Tasty, Healthy, Colorful Food at Siddhartha’s Indian Kitchen

(Our thanks to Alice Zhou, of GraciousHost.ca, for arranging this visit to Siddhartha’s Indian Kitchen, and providing us with these photos.)


Last weekend, it was snowing in Vancouver, perfect for the close of the Olympics! Blanketing the city lightly in white, it’s also become quite chilly over the past few days, so why not go out and have some spicy, tangy Indian food to warm the body?

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Chelsea Hotel is Returning to the Firehall

Chelsea Hotel is Returning to the Firehall

I was very fortunate last year (2013) to see Chelsea Hotel at the Firehall. Anyone familiar with Leonard Cohen’s songs know they tell stories. With a little imagination, you can think of a musical with a narrative inspired and held together by a selection of these songs, and that’s what the play is about. The lead character wants to write a novel, so he checks into the fabled Chelsea Hotel for inspiration.

For background, Leonard Cohen’s Chelsea Hotel song is about an affair with him and Janis Joplin. The Chelsea Hotel is also where Kris Kristofferson (another lover of Janis Joplin) wrote “Me and Bobby McGee”, and where Patti Smith and Robert Mapplethorpe lived for some time, among the many artists who passed through there.


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Review: Hirsch (at the Firehall) – Take 2

Following the informative and insightful review by my colleague, not to mention several others that have appeared in the last day, is there anything more to say about Hirsch, currently playing at the Firehall for the next few nights?

I couldn’t resist. This is one of those plays that has an incredible intensity such that it stays with you for days afterwards, and I had to talk about it too. John Hirsch, as a director, continually went inside the minds of the characters. Mother Courage and Her Children, by Bertold Brecht, tells the incredible suffering caused by war to civilians. Hirsch, in a very moving scene, explains to his actors how they must feel the crushing weight of all the suffering that wars have caused, not to soldiers, but to civilians. But behind that, of course, one cannot help but feel Hirsch’s own civilian suffering as a barely-teenage Holocaust survivor, who suffered the loss (the murders) of his parents, his brother, his grandparents, but somehow himself escaped and subsequently spent the war and the period thereafter with gangs of boys who stole and ran and fled to survive.  

Director Paul Thompson and actor Alon Nashman discuss the legendary John Hirsch.” Continue reading

Festival du Bois in Maillardville, Coquitlam – Accordions, Saws, and More, More, More

Follow the instructions in this post from the Accordion Noir Festival.

Every so often, I find someone who is not aware that accordion music is far, far more than Lawrence Welk (great as he was) and the polka (as thrilling as that dance is). Accordions are cooler than absolute zero right now. They appear in Balkan festivals, mariachi groups, experimental music, and in all the old classic ways too.

Take a listen to Yves Lambert Trio, who are playing this weekend.

Festival du Bois celebrates the francophone community in British Columbia, many of whom settled around Maillardville. For starters (but there’s more):

The festival kicks off on Friday February 28 at Place des Arts with a concert featuring the award-winning Alexis Normand. And it just gets better!

Rendez-vous à Mackin Park on Saturday & Sunday March 1 and 2 2014 pour un weekend de folie with tuneful music, outstanding performances, interactive workshops and much more.

Visitors can also expect to learn more about Maillardville and its village, participate in fun activities, bring back some souvenirs and maple syrup, and indulge their taste buds with delicious tourtière, maple taffy on snow, homemade poutine and other tasty francophone and world fare. Or you can just relax with a beverage and enjoy some great tunes!

The 2014 Chutzpah! Festival presents Hirsch (February 26, 2014)

John Hirsch is a monolith in Canadian theatre. A co-founder of the Manitoba Theatre Centre, he started an establishment that would be a standard-bearer for many regional theatres across North America. Additionally, he was a reputed director, notably serving as the head of television drama with CBC and also as the artistic director for the Stratford festival. However, for all his accomplishments, much like everything cultural that stays in Canada, not many people, including Canadians, have actually heard of him before.

Until recently. Hirsch, which debuted at the 2012 Stratford Festival, is a one-man biographical show which helps to shed light on the character that helped to shape Canadian drama. Performed by Alon Nashman, Hirsch is a collection of vignettes of the life of the title subject. Dramatic, witty, and always active, Nashman brings you into his universe, where he acts both as storyteller and dramatic actor, spinning a tale which recaptures the greatness and humanity of a man who was at turns honored, feared and reviled in acting circles.

(Hirsch, promo video)

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Kombucha vs. Mezcal tasting evening, at O5 Rare Tea Bar (February 23, 2014)

The world of drinks and mixology always has a new surprise up its sleeve; after all, cocktails are just mixtures of various ingredients, one of which has to include alcohol. By now, we should not be surprised when some seemingly random combination that sounds like an incomplete shopping list for folk remedies is passed off as a genius potent potable.

But kombucha and mezcal? One’s a fermented black tea that’s supposed to be an ancient cure-all elixir, the new hipster food to take its rightful place with, ironically enough, bacon and crème brulee beignets. The other is the bastard cousin of tequila, the basement grappa to the Bordeaux of agave. Aside from words that you’d only dream of playing in a game of Scrabble, how could they possibly fit together in the same evening?

O5 Rare Tea Bar

O5 Rare Tea Bar

Very well, actually, as O5 Rare Tea Bar showed us on Sunday evening. O5 routinely puts on interesting events – from various sushi nights or Japanese cultural events to chocolate appreciation to movie nights. Done in their lounge, they have teas on hand to offer to guests, which is perfect to get people to loosen up, relax and just have fun for the night.

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Masterclass with Murray Perahia (Feb. 22, Vancouver School of Music)

The Vancouver Recital Society is well-known for the amazing work it has done bringing wonderfully talented musicians to Vancouver. The acclaimed pianist Murray Perahia, who is playing this concert at the Chan Centre on February 23, did a superlative masterclass with three very young Vancouver pianists (one said his age was 14, and the others must be about the same age). The tickets to attend were an exceedingly reasonable $10–perhaps the best money I have spent all year to hear so much talent in such an intimate venue (Pyatt Hall). 

I won’t focus on the three young pianists, as they are minors, except to say that all three seemed humble and appreciative, but were able to put aside any fears and perform their pieces very well indeed, and respond to suggestions and discussions agreeably and readily. 

The first piece was Chopin’s BALLADE NO. 4 IN F MINOR, OP. 52. I’ve attached a beautiful performance by Zimerman here.

What was most interesting to me is how thoughtful and considered Perahia is about understanding the composer’s intentions. He said that Chopin had written this piece near the end of his life, when he was likely full of disappointments. Perahia pointed out a passage, saying this sounded like pristine and chaste love, but then a while later, it is love that is full of ecstasy. Then, later, the crashing fury. Perahia quoted a teacher who had called this passage “the nearest thing to a murder in music”. 

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The Fascinating Fantastika of Zoran Živković

The mass of cultural output across countries and centuries can feel overwhelming. With a relaxed approach, one can just fish here and there and enjoy what one gets, but a greedy person (such as myself) grasps continually and always regrets what is left unseen, unread, and unheard. I am attempting to move towards contemplative enjoyment and appreciation. 

Thus, when an interview with Zoran Živković popped up in my Facebook feed, I had to decide whether to click on it. I see many more cultural articles just on Facebook than I can read, but fortuitously, I clicked on it. In the interview, Živković describes his literary philosophy, his method of composition, and his thoughts on various subjects. I then read his short story, The Teashop

The interview discusses the fantastika genre, and once I read The Teashop, I could see the parallels to Kafka. (By the way, I recommend the somewhat obscure Danish author, Meir Aaron Goldschmidt, who preceded Kafka and probably was not read by Kafka, but yet manages to sound Kafkaesque.) 

I am now eager to get ahold of some other of Živković’s work. Here’s a list if you want to also. In Escher’s Loops, Živković says, ” I tried to do in fiction what Escher did in his paradoxical weird drawings.” My curiosity is stoked.  

Knowledge Network: The Tipping Points with Bernice Notenboom

Bernice Notenboom is a climate journalist and adventurer. She does things like ski to the North and South Poles, climb Mount Everest, and a host of other challenging physical and mental feats that involve intensive geographical challenges. Her adventures allow her to meet up with climate scientists in remote locations and find out what is happening. Her recent film The Tipping Points combines her adventure travels with climate science investigations.
Trailer: The Tipping Points

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Review: For the Pleasure of Seeing Her Again (York Theatre, Feb. 20)

Do you ever long so intensely to speak to a loved one who has passed on? Can you remember with precision various conversations you have had with her, perhaps where you acted in a manner you regret? Do you wish you could have done something better, something that was not in your power to do for her then–to replay certain moments differently?

These sentiments underlie Michel Tremblay’s For the Pleasure of Seeing Her Again, which serves as a tribute to his imaginative, voluble, expansively emotional, and incredibly loving mother. Like her, he is “melodramatic”.

The play opens by referring to dozens of plays with heroic and royal themes, such as Hamlet, Caligula, King Lear, and so forth. This play is not any of those, the narrator makes clear. Instead, the narrator replays five conversations he had with his mother, from the age of 10 to the age of 20. Some biographical details differ, but clearly Tremblay has a close affinity with the narrator, who sits in his chair while his mother irons, and cooks, and gesticulates, and serves him food and drink, all the while carrying on fascinating conversations with her son.

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