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Scripturient: Anthony and Cleopatra

While Julius Caesar is my favourite of all Shakespeare’s plays, I think Anthony and Cleopatra is my second favourite. I know it’s hard to choose any favourites from his plays, they’re all so good, but this one seems to resonate with me more than most others, enough to encourage me to reread it this week. […]

Scripturient: Strat Plan Part 6: Culture and the Arts

The fifth and final objective in Collingwood’s developing strategic plan (the woo-hoo plan) is culture and the arts. For something so important to the community, with such a huge potential, it encompasses a mere two goals. Disappointingly, neither of them relate to its huge economic potential, which everyone else seems to understand except this committee and […]

Accidental Deliberations: New column day

Here, on the Saskatchewan Party’s devaluation of the music teacher (among other cultural and community-building parts of our schools).

For further reading…- CBC reported on the Prairie Spirit School Division’s decision to eliminate school bands here, and Janet French did likewise here.- The Star-Phoenix’ editorial board weighed in here. And now, even the Saskatchewan Party is pretending to oppose what its policy choices have wrought.- And for those looking to support the students trying to save their band program, Shawna Langer’s petition is here.

Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: Shakespeare Changed Everything

I have been reading an entertaining little book called How Shakespeare Changed Everything, which, as the title suggests, is about the pervasive influence the Bard has had on pretty much everything in our lives ever since he started putting quill to paper. Stephen Marche’s book was described in the NatPost as a, “sprightly, erudite sampling […]

Dead Wild Roses: DWR Friday Musical Interlude: Histoire du tango, Astor Piazzolla

On Sunday mornings, I get up shortly after Arb leaves for work, and move from the cozy, snuggly bed to the equally snuggly sofa. I make a cup of coffee and listen to Sunday Breakfast on CKUA, and half-doze under at least one cat (depending on Fiona and V’s current level of detente). This Sunday, as I faded in and out of consciousness, I heard something familiar and yet not. “This sounds like Piazzolla,” I thought, “but I don’t recognize it.” Turns out I was right, it was Piazzolla, and the reason I didn’t recognize it was that (Read more…)

Dead Wild Roses: The DWR Sunday Disservice: Free Association at Choir Practice

Naturally for this time of year, the choir that Arb and I sing in is preparing for our Christmas concert, and there is Jebus-music aplenty. Really that’s OK by me; most of the shit about Santa seriously sucks. One of the beautiful carols we’re doing is Harold Darke’s arrangement of In the Bleak Midwinter. Here’s the final verse:

What shall I give him, poor as I am? If I were a shepherd, I would bring a lamb. If I were a wise man, I would do my part. Yet what can I give him: give my heart!

(Read more…)

Dead Wild Roses: Friday Musical Interlude: The Intransigent One’s Favourite Band

This is VNV Nation, an Irish/English alternative electronic/industrial duo currently based out of Berlin, but touring to Canada this fall/winter – I’ve already got tickets – and plane tickets because the closest they’re coming is Vancouver.

They were my first exposure to electronic/industrial music – I grew up in a classical bubble – and I was hooked pretty much instantly.

Turn up the volume and turn up the bass before pressing play.

The song is “Joy”, a humanist anthem and my personal anthem as well.

Filed under: Arts, Atheism, Music, personal Tagged: The DWR Friday Musical Interlude, vnv nation

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Melissa Fong: Centre A fosters intergenerational and intercultural space for Chinatown

I sometimes write things and they get published in The Georgia Straight: Mrs. Chang is a 96-year old elder who calls Vancouver’s Chinatown her home. In a neighbourhood filled with poh-pohs (Chinese […]

Melissa Fong: #VanCulturalSpaces @VisionVancouver event summary: “Protecting Vancouver’s Cultural Spaces: How we can preserve culture in a growing city”

I Live Tweeted the Vision Vancouver-sponsored event “Protecting Vancouver’s Cultural Spaces: How we can preserve culture in a growing city”- You can search the hashtag #VanCulturalSpaces for related tweets on the event. It […]

Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: Marcus Aurelius

I continue to be profoundly moved by the wisdom of the classical authors. It’s often hard to accept that some of them were writing two or more millennia ago: many seem so contemporary they could have been written this century. Of late – within the past year or so – I’ve been reading Lucretius, Aristotle, […]

Dead Wild Roses: Friday Musical Interlude

Tom Lehrer is a Renaissance Man of the twentieth century. He’s not only a composer, pianist, and singer, who lectures extensively on musical theatre; he’s also a published and teaching mathematician.

Mystro is a particular fan of Dr. Lehrer’s work and has performed it on several occasions, when our choir replaces rehearsal with Talent Nite.

Last week was our singing teacher’s student cabaret. Upon learning, maybe a month ago, that the Italian aria he had been working on wouldn’t do for a cabaret, Arb had to scramble for some different, lighter repertoire, and decided to follow Mystro’s example. Here’s the (Read more…)

Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: Lucretius and the Renaissance

It’s fairly clear, even after reading only a few verses, why Lucretius’s didactic poem, On the Nature of Things – De Rerum Natura – made such an impact on thought, philosophy, religion and science in the Renaissance. It must have been like a lighthouse in the dark night; a “Eureka” moment for many of the age’s thinkers. […]

Dead Wild Roses: Crafty Update: Salute to Putin Gloves Completed

I set myself a challenge to get these done before the Olympics closing ceremonies, and I did!

Filed under: Arts, Humour

Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: The 2013 Great Gatsby

Watched the 2013 film of The Great Gatsby last night. The first half was spectacular, grandiose and captivating, if somewhat over the top. Like Busby Berkeley meets The Fifth Element. Extravaganza, spectacle and excess. The film doesn’t feel like it’s set in New York of the Jazz Age. It’s too shiny, too polished, too mechanical, […]

Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: Saving Fubsy from Lexicographical Caliginosity

Cousin Stephen, you will never be a saint. Isle of saints. You were awfully holy, weren’t you? You prayed to the Blessed Virgin that you might not have a red nose. You prayed to the devil in Serpentine avenue that the fubsy widow in front might lift her clothes still more from the wet street. […]

Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: The Wild Women of Wongo

Who can resist a film with a title like that? Or Zontar, the Thing From Venus? Robot Monster? Voyage to the Prehistoric Planet? The Atomic Brain? Clearly, I can’t. I love this stuff. B-films, especially scifi B-films. But I am a tad disappointed with this Mill Creek package.* I recently received the set of SciFi […]

Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: The Music of the Templars

For the past 25 years, I have had a mysterious page in Latin, held in a cheap picture frame, and stored in a closet for many years. It’s a two-sided page from a book, printed in black and red letters. I bought it at a used-book store in Toronto back when I lived there and […]

Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: To err is human. And bureaucratic.

Errare humanum est, perseverare diabolicum, et tertium non datur. To err is human; to persevere in error is diabolical; there is no third option. Bit of a tough love phrase, that one. Most of us know this as the later paraphrase of Alexander Pope: to err is humane, to forgive divine. Yes, he wrote “humane” […]

Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: Makes you feel happy, like an old time movie

There’s something touching about a classic film, something magical about a B&W movie, about a film shot between the wars in that period of recovery and optimism; a film that was new when my parents were young, full of life and hope. A movie from the days before CGI, before green screens and 3D. Before slasher […]

Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: Selling the electric upright bass

My first experience playing a bass guitar came when I was asked to join a local garage band in the mid-1960s. I was learning rhythm guitar back then, inspired by the Beatles and the wave of British pop bands that flooded the airwaves from around 1962. But they already had two of those. They didn’t […]

Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: Coriolanus on Film

Coriolanus is a tough play, full of politics and angry people and shouting mobs. It has no comic relief, no jesters, no romance and no real heroes. No great soliloquies, unsympathetic characters, uncomfortable double dealing, treachery and plotting. No powerful subplot as a counterpoint. Pride, arrogance, and power dominate. Coriolanus himself is empty, driven, bereft […]

Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: The Fretful Porpentine

Like quills upon the fretful porpentine. That phrase just makes the modern reader stop and wonder. What, you ask yourself, is a porpentine? And why is it fretful? We never learn, although later interpreters would knowingly tell us a porpentine is a porcupine in today’s argot. Porcupine itself dervices from the Old or Middle French […]

Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: In Appreciation of Vintage Music

I was listening the other day to a song sung by Cliff Edwards, Cheating on Me, recorded from an old 78 RPM single. Scratchy, warbly, and a bit thin, but it comes across beautifully across the gap of time. When you listen for a while, the scratches just disappear into the background and you hear […]

Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: The Circuitous Path from Bulge to Budget

If tinkers may have leave to live, And bear the sow-skin budget, Then my account I well may, give, And in the stocks avouch it. Autolycus in The Winter’s Tale, Act IV, Sc. III, Shakespeare These lines got me thinking about the town’s finances. Sow-skin budget? What does that mean? And how does that relate to […]

Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: 1927: Ads, Layout and Typography

As promised, here are the first 20 scans of the ads from the 1927 North American Almanac I recently mentioned. If there is interest, I’ll do another set later this week. There are probably another 40 or 50 pages of ads in the book. I think these ads give us a wonderful window into the […]