Archive for March, 2009

Ben Viccari’s Canscene

Monday, March 2nd, 2009

Vol 9, No. 3 March 2009

Obama/Harper smiles

Monday, March 2nd, 2009

(Canscene) — By now, we have all been subjected to a multitude of interpretations of the significance of President Obama’s visit to Canada.

Of one thing we my be certain and here’s where TV doesn’t lie: and that is the paleness of as our Prime Minister’s presence, smiling and waving feebly beside the beaming, waving President Obama..

Follow this up with the Harper visit to New York and we meet the same apparent reluctance to display warmth and geniality. Even Harper’s predecessors, Preston Manning and Stockwell Day managed bigger smiles.

While it seems we can never expect Stephen Harper’s personality to break into charisma, may we humbly suggest that in the absolute privacy of his sanctum, the PMO, he smuggles in a drama coach?


Sharia a touchstone for debate

Monday, March 2nd, 2009

shariaquran(Canscene) –Personally, I have no objection to how Muslim women, or for that matter, women or men from any other social, religious or ethnic group choose to dress.

Whether it’s a hijab, a yarmulka, a turban or a burqua: dress is a matter of individual choice and under our Charter of Rights and Freedoms is perfectly legal.

But dress should not be governed by laws other than those established by Canada and so practiced in Canadian courts.

In an OMNI-funded television documentary, already aired but we may be sure, to be repeated several times, Raheel Raza, well-known journalist and community activist and no stranger to debate. has produced and directed Whose Sharia is it Anyway? The film investigates the question of admitting sharia law into our courts. (more…)

Family Day 2009 a real hit

Monday, March 2nd, 2009

family-day-can(Canscene) — One of the less felicitious of media concoctions was the apparent sudden discovery that the recent Ontario Family Day, February 16 was a disaster for small business.
The province suffered from headline overkill.

Yet that same day and the day after, television showed hordes (yes, hordes) of families visiting the Toronto Zoo, the ROM, the Science Centre and other places of interest. It was quite obvious that Family Day was a hit.

Let us not forget that Family Day was conceived out of a wish expressed across Canada that there should be a statutory midwinter holiday. The obvious date would have been February 15, the anniversary of the raising of our own flag in 1965. But according to Heritage Canada there were too many obstacles to such a national holiday.

One can scarcely blame Dalton McGuinty for making a midwinter holiday an Ontario election issue at a time when the follies of the Bush administration had not been fully revealed and the debt crisis hadn’t yet threatened the economy of the whole world.

We may be sure that Premier Mc Guinty will take steps to avoid further suffering on the part of small business proprietors, but it would be sheer madness to throw the baby out with the bath water and cancel the celebration, so long coveted by a nation and finally activated by a government that believed at least, Ontarians deserved it.


Progress of Losode

Monday, March 2nd, 2009

(Canscene) — Since last month, when I announced the founding of Losode, a non-profit web site, my colleagues and I have uncovered a number of interesting facts about the availability of low sodium and no sodium foods in Canada.

If you’re interested in a balanced diet that looks seriously at the presence of salt in what we eat and drink and considers the advice of many medical experts that an excessive intake of salt can lead to cardiac problems, especially strokes, please feel free to check out our web site at

Woollcott remembered

Monday, March 2nd, 2009

180px-woollcott-1(Canscene) — When I’m in between books scheduled to be read for their serious content or as mere time-wasters, I frequently turn to two tattered paperback anthologies of writings by Alexander Woollcott, chronicler of his times — the 30s and early 40s– and also raconteur of times and crimes of an earlier past.

The books are While Rome Burns, published in 1933 and Long, Long Ago, published posthumously in 1943.

This last reading, Woollcott turned me on to two great movies which fortunately I possess on DVD: Noel Coward’s World War II sea epic and Hitchcock’s The Lady Vanishes.

The first piece was a paean of praise for In Which Se Serve, which was the story of a destroyer and its dedicated captain, written and played by Coward. The astonishing Coward and co-director David Lean brought me back to those wartime days and the combination of comedy and tragedy experienced by those at home and those in the fighting forces and made us all part of the same effort to survive and conquer.

The second was that time honoured legend of a young woman’s mother disappearing without a trace during the World Exposition in Paris. We jump several decades to Ethel Lina White’s novel The Wheel Spins which as a film became one of Hitchcock’s finest comedy dramas with an elderly woman disappearing on board a train in Europe and the efforts of a young Englishwoman to prove her existence. It’s entirely possible that Ms. White had read Woollcott’s story. (more…)

Famed German musician to give concert with Kuerti

Monday, March 2nd, 2009

Famed German musician joins Canada’s Kuerti for March concert
(Canscene) — German pianist and violinist Kolja Lessing, who has won awards and international acclaim for performances and recordings on both instruments, makes his Toronto debut at Mooredale Concerts, Sunday, March 22, 3 p.m.  He joins Artistic Director, pianist Anton Kuerti, in a program of solos and duos at Walter Hall, in the Edward Johnson Building, 80 Queen’s Park Crescent (south of the ROM; Museum subway).  Tickets are $25; $20 seniors and students.  For tickets or information, call 416-922-3714, extension 103, or visit

Terse verse

Monday, March 2nd, 2009

Terse verse
(Canscene) –From my boyhood and youth: four pieces of doggerel which recently have come to mind unbidden

Al Capone, Al Capone
To whom the law is fol-de-rol
Isn’t it time you changed your name
From Al Capone to Al Cohol?

Boy, pliers.
Electric wires.
Blue flashes,
Boy ashes

A fly and a flea in a flue
Were imprisoned, so what did they do?
Said the fly “let us flee,”
Said the flea “let us fly”
And they flew through a flaw in the flue.

Can you think of any
Reason why Jack Benny
Should play Charley’s Aunt?
I can’t.

The first three are from boys’ papers, the fourth from legendary and witty British film critic Caroline Lejeune who’d frequently comment on movies she didn’t like with a bit of verse.

CEMA awards announced

Monday, March 2nd, 2009

(Canscene) –Once again, Canadian Ethnic Media Association ( CEMA) will make awards to journalists for their work in the following juried categories: print, radio, television and internet

The awards will be presented at a gala event on Friday June 26 and entries are now being accepted. Deadline for receipt by CEMA is April 30. The entries will then be judged by qualified persons who are not CEMA members.

The contest is open to all journalists who have not previously won CEMA awards for two or more times.

Rules and regulations and an entry form may be found at the CEMA website <>

The last word

Monday, March 2nd, 2009

Customers of the Irish no-frills carrier might have to fork out £1 to “spend a penny” on flights, Ryanair’s chief executive Michael O’Leary said. Was he joking or serious?

If taken seriously, the price of a “pumpship,” as James Joyce’s characters termed the natural bodily function of a nation which institutionalized the immortal beverage known as stout could:

(1) either deter travellers from pre-flight drinking, causing widespread unemployment at pubs and airport bars.
(2) cause a life-threatening stampede after the plane lands.
(3) place an unpleasant onus upon airway sanitation workers.