Posted: June 3, 2016 in Personal

I was thinking of writing a post about this myself, but I can’t say it any better than my friend here, so I will let her say it. Good read.

Heart Murmurs

Venom and vitriol. All over my news feed. All over the tv news. All over the internet.


The reason?

A silverback gorilla was shot by zoo staff after a 4-year old child managed to get into the enclosure. I’m sure you’ve seen the story and perhaps seen the video footage of the child’s foot in the grip of the 450lb ape.

Let me just get something straight here before I hop up on my little soap box.

I love animals.

I love animals and always have. I have been fascinated and enthralled by Jane Goodall’s life story since childhood. I read every book in the library about Jane. I also read every book that I could get my hands on about dolphins, sharks, whales and other marine creatures. I imagined tramping through jungles, as Goodall had, chronicling and re-defining what we know about animals. I dreamed about animal research…

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Headed for the Big Apple

Posted: April 15, 2016 in Personal

My new friend Jennifer Cornish is headed to New York, New York in September to participate in  “United Solo” the world’s largest solo theatre festival. If you’re not sure that you can make it to the festival in the Big Apple this fall, or even if you know you can make it, remember that you can preview this wonderful talent in Fergus this month in “Shirley Valentine.”

Tickets HERE.


One Shirley, Two Actors

Posted: April 12, 2016 in Art, Theatre

I know… it’s been a while. But hey, when life does give you a few minutes to yourself – parking in front of the computer is rarely what you want to do as “down time”; so the blog stays idle until there’s a compelling reason to post something. Well, something has come up… so, here you go.

I’m sure many of you have seen, or have at least heard about, the movie Shirley Valentine. Before it was made into a movie in 1989, it was an amazing play written by Willy Russell. Starting the last Tuesday in April, 4thWall Productions will be staging a production of Russell’s play and they have invited me to design the soundscape for it. It’s what is sometimes referred to “in the biz” as a one-hander, which means there’s only one actor on stage for the whole play.

That’s one actor, delivering all the lines, for two hours, every show. And when there are two shows a day for five days in a row, that’s a lot of work; especially if, like most actors in Canada, you need to hold down a part-time or even a full time job just to pay the bills. Add in the kids, and soccer/hockey, and… well, you get the idea. What’s the solution? Before I answer that question, let me tell you a little about Shirley Valentine in case you are among the uninitiated.

Shirley is in a place a lot of us find ourselves at one point or another. She’s in her forties, her two kids have moved on, the bloom has fallen off the romance with her husband and when she takes the time to sit down and have a glass of wine and think about it, she’s saddened by the fact that life is not what she imagined it would be. She wonders where it all went sideways and what happened to all the dreams she had when she was younger. So she goes looking for them and also discovers, as a wise Greek philosopher once put it, “Dreams are never where you expect them to be.”dreams

So what happens? Well, that would be telling now, wouldn’t it?

But, back the solution: as my title suggests, the trick is one Shirley, but two actors! You get two people to share the role, trading off one performance to the next. In this case that also means two Jennifers; first, my good friend Jennifer Barson, whom I’ve enjoyed working with a number of times, and second, my new friend Jennifer Cornish, whom I certainly hope to work with again. Two great actors sharing one tremendous role to the delight of all. It’s a remarkable thing to watch them work. Same story, same dialog, same blocking, but, in a manner of speaking, two great plays. You may have to come see it twice!

So this is my invitation to you my faithful reader, to make your way to the Fergus Grand Theatre in, of all places, Fergus, Ontario and take in a remarkable show. Grab a date and enjoy an evening show together, or round up the book club and grab a matinée. It all starts on Tuesday, April 26th and runs two performances a day (2pm and 8pm) through to April 30th. Tickets are just $25.

To buy tickets online… CLICK HERE!


At first I thought I might write my own blogpost along these lines lines; but I couldn’t think of a better way to say t, so… here.

john pavlovitz

share food

I live just down the street from a very conservative Southern Baptist seminary.

I often sit at the nearby coffee shop and just observe people, listening as the conversations waft in and out of earshot. (Okay, so technically it’s eavesdropping but I’m currently repenting of it.)

Today as I walked up the sidewalk I could hear a man probably fifteen to twenty years younger than me at an outdoor table, lecturing two other people about God and heresy and “Truth”.

I sat and sort of marveled at him. He was so confident in his youth; so sure of himself, so authoritative, so ready with answers, his theology so fixed and unwavering.

(He reminded me a lot of someone.)

I remember that place well. Sometimes I really miss it.

Life was so much easier then, yet it’s a place I’m glad I no longer live.

I feel more vulnerable here. The lack of certainty is…

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33 1/3 Anniversary Pictures

Posted: December 2, 2015 in Personal

Our Anniversary Cake

A few weeks ago Roberta and I celebrated our 33 1/3 Wedding Anniversary with a “Bring Your Own Vinyl” party.

For those who were there (and anyone else who might be interested) here’s a link to the online album with our pick of the pictures that were taken that night. Our thanks to Denise Zimmer for providing us with these digital memories.

Our Party Pictures Album (LINK)

Gearing Up for The Next Ride

Posted: December 2, 2015 in Personal

I was reading yesterday, from a number of sources, about the start of human trials for what they hope will be an anti-aging drug called metformin. Apparently the work they’ve been doing on mice and roundworms has resulted in the little critters living 40% longer. Not only that but they were healthier and “friskier” too (read, still getting it on with other mice and roundworms.)  [UK Telegram Article] If the human trials, with volunteers in their 70s and 80s, yield similar results we could see average human lifespans in the 110s or even the 120s.

This got me thinking; and not about the greater ramifications for society as a whole (and there are plenty of things to consider there). My top-of-mind question is more personal… what’s the use of living to see 120 years if the last 60 of them are spent riddled with cancer?

I know, I’m such a downer. Living longer should be a good thing, why spoil the party with cancer? Well, the problem is I’ve just seen too much of it. In the last 18 months I’ve been to 9 funerals, and there were 4  more I couldn’t bring myself to go to because it is just too painful out-living my friends. Most of them, not all, but most of them died of cancer or related complications. So my question holds… why live for 120 years if cancer is going to make it a life barely worth living?

Those of you who know me have likely figured out where I’m going. Even those who don’t can imagine what’s next, and I’m making no apologies for it. Yesterday was “Giving Tuesday” that recently created annual event designed to help us feel less guilty about how much we spent on Black Friday and Cyber Monday. What better day to launch my efforts for the 2016 Enbridge Ride to Conquer Cancer; the annual 200km cycling fundraiser for Cancer Research at the Princess Margaret in Toronto. However, yesterday got very busy with broken ovens and appliance shopping so you’re getting this today instead.

RTCC 2015 t-shirt

The 2015 Team t-shirt containing the names of people with cancer we are riding for; living and deceased.

I’ve been with the Ride since the beginning in 2007. I started riding because there’s a huge history of cancer in my family; my Dad died of it when he was 56, as did his father, my brother lost an arm to it while he was in high school. And the number of friends I’ve seen impacted by it could fill a t-shirt, literally (see pic at right). So I started riding, the first year on my own, in later years with Team Kortright, a great bunch of people who care as much or more than I do. Some of them are cancer survivors themselves, all of us have friends and family on the t-shirt. And so, the Ride Continues!

Many of you already know about the Ride To Conquer Cancer. You’ve been with me through my personal cancer story and you’ve supported Team Kortright and I in the past. You know who you are and once again – I Thank You! If you intend to support the cause again this time around may I suggest clicking on the link at the end of this post and get that donation in now so it counts toward your 2015 tax receipts!

If you don’t know me or we’ve only just recently met, then here’s the Reader’s Digest® version of the story.

In October of 2010 I was diagnosed a branchial cyst in my neck. After it was removed a biopsy lead to the discovery of cancer in my tonsils. That was the year the Ride became even more personal. After 1 surgery, 37 radiation treatments, 5 years of check-ups without re-emergence, and a whole lot of support from whole lot of people I was declared cancer free and cut loose from the process in June of this year. I was 56 when I was diagnosed (same age as my father was); now I’m 61 and if what my father told me just before he passed is accurate then I am now the longest living male in my direct line – ever. I bear that distinction because unlike previous generations, mine is the first to have access to the treatments and technology needed to beat cancer—at least sometimes. I thank God and an army of researchers that I live in more advanced times.

I was fortunate that we caught my cancer so early and treatment was so successful! But there’s still a lot of work to do, the nine funerals testify to that. So I’m asking you again this year to help me continue the fight to Conquer Cancer, in all its forms. Click on the link below and make a donation. You’ll also find a link to the Team Kortright page so you can support the other members of the team. Do it before New Year’s and you’ll get a receipt against your 2015 taxes (after New Years you’ll still get a receipt but for next year ‘natch).

If you can’t right now, I fully understand. No worries, we have lots of opportunities to donate planned. (#fair_warning).

There’s also a link where you can join Team Kortright and ride with us. If you are so inclined we would love to have you join us. Share your story, share the Ride, and share in the adventure.

Thanks Everyone!

Donate to my Ride to Conquer Cancer campaign by foll0wing this link.



Je Suis Charlie

Posted: January 8, 2015 in Current Events, Personal, Society
Tags: ,

Yes, I am Charlie! We all are.

The massacre at the offices of Charlie Hebdo (translation: Charlie Weekly; named for Charles Shultz’s iconic everyman) is not just about freedom of the press; it’s about the right of every person to live free and say what’s on their minds without fear!

It’s also about art; specifically, the art of satire. Since the earliest days of human civilization the number one sign of a tyrannical government, administration, monarchy or any other form of leadership is the suppression of criticism. Even Emperor Nero, for all his many faults would pardon the satirists in advance of their performance so they could present their art without fear of not living long enough to get to their next gig.  In fact, the Muslim author, Al-Jahiz, introduced satire into Islamic texts “based on the premise that, however serious the subject under review, it could be made more interesting and thus achieve greater effect, if only one leavened the lump of solemnity by the insertion of a few amusing anecdotes or by the throwing out of some witty or paradoxical observations. ” [1]

So it affects us all; even more so in our new digital, media-enhanced society because so many of us have become publishers of our opinions. For example; I have this blog. I do not have a huge following (according to the stats my largest audience for any given post was 76— not even enough circulation to get Google Ads interested), but as cathartic and/or narcissistic an exercise it may be, in a free society I have the right to express myself here, in this way, without fear of violence to my person.

So do you when you post to your Facebook page, or throw that inappropriate selfie up on Instagram, or even share you Grandmother’s recipe for pork roll ups on Yummly. We are all publishers in one way or another and it is freedom of speech that allows us to do so.

However, freedom of speech does sometimes bite us in the ass. The same freedom that lets us share what is important to us allows others to share what we would consider offensive. The problem is, if we pass laws that prevent the offensive, idiotic, bigots from having their say then that same law can one day be turned around and used to shut us up as well. It’s why I oppose hate speech legislation. As Evelyn B. Hall expressed on behalf of Voltaire, “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.” [2]

Je-suis-CharlieSo for the next few days I’ve changed my profile pic and cover photo on Facebook to reflect my grief at the slaughter of four cartoonists and their co-workers in France. I’m no satirist, or even really an author, but I have an opinion and I value the right my society gives me to express it.

Je suis Charlie.


[1] Bosworth, Clifford Edmund (1976), The Mediaeval Islamic Underworld: The Banu Sasan in Arabic Society and Literature, Brill Publishers, ISBN 90-04-04392-6.

[2] Right now many of you are fuming, “That was Voltaire!” But actually it was one of his biographers Evelyn Beatrice Hall who wrote the line as an example of Voltaire’s beliefs. It’s been miss-attributed to him ever since.