8 exposure to mythology, which turned me off myths for 30 years. It plays in Ottawa Sept 19- Oct 7.

New Music, Music in the News

I was recently given the new cd by Peirson Ross, a Torontonian singer/songwriter whose album I found quite sweet. Check out some of his songs such as the thoughtful A Boy Caught on Words at http://peirsonross.com/song-boy_words.htm. His lilting style grows on you.

Ever hear a new word and then encounter it 15 times? That's been my experience with the graphic novel thing I discussed earlier. The Globe and Mail ran an article in the books section about them last month, I'm using one to teach in a class this year, and now Neil Young's Greendale cd is headed for graphic expression. I didn't know the music, but found everything I ever wanted to know about Greendale at http://www.neilyoung.com/tracks/tracks_menu.html. Look for the graphic novel next year.

Follow the Yellow Brick Road to SSJD

One of my favourite places is the convent of the Sisterhood of St. John the Divine in North York, and one of my fave things is the movie The Wizard of Oz. In a perfect world I would be attending an upcoming retreat program they are offering, led by neat people, Srs. Constance Joanna and Elizabeth Ann on November 23-25, called Praying in the Land of Oz. More info about this and other programming offered there can be found at http://ssjd.ca/retreats.html.

How Do You Say 'Bird's Nest' in Chinese Anyways?

I loved this story: the architect of the 91 000 seat stadium in Beijing is threatening to boycott the 2008 Olympics for political reasons (see http://www.cbc.ca/arts/artdesign/story/2007/08/11/beijing-artist-stadium.html for the story). Ai Weiwei, son of a political activist prisoner, is standing up to the Chinese government for their wacky human rights stance, something I don't think I would have the courage to do. Not a case of art imitating life, but of art trying to shape life. Kudos to you, Weiwei.

The Sort-of Weekly Diatribe

Okay, can we talk about Harry Potter for a minute? I know, we're all a bit overmuggled at the moment, what with the book and film releases, but I would like to offer two comments.
What the H-E-Double-Hockeysticks is wrong with the world??? Prior to the release of the English-language version of the final book, some patheticos in Britain were setting up a kids help/phone line in anticipation of helping young muggles cope with the potential killing off of the character(s). I just googled 'Crucifixion kids helpline' and 'Charlotte's Web kids helpline' to no avail: I guess we are just so much more enlightened about childhood trauma nowadays. The creators of this phone counselling service must live in an incredible bubble if they think that is a needed service. I'm sure the Kenyan garbage dump children and the Rwandan child soldiers will be really grateful that that service is available to them after they finish the book......
On a slightly saner note, JK and the Powers That Be are not going to sue the teenager who had posted an unofficial prevenient French translation of the book on the web. Gee, how nice of them not to sue a young person for reading and translating; have they never heard of drugs and crime? A kid does something constructive and ambitious, and they have to consider whether or not to waste his parents' and the state's money and time taking him to court. Oy vey.

Creativity Tips on YouTube

I usually eschew self-improvement guruism, but I do like the woman who brought us the anti-self improvement day, Comfort Queen Jennifer Louden. While perhaps not incredibly original, she is a good angelos of reminders, such as this one about facilitating creativity. Check out her 2 minute video here : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G5S3FWR3lZY ; just take a deep breath and be prepared for major boppiness. You can also sign up for her email newsletter at http://www.comfortqueen.com/ .

Pleasantville is Just That

I recently watched the movie Pleasantville with the ever-appealing Tobey Maguire in the main role of a story in which a teen and his sister are transported back not only in time but into the TV-fictional 1950's town of Pleasantville, where everything is just A+ top drawer swell. The lesson, of course, is that wishing for perfection is the wrong route because it rarely pans out as we imagine. Perhaps a little too predictable and didactic, I felt the film was a good reminder to be grateful for what we have and also to be open to the possibilities of spontaneity. It reminded me of issues raised in the ongoing Star Trek prohibition against changing the Prime Directive and in the Lois Lowry novel The Giver (a five Quills rating on that one) which promotes the idea that trials and tribulations are invaluable to the human experience. Pleasantville has socio-political overtones about the 'non-changeist view' and the rejection of prejudice (the non-conforming Coloureds--literally people in colour vs. the town's black and white people--are to be embraced despite their differentness), and it celebrates individualism, choice and the joy of self-expression, as per the artist character played by Jeff Daniels. As usual, the PG13 rating is a bit moot (you know my MTV rant) and I believe the overall message is never outdated and ideal for youth groups and the like. A nice little fable that won't waste your movie night.