Monday, June 29, 2009

The summer of Jacko

My say on MJ. I'll start by stating the obvious, he was an exceedingly talented boy, and a very screwed-up man. He could sing and he could dance. There were better singers and better dancers, but perhaps not anyone who combined them quite as well as he did. By many accounts, he was a pedophile, addicted to painkillers and plastic surgery and was 500 million dollars in debt. I shudder to think that he was anyone's hero or role-model. He was emblematic of all the excesses of our society; a creature who mirrored the very worst in us, our vanity, our greed, our acquisitiveness, our self-medicating indulgence, our narcissism, our immaturity, even as he sang about love and racial tolerance. In the end, he became our monster, and like all monsters that are really reflections of our worst tendencies, we secretly want to destroy them even as we embrace them. I am saddened. Not for his loss but for the future of his progeny, and for what awaits his three kids too.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Torat Imeinu

My creative, wonderful, egalitarian Reconstructionist shul has done it again, an inspired, history-making initiative called: Torat Imeinu, Our mother's Torah. It has commissioned a Torah written by a soferet, a female scribe, the first in Canada. It's an amazing project in celebration of the synagogue's Jubilee 1960-2010, the third Sefer Torah scribed by Jen Taylor Friedman (the other two are in the US). You can follow Jen's progress and fascinating insights on the process on her blog. And of course, we are inviting everyone's support - you don't have to be a shul member to participate. It's a unique, moving, meaningful and permanent way to honour grandmothers, mothers, daughters, sisters, aunts and entire families. You can sponsor a letter, a name, a favourite verse etc. and it will be acknowledged with a certificate. Be a part of something really special!

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Little Bee by Chris Cleave

I'm feeling a bit more hopeful today, largely because I've just finished Chris Cleave's latest novel Little Bee. This tale of two opposites, an African girl and a British preppy (do they use that term anymore?) who save each other's life has restorative power, and what more can you ask from a work of literature? It is a story about the unlikely places we find refuge and the true meaning of freedom. Cleave is equally skilled at capturing moments of horror (and there are a few devastating scenes) and sheer beauty. Highly recommended.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Damn it...

Maybe I'm in a perpetual state of self-delusion, but in spite of all the evidence I still want to believe that the good guys win in the end. It keeps me going. That's what makes this sad news sting so much. Paul Quarrington is, by all accounts one of the good ones in a game that tends to feature players who are small-minded, petty, jealous egomaniacs, and I'm not just saying so because he blurbed my debut novel and didn't know me from Adam. Generous with his time and energy, humourous, a mentor to the youngsters, and an all around kind fellow, that's the word on the street. My prayers (and those of so many) are with him and his physicians.