Friday, May 26, 2017

TACTICS FOR LIVING IN A CULTURE OF VIOLENCE


When the president of the United States demonstrates that it's okay to shove aside another person, no matter how important that person is or how unimportant he is, the message is clear. Even at a NATO meeting, violence is okay. After all, violence is a marker for saying: I only count, and I get what I want and I’ll do anything to get it. After all, what’s pushing? I’ll tell you: it’s a degree of violence. The noble Prime Minister of Montenegro opted not to push back. He’s a non-violent man. (Watch it on YouTube)
The event shows, it’s okay to push a person aside; if it’s even okay to do that at a prestigious NATO meeting, it surely is okay to do it on the street or sidewalk, especially if you want to get ahead – as Trump showed the world.

This infant ignoramus looks like an adult, but he doesn’t act like one. Nor does he string a sentence together without repeating his phrases.

So now that we’ve established that violence comes in many shapes and degrees, let’s chart out a tactic to protect ourselves.

Walk fast and walk with your elbows sticking out. That way, you can elbow someone first before they do you.

Take long strides and wear a look of grave determination on your face.

Carry your pepper spray where it is visible for all to see.

Test it out if you want to on anyone or try your recently purchased taser gun. If the police can do this, why not us? They serve and protect us, so we should do the same for ourselves, right? They're  supposed to set an example, right?

Terrorism is here, and it also exists on the streets of daily life. Watch the behaviour of people. They are blind to others. They have little sense of space, let alone any verbal curtsy or quietness of speech.

 Violence is the new norm. But do yourself a favour. Never allow yourself to get used to it. If you do, you’ve lost your only true weapon: humanity.


Monday, May 22, 2017

ARION BAROQUE ORCHESTRA PERFORMS EXHUBERANTLY IN ALL-VIVALDI CONCERT







Audience in Ecstasy as Enrico Onofri Jump-starts the Musical Joy
  Bourgie Hall, May 21st, 2017

Arion’s closing concert of Vivaldi’s “L’Estro Armonico” was so astounding, the audience could not contain itself.  Vivaldi’s celebrated work brought on applause after applause after applause. 



We were enthralled to hear various segments of this exhilarating masterpiece – specifically no.1, RV 549, No 12, RV 265, No. 8, 108, RV 522, No. 2 RV 578, and No. 9, RV 230. and No. 11, RV 565. Leading the fast and furious passionate pack of musicians was Italian conductor, Enrico Onofri. No stranger to Arion, this violinist has performed before with the ensemble, and has conducted and played all over the world. It’s a sensational experience when Maestro Onofri hits the stage. 


More amazing is the fact that Maestro Onofri rarely turned his back on the audience throughout the program which featured staggeringly difficult but delicious works. Each one offered a minimum of three movements moving gloriously ahead in rhythmic contrasts with dynamic passages of ornamentation, twists, turns and thrilling melodies of harmonic rightness.

Every allegro demanded bionic energy, titanium-like talent spinning speedily in unenviable tempi braced in impeccable clarity and unbridled emotion. The effect was dazzling. The composer’s speedy expressions of fury took off like a galloping stallion. The agility in finger dexterity was remarkable to witness. To accomplish this music, a great variety of moods both subtle and dramatic must fill the soul of each player and be shared in unison as an orchestra.  Arion achieved this. Spritely flirtations, profound sorrows and sublime passages were masterfully communicated due to Arion’s sterling finesse.

The largos and adagios were profoundly moving, even mournful in despair. Such heartfelt sincerity brought us to tears.

This was an evening of great humility where various members of Arion had their moments with Mr. Onofri. So in sync were Arion’s performers with their virtuoso conductor, we took for granted the timing togetherness of the players.


Especially admired was the wondrous flute playing of Claire Guimond, Arion’s artistic director. The two concertos that she performed brought tears to my eyes. Both the A minor with its complexities and the G minor with its sparser yet pretty melodies were accompanied only by a few strings,  being exposed in such a manner requires a true master to pull it off with aplomb. Ms. Guimond gorgeously evoked the delicacy of her instrument with poignancy and power. Her technical brilliance enables her to give remarkable expression to the instrument where breath and fingers agility must work in unison.

Chloe Meyers paired with Mr. Onofri in two works. Each stood at opposite ends facing one another as they played with the harpsichord in between them, with harpsichordist, Hank Knox binding them closer together.  Like two lovers tenderly bidding one another good-bye, the two violinists’ musical connection was inspiring and rare. The audience loved them.

Not much more can be said about the Vivaldi, Arion and Onofri mix. Other than the encore and the endless applause, a standing ovation and the will to not leave without instantly buying a subscription to Arion’s 2017-2018 season.

Vivaldi makes his appearance again with the season’s opening concert on October 5th, 6th and 8th. Titled, “La Double Vie d’ Antonio Vivaldi”, the composer and Arion await you. For all information, call (514) 355-1825. The website is arionbaroque.com.

Note that Arion has just released its 32nd CD! Titled, “Rebelles Baroques”, this remarkable recording features Telemann and Quantz. Pick it up and be transported into a world of godly baroque beauty.





Saturday, May 20, 2017

RIDING THROUGH THE HOOPS OF RYANAIR



Simple question on live chat with Ryanair Will I get a seat if I do not do a pre-selection – which led to will I get on the plane at all even if I did buy one. Which then led to more chats which led to the fact that Ryan Air does not tell you this: when you purchase on line you will have to pay 50 Euros at the airport if you do not come with your boarding pass in hand. After you pay on line you have to go through the check-in process on line to get that boarding pass. Shouldn’t they tell you this after you pay?  Shouldn’t they say: Okay, you’re set but you MUST check in and here is the link to do so.” (But they don’t and many unsuspecting buyers get caught at the airport having to pay .

I think anyone who is using Ryanair for the first time should go on their live chat, and ask away.

The check in must be tricky because there’s even a YouTube link as to how to do it).

No, folks it was only by asking more and more questions that happenstance r0 hours later after asking a simple question that I found this out. And guess what, it is nto as easy as one would think. In fact, it is like a game show: if you make a typo error you have to start from the beginning, and if you do it less than 4 days before boarding you won’t get on – perhaps. Worse still, the gate at the airport announcing your flight with Ryan Air comes up only about an hour beforehand, so do not be late. In fact, the first 100 passengers lining up get their bags on free, but the others many not. They say, you get what you pay for. In the case of Ryan Air you pay but you don’t get. Admittedly, their tickets are darn cheap, but the stress level of knowing if everything is really going to work out for you in the end is not worth it. I’m still debating if I want to purchase my ticket to Chania form Athens with them. It depends if I feel like gambling that day. Be very very careful. Google Complaints with Ryan Air. Good luck! 

 

Thursday, May 18, 2017

BISTRO ON THE AVENUE





Taste Perfection in a Exquisite Setting

It’s rare to find a restaurant whose dishes are so seductively sublime, it’s able to reach the highest calibre of flavour purity. But Bistro on the Avenue has succeeded in doing this. By refusing to compromise on cuisine authenticity, its modern creations attain palette-pleasing paradise without excess. Simply put, you won’t want to eat anywhere else after you enter this den of delicious dishes. Cuisine class cooked with gourmet goodness. That’s what you’ll discover at Bistro on the Avenue.
Opening December 3rd last year – thanks to owner Encan Obana – this remarkable restaurant quickly overtook 30 others – earning the rank of second best in the upscale area of Westmount, Quebec, where it is located.

                                                   Enjoy the glitter
As soon as you enter, you instantly feel special sitting amidst the royal-like Parisian decor. A stunning crystal chandelier glitters overhead, and on the walls - delicate crystal sconces are reflected in the floor to ceiling mirrors. This is neo-classical beauty basking within soft grey walls. Yet there isn’t a trace of pretension here.



A unique team of chefs produce pleasure on your plate
It all starts with the smiling waiters, who carry the spirit of Bistro’s truly caring staff. Most important, the team of four chefs have something so many restaurant chefs don’t: they are all team palette-players; they work together to bring their bi-monthly rotational menu to the peak of taste perfection.
 
Head chef, Bulgarian-born Nelly Nikola, a recent graduate of Montreal’s École de Métier, who has just returned from exploring Costa Rica’s cuisine in a 3-week stint working with the illustrious chef Randy Siles, is constantly on the look-out for freshness in produce, originality and new ideas. “We consult together, so we learn from one another. For example, Columbian talent, Johnny Miranda is a third generation family chef with over 20 years experience cooking all over the world. Our sommelier is from Afghanistan, and of course our Montreal chef inputs tremendously.”

Nelly stressed how much she values local produce. “Each dish we serve is an example of the team’s philosophy.  But locally, choose the main dish and marry the herbs without overwhelming the basic beauty of taste. Everyone has a different palette, so flexibility while maintaining freshness and taste balance is so important. We never mix lots of ingredients in one dish.”

Simplicity Creates Stunning Surprises
My friend and I recently discovered the place while casually strolling along Greene Avenue. I loved the bistro’s elegant interior. Would the food match such beauty?  I had the bacon, caramelized onion with spinach omelette for breakfast, and to date, I have never tasted such a divine omelette. It was thick, not watery or greasy. The melted Gouda cheese was generously applied, yet this omelette was not bulky or overcooked. It was exceptional. My companion ordered the strawberry, banana crepe swarming in warm chocolate, He is a crepe connoisseur, so when he raved it was indeed the finest to ever enter his mouth, I was impressed. We decided to return the following week to try some of the lunch offerings.

Unsurpassable Taste and Texture
We delved into several dishes from the menu. The result?  Never in my life have I ever had such fine tasting food. Bear in mind, I have been sent to France as a food critic, and I can honestly say, what I tasted there can’t compare to the taste pleasure at Bistro. Maybe, it’s because, here, they do not drown the dishes in sauces, and overcook the main staple, hoping perhaps that somehow presentation will supplant essential true-to-taste that Bistro on the Avenue has awesomely mastered.
I ordered the pasta with braised beef; it was mixed with home-made wide Pappardelle pastaVery nice indeed. I also ordered the brisket whose sweetness enhanced the tenderly grilled generous portion of meat. I totally loved the veal picatta. It was flavoured in lemon juice, with white wine, capers, garlic and butter. This was a favourite for me, but it tied with the amazingly brilliant grilled chicken. So tender, so delectable, so perfectly flavoured and delicately balanced in lemon juice. On to another goodie: the shrimp burger. It was a pretty-looking paddy sporting a touch of coriander. Again, another taste bud winner!


I’m a frank food critic, so when I tried to find something wrong with a dish, I couldn’t. Something more to gush over was the service: on both occasions, it was superbly appealing, extremely patient and attentive.


Oh, Sweet Excellence… to sip and savour
Wines galore and so much more… at your table or at the bar. Bistro on the Avenue has a cute, unobtrusive bar at the entrance. It boasts an amazing collection of alcohol (over 36 kinds of vodka to mention just some of the varieties to imbibe) and a wine selection of over 50 international kinds. I had the 2015 Bourgogne Aligoté – a smooth white that harmonized with my shrimp burger; my companion ordered the interesting 2014 red Italian cuvée Ripasso. We ended the meal, sharing a banana crème brûlé, undercoated in delectable melted chocolate. It was deliciously sinful, but I was in heaven!





Every Monday, Bistro on the Avenue features Ladies’ Night with an awesome assortment of martinis. Tuesday nights are all-you-can-eat tartare, and Wednesday is all-you-can eat mussels.



Bistro on the Avenue’s address is:

1362 Greene Ave, Westmount, QC H3Z 2A5


Email them at: info@bistroontheavenue.com



The website is: bistroontheavenue.com


Wednesday, May 10, 2017

The 27th Edition of the St-Ambroise Montreal FRINGE Festival!


Montreal's MainLine Theatre is pleased to announce this year’s St-Ambroise Montreal FRINGE Festival, The shows run from May 29 to June 18. Take your pick of over 800 performances by more than 500 artists in over 20 intimate venues this June. Celebrate quebecois, national and international artists converging in the Plateau Mont-Royal for a multidisciplinary, French and English festival of theatre, music, dance, visual arts and more!

 UNIQUE FRINGE PRINCIPLES
  • No artistic direction. Artists are chosen by lottery or first-apply, first-accepted.
  • No censorship. Artists are uncensored and have complete freedom to present anything.
  • Accessibility to artists. Anyone can apply to the lottery.
  • Accessibility to audience. Ticket prices are capped at $10 and 100% of that ticket price is returned to the artists you see on stage.
“Straight off the heels of hosting the World FRINGE Congress and becoming a finalist for le Grand Prix du Conseil des arts de Montreal, we’re feeling a surge of new attention,” says Executive & Artistic Director Amy Blackmore. “For many years, the FRINGE movement was one of Montreal’s most exciting secrets. Now Montrealers are embracing the spirit of the FRINGE, inspiring them to jump on board with our values of diversity, community and artistic freedom.”


Amy Blackmore

Montreal’s biggest bilingual indie arts party is jam-packed with three programs:
  • FRINGE After Dark (May 29-June 18)
  • FRINGE A-Z (May 31-June 18)
  • FRINGE Park (June 8-18)
FRINGE audiences are encouraged to be adventurous, see a show and write their own reviews. Word-of-mouth is king at the festival, as most artists are premiering new works. Follow the conversation using the hashtag #fringebuzz to uncover this year’s mega hits.

New this year: To deepen the connection with community, Montreal Fringe launched the FRINGE MENU with favourite neighbourhood businesses. Lots of restaurants are in on this Fringe binge.

HISTORY
The first FRINGE Festival was the Edinburgh Festival FRINGE, established in 1947 by a group of eight theatre companies prevented from participating in that year’s Edinburgh Festival. This inspired the creation of Canada’s first FRINGE Festival, the Edmonton FRINGE Festival in 1982. A decade later in 1991, the St-Ambroise Montreal FRINGE Festival was founded on McGill Campus by Kris Kieren and Nick Morra. Over the years, the festival has grown to become an essential cultural variety pack kicking off Montreal’s famed summer festival season.

July 11th is International Fringe Day throughout the world, and so along with  Quebec's 35% French language shows and 35% of Quebec English shows, the rest of the pie is divided up: 15 Canadian shows and 15% international ones. I can hardly wait to feast on the amazing variety of Fringe shows! Thanks to Queen Bee herself, Amy Blackmore for leading us into the greatest Fringe hive ever. 


Monday, May 8, 2017

BON COP, GOOD COP (Alain Desrochers) **


After the fast moving-events of the first film, Martin Ward (Colin Feore) and David Bouchard (Patrick Huard) have gradually grown apart as their lives and careers have taken them in different directions. Ward is now a senior officer with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, and he is sent in to investigate what is going on with a car theft ring. Both buddies are reunited. 
It would seem Feore is the cop that is more violent than his Québécois counterpart.  Both become embroiled in wacky car chases, outing the bad guys and fending off comments made a by a corrupt FBI head who turns out to have a thing against Muslims. Lots of jibes against French Canadians and stuffy anglos. Lousy plot with confusing situations and far too much violence to balance the laughs it attempted to get. Fore was too sentimental in manner, but Huard was as amusing and with-it as Mel Gibson was in “Lethal Weapon”. Loved the first one, but this one was unconvincing and both appeared to know it. They put French subtitles only when Marti spoke in English and other characters. but God forbid, they should be courteous enough to also put English subtitles for french which was mostly spoken in the film. If they want movie to go international, they had better take the enlightened path and incorporate English subtitles.


Wednesday, May 3, 2017

LE FILM DE BAZIN (Directed by Pierre Hébert) **





Lovely in feel, this documentary creates a meditative looks as it presents letters and photographs taken by the filmmaker André Bazin of several old Roman churches in Italy and France. 

 Most were weathered by time or partially destroyed by bombs. Animator Hébert recreates their façades – even placing people walking outside on their grounds. Narrated by Michael Lonsdale, the film project by Basin began in 1958 but it ended that year. Bazin died of leukemia. These points of historical referencing should have had a map on the screen to show the viewer their different locations as each one was examined. As well, the ending of the film was most unclear and jumped topic speaking about Martin Luther King, Hitchcock and the White House. 
 This journey into ecclesiastic monuments, although repetitive in some parts, is most peaceful to the eye.
(Screened at FIFA).