Archive for April, 2009

Ben Viccari’s Canscene

Wednesday, April 1st, 2009

Vol. 9 No 4 — April, 2009

Advisory

Wednesday, April 1st, 2009

You may reprint any item appearing in this blog with credit to Canscene and if applicable, also to the author of a signed article. The publisher wishes to inform you that any opinions expressed in articles from sources outside Canscene do not necessarily represent Ben Viccari’s own thoughts or opinions.

Mimmo Sisca’s legacy

Wednesday, April 1st, 2009

(Canscene) — Unfortunately, it’s still fashionable among some Italian-Canadians to look at those of us of southern heritage as a sub-species. This applies especially to people from the region of Calabria which runs down to the toe of the Italian boot, about whom there seem to be as many jokes as those levelled at “Newfies.”

One only has to look at the life story of the late Domenico Sisca, or Mimmo as he was fondly known by his many friends and customers to find the true Calabrese spirit that has brought success and a place in the sun to so many immigrants from that region. More »

Sprockets 12th edition operns this month

Wednesday, April 1st, 2009

(Canscene) — Sprockets Toronto International Film Festival for Children opens on the 18th of this month and will run until April 24th.

Now in its 12th annual edition, this event, created by the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) has scheduled 70 films from 22 countries. Forty-one are shorts ranging from animation to live action.

Of the 29 feature length films, from Finland comes the feature Stormheart, about a prodigiously large dog who is manageable only by a nine-year-old and from Sri Lanka, King Siri, the story of a poor village boy whose talent leads him to enrollment in a Colombo school and a struggle to find money for an elaborate costume for a school play.

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From Breakout series — Photo by Lalita Krishna

Far more than just showing films appealing to children there are a number of interactive programs. such as Breakout scheduled for Monday April 20 and Tuesday April 21. This will feature a selection from the series of five-minute shorts directed and filmed by Lalita Krishna for CBC encouraging youngsters to think globally and act locally. Each day, there will be a panel discussion on the shorts shown. Krishna’s feature length documentary Move Your World won the audience choice award at the 2006 festival.

Full details of ways in which tickets may be purchased plus a schedule of films may be obtained from the official web site at www.sprockets.ca. Telephone: 416 908-3450.

April 1 news flash

Wednesday, April 1st, 2009

(Canscene) — This just in
News release from the Happy to  be Bald Association (HTBBA)
April 1, 2009………. Andrew Spelato, president of the HTBBA today  confirmed that Canadian Prime Minister wears a wig.

harper-spelatoSpelato is the descendant of the famous Spelato wigmaking family of Culo di Cavallo, near Florence who have counted among their clientele Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, King George III of England and Sarah Bernhardt. Andrew Spelato migrated from Italy to Hollywood where he earned the sobriquet “Rugmaker to the Stars.”  Himself bald like his ancestors, Spelato one day decided to make a wig for himself, but on donning the hairpiece the sight of himself in the mirror turned him away from his craft and into the manufacture of sunblock for bald heads. His auto-biography, Hollywood Uncovered, telling  tales and naming names became a New York Times bestseller. he subsequently founded the HTBBA, which has some  380,000 members worldwide.

“For some years,” said Spelato, “I marvelled at the way Stephen Harper’s hair always had that same untouched look , like a sculpture and knew it was a wig but there was no way to prove what the Prime Minister’s Office was denying until one night last month, during a sudden security alarm at 26 Sussex Drive , the Prime Minister rose from his bed and dashed downstairs to learn from security guards that  this was no more than a false alarm. One of the guards, an HTBBA member, happened to have his digital camera with him and managed to get this shot which I herewith attach. Now the world knows the truth.”

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The sport that kills

Wednesday, April 1st, 2009

(Canscene) — I’m not easily shocked but a recent announcement by the Canadian Shooting Sports Association did remind me of the evil that lurks amongst us. Garry Breitkreuz, a Saskatchewan Member of Parliament would present a draw prize of a Beretta semi-automatic handgun at the association’s annual dinner in Toronto.

This surprise announcement raised the hackles of chiefs of police across Canada and caused the Prime Minister and members of his government to run for cover.

Breitkreuz will not attend the dinner and furthermore will not present his private member’s bill to end Canada’s gun registry.

But the damage has been done and compounds such suspicious official actions as Prime Minister Harper’s recent speech to the far right Manning Institute, a western enclave of Tory ideology. And since disciplining Breitkreuz the government has issued its own challenge to gun registry legislation.

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Lola Montes returns, triumphant

Wednesday, April 1st, 2009

(Canscene) — What’s the difference between a courtesan and a prostitute? That depends, but Eliza Gilbert was no fifty dollar hooker. Neither was she your run-of-the-mill courtesan.

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Martine Carole as Lola

Born into a British army family stationed in India, she was sent to England to be schooled and proved a rebellious, unruly child in the home of her aunt. In her teens she severed her connections with family and targeted a stage career as a Spanish dancer; hence the adoption of the name Lola Montez

After a disastrous marriage at 16 to a sadistic drunk Lola did her best to perform as a dancer without any great success. But her real talent was in choosing male companions of stature in society, including composer Franz Liszt and King Ludwig I of Bavaria

Lola’s fascinating story was told by the German film director Max Ophuls who placed it in a circus setting with Martine Carole as an impoverished Lola performing for brash ringmaster Peter Ustinov. The film opens in the circus ring with Ustinov at 34 still slim enough to traverse the ring with an almost serpentine grace as he touts the scandals of Lola. The film, made in France bears the French surname Montes, instead of Montez.

Behind Lola are her great adventures with lovers like Liszt and Ludwig I, the latter almost costing both her and the king their lives. Scenes alternate between the circus where myth holds sway and the reality showing us Lola’s moody relationships with the men in her life. More »

Passchendaele vs. All Quiet

Wednesday, April 1st, 2009

(Canscene) –The dreamers who tell you that the Canadian spirit was forged at Vimy and Passchendaele forget that this was in a war that should never have begun, a war that satisfied he imperial dreams of monarchs such as Kaiser Wilhelm, Tsar Nicholas and King George of England thus drawing in 600,000 Canadian volunteers who remained British subjects in spite of their places of birth.

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Passchendaele: A sea of mud
For the rank and file who fought it, this was not the picnic they thought it was going to be. More »

Passing the buck

Wednesday, April 1st, 2009

Passing the Buck
(Canscene) Last month, Prime Minister Harper spoke at a fundraiser for Preston Manning’s think tank: the Manning Institute. The event was not announced to the media possibly since Harper was smiling on Manning, the unregenerate ideologue I once heard question our Charter of Rights and Multicultural Act. Nevertheless, the news got out.

Harper had some harsh words for the Liberals. He painted them with the same socialistic brush that the Republican Party of the United States uses to label all small “l” liberals. A Toronto Star editorial was highly critical of the speech.

Here’s the letter Ben Viccari wrote to the editor of the Toronto Star, which was published March 20. More »

British councils abhor buzzwords, phrases

Wednesday, April 1st, 2009

British councils abhor buzz words, phrases
(Canscene) — The Australian Broadcasting Corporation blog recently published this Reuters piece which should make all lovers of English shudder. Hope you agree with me that they should vanish along with overblown executive bonuses:

Fed up with the babble, waffle and impenetrable jargon beloved of politicians and middle-managers, Britain’s local government association has drawn up a list of 200 words it wants public bodies to avoid if they are to communicate properly.

Gone should be terms or phrases such as “cascading” (sending an e-mail around), “menu of options” (choices) and “predictors of beaconicity” (?), and in comes straight talk. More »

Lovable lunatics

Wednesday, April 1st, 2009

(Canscene) — With the moving image becoming the greatest new art form of the last century, genres from straightforward dramas to film noir to situation comedy grew. One of the lowest of these growths was what I choose to call lunatic comedy as opposed to slapstick, Chaplinsque, screwball.

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Four lovable lunatics named Marx

The lunacy that is to be found in Marx Brothers and W.C. Fields films plus Jimmy Durante performances in some otherwise routine comedies make up the main body of lunacy in films. Bert Lahr’s Cowardly Lion in the Wizard of Oz alone had this lunatic element while the other characters played their roles superbly in the greatest of all stories which adults still admire and enjoy.

Who can forget Groucho, Harpo and Chico coping with a increasingly crowded ship’s cabin?

Or changing musical scores so that the opera orchestra breaks out into Take me Out to the Ball game? Or Bill Fields driving the“pregnant” woman to hospital, the while snarling at every impediment from pedestrian to other vehicles? And his farewell from no known source ”See ya’ in the Grampian Hills.”

And that maniac glint in Schnozzola’s eyes as he rendered Inka Dinka Doo and I’m the Guy Who Found the Lost Chord. Or his performance as Banjo in the filmed Man Who Came to Dinner.

So long guys. For me at 90, the Grampian Hills can’t be so far away. See ya’!
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