Saturday, July 11, 2020

Darren’s Dilemma

“This is just what we wanted. It’s perfect for us. The backyard is huge and the walking trails are two minutes away.” Jane was so excited; her husband, Darren wasn’t.
“Honey, it’s so far from my office, and the living room is so small. You wanted a fireplace too.”
“That’s true.” Jane looked deflated.
“Look, let’s sleep on it.  Tomorrow’s another day. We still have two more houses to visit.
Darren woke up refreshed, but Jane never got out of bed. What he did that night was hard, but telling Jane he had lost his job would have been even harder.

Monday, May 18, 2020

“PASSAGE TO PARADISE: HELLENIC SKETCHES OF THE MIND" catapults you into a whirlwind maze of culture and excitement


Yannis Zervos is responsible for birthing the iconic Athens Centre. From its humble beginnings, once known as The Athens Centre of the Arts, his brainchild becomes a remarkable mecca brimming with genius: scholars, actors, musicians, painters, sculptors, poets, philosophers and enlightened esoteric professors who are leaving an indelible mark on humanity. They all have one thing in common: their love of all things Greek, and they have all taught at the Athens Centre at one time or another. Yannis has met them all.

His vast knowledge, charisma and refreshing sincerity, steeped in wit and self-deprecating humor are revealed in this remarkable book. Climbing like Sisyphus, mounting countless theatrical performances, including a huge production of the play, Antigone, with an audience of 1000 at the Macedonian border - never giving up despite calamities of all kinds – he works endlessly to ensure his beloved Athens Centre will survive, thrive, and spread its Greek goodness far beyond Greece itself.  Despite many moments of financial sputtering and political chaos, Yannis succeeds.The  Centre rises to Olympian stature as an international hallmark for Hellenic culture.

The memoir takes you into a close-up personal journey into dozens of countries teeming with brilliant people in the arts, business tycoons, bold entrepreneurs, royalty and rascals alike.  He meets them all. His entire life is surrounded by the rich, the famou,s the fortunate and the eccentric, shadowed by the poor, the unlucky and saintly. Immersed in buzzing labyrinths of meeting, greeting and befriending, he remains both on-looker and go-getter.  His generosity and sociability spill out when he hosts parties at his sublime house in Athens and in his place on the Island of Kea where he keeps his treasured antiques.

The book is ripe with entertaining anecdotes that reveal Yannis’s own trusting nature and skills as he navigates around people’s personalities and solves seemingly impossible situations. His acumen at mounting productions and getting politicians and stars on board is part of his brilliance – which albeit - is sometimes peppered with his own faux pas in the presence of famous people, or a gripping fear that the show won’t go on. We are struck by the author’s ravenous curiosity honed with an ability to size up so astutely different people. Insightful observations and comments abound. Whether it be about people, events. buildings or places, chapters vividly reflect the author's sense of wonder, wit and wisdom.

Yannis Zervos
His knowledge about places is most evident, and the reader is eager to follow this purposeful globetrotter on his immersive visits to places near and far.  Historical facts and architectural gems are revealed to us during his visits to cities and villages – some exotic, others less so. They include, Bangkok, Istanbul, Goa, Cairo, and almost every country in Europe, including the Scandinavian ones, along with cities in Great Britain and in the United States. He travels to these interesting cultural hot spots for personal and professional reasons.   His driving experiences most often turn into calamities that raise the hair on the back of your neck. He’s even ended up in a few police stations. Like Odysseus himself, Yannis is crafty and awfully clever at untangling himself from difficult situations. Honesty and charm seem to beguile those he must confront and convince that it’s all a misunderstanding.
The book reads like a Who’s Who, but most astonishing is the fact that Yannis develops life-long relationships with many of them.  His candid comments - either flattering or disparaging about various individuals, combined with his vivid descriptions of parties - leave us smiling or frowning. We feel we're right there, sharing the cocktails and ouzo with these VIPS that the author so easily mingles with.

 “I have no defined social role or standing and can slip easily into different strata.”
                                                                                                                                      Yannis Zervos

The hilarious and the horrific collide in non-stop events that shape this amazing man’s life. Yannis’s humility, risk-taking and drive to succeed have created his own inexorable destiny where paradise blooms sublimely.

“I conclude that viewing the world and our role in it is better based on verifiable information than blind beliefs, however comforting.”      

“Passage to Paradise:
 Hellenic Sketches of the Mind”


Sunday, May 17, 2020

Maggie’s Skill

It wasn't that Maggie enjoyed playing her skillful game every Tuesday.  It’s just that she couldn't stop
herself from doing it.  The first time she did it, she was eleven – just four months after her mother had died.
Now twenty-two, she was a pro. And even though there were no fans to cheer her on, she didn’t mind.
Still, she missed not being able to brag about it to her friends or show them her trophies. That would be dangerous.
She could easily ply her craft in any city, and at any age.  Maggie was a great shoplifter.

Saturday, May 16, 2020

RED ROVER (Directed by Shane Belcourt)****

A gem of a quirky film that is highly improbably yet somehow probable. David meets Phoebe, a kooky singer who convinces him he really out to try to apply for Red Rover is Calling Out to You, an org searching for contestants willing and able to go to Mars and stay there. David’s ex-girlfriend is living upstairs with a new guy and David is relegated to the basement. He also loses his job. He’s fed up with life. Every day he goes to the beach with his Geiger counter searching for something specific, but we do not know what. We only find out at the end he finds. Phoebe and David are tow opposites. He is a classic nerd geologist and she is a free-spirited artist. She produces the video for him that wins favour with the folks who decide he is perfect to go to Mars. But will he? The ending was a disappointment for me. But l won’t give away the spoiler. Filmed in Toronto, the acting was spacey good.

Thursday, May 7, 2020

Montreal pianist goes live on line to keep his concerts going for his beloved senior home community

Edwin Orion Brownell, a Montreal pianist and international recording artist whose original music is played on radio stations across five continents. He's delighted audiences with live performances in Israel, North Africa, Europe and across North America,, and nothing can stop him during these challenging times because he is  now giving regular evening Facebook Live concerts online. 

Besides performing at Place des Arts and the National Arts Centre, Brownell is always composing. Some of his most stirring work has brought tears to audiences during his  evocative performances at the Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum - just outside of Jerusalem, and at the Ein Gedi Concert Hall - also in Israel. In fact, this gifted pianist has globally graced stages in so many other prestigious concert halls, his concerts that exude stellar technique and passion have earned him international acclaim.

Trained classically, Brownell has recorded six solo classical piano albums and has four chamber music albums of his own works, performing with musicians of the Metropolitan Orchestra. Not one to just play the ivories in just one genre, he is also a well-respected rocker, having played with the members of April Wine, Offenbach, Mahogany Rush and the Guess Who, many of whom guest on his five rock albums.

His own Model A Steinway Concert Grand is featured on all of his latest classical albums, although  his newest album, Mo’Roccan the Blues, features electric instruments and the talents of Jerry Mercer (April Wine), Rob MacDonald (Rob Lutes), Stu Patterson (Jimmy Dogs), Kelly Watling (Big City), Breen LeBoeuf (Offenbach, Celine Dion) and virtuoso harp player Jim Zeller. 

Over the last two decades Brownell has focused on performing solo at retirement homes and geriatric hospitals, and in 2019 gave an average of 14 shows each week at residences in Montreal and Ottawa like Donald Berman Maimonides, Jewish Elder Care, St. Andrews, St. Margarets, the Glebe Centre and others. He loves connecting with seniors and his music is a profound source of healing and comfort to them. At these residences he performs a mix of music including his own classical and rock compositions, romantic classical music, oldies, and jazz, rock and blues standards.  
His live audience members listen in from as far away as Indonesia, Morocco, Israel, Hungary, Latvia, Denmark, the UK, France, Brazil and the United States, and many members of our Health Care team listen to relax after their long shift at work. His first concert has been watched by nearly 3000 viewers, and hundreds tune in each evening to join his online community of love and music. 

Dedicating songs and concerts to those who are fighting or suffering from the virus, Brownell has created a safe space online for people to gather to find strength in community each night. For many, the Corona Concerts are a meaningful and effective way to connect with friends and family to cope with the loneliness caused by the plague afflicting our planet.

              Edwin remains humble; he is a gift to us all!

"I feel blessed to be able to do something meaningful, especially when it is so needed. To be able to bring  people from all around the world together, even when we are forced to be apart, is both a pleasure and an honour."

Read the comments at each concert (links found at the here links at to get an idea of how this has helped people.

Monday, May 4, 2020

THIS IS NOT A MOVIE (Directed by Yung Chang) ****

 Robert Fisk  is a British journalist who writes for numerous newspapers and has published books. He lives in Beirut. he says
 "My job is to record people suffering."
And that is what he's done most of his life.
But this great man doggedly brings to light with passion and commitment all the war-torn regions of the Middle East. This doc starts in the year 1980. Robert is roaming though the streets of Syria, saddled by ravaged bombed buildings made more relevant as bombings and rockets and grenades are heard at the border. He is in Abadan at the Iraqi front lines as the country and Syria pummel one another.

He visits and interviews t a young girl, so many victims of the Al-Nusra at the Syrian border. He digs deep to find facts. In Lebanon, the camera shows all the dead bodies of the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps, killed in a  massacre by Israelis. 1700 civilian's bodies are buried in a shallow embankment.
Robert travels to Bosnia when he finds documents of weapon sales and track down the weapons factory manger whose signature appears in the sale. The tenacious reporter want to find out where these weapons went. Who bought them. He makes a compelling point that even with legal sells that have the end certificate as proof of legality, no one bothers to find out where they are used and when. His reporting of Israel bombing and the rape of the land and usurping of the land lead him to revisit a Palestinian who takes him to see the land he once owned now occupied by Israelis. Some 20 years ago he had interviewed this man, hoping things would change. Robert ends with some grim thoughts: that no matter what is reported, it will never change things, but at least , the world can't say we didn't know. We were never told. Robert says anger increased as he got older and with it came the cynicism of reality. Still, he will never stop telling the truth. And he is not afraid of editors or feeling he must play a football game of interviewing each side, when one is not the perpetrator but the victim. There are few places he has not been when it comes to war. A man obsessed by finding out, his ultimate motivation is to stop the labeling and show that brutality is everywhere.  A great film.Watch and learn!

Friday, May 1, 2020

Anti-Trump animation short about his monstrous homeland policies. It's poignant but lighthearted. It's unfinished

FOWL CROSSING by Nancy Snipper

In need of another president, and an animator!!!
Want to  finish my film? Contact
 Please comment at the bottom of this post.