This Week In Art/Culture/Entertainment

By John Swartz

Welcome to my wacky week. My modem died Monday – while I was on the phone to my ISP, no less, and the new one hasn’t arrived. I’m making typos at Creative Nomad Studio in the mean time, so if you spot one, cut some slack this week. I also didn’t realize until I was setting up this page – this is column #150 since SUNonline/Orillia launched.

The Christmas season officially starts Saturday with the annual Christmas Prelude concert by the Orillia Concert Band. There was a warm up event last weekend at Creative Nomad. More on both below. I just figured I should lead with that since the photo at the top has nothing to do with what comes next.

The Author Speaks

Tuesday was St. Andrew’s Day all over the world and in Orillia too. The Orillia Scottish festival folks had a fundraising dinner for 50 people at Creative Nomad with Terry Fallis as the advertised speaker. Bonus we got Fred Addis too. When you need someone to read something like a passage from Leacock, or some other writer, Fred is your guy. He does a great job with character voices and can see the correct pauses to let a funny line sink in for the laughter.

Fred provided a great reading of The Ballad of How MacPherson Held the Floor by Robert Service. Someone commented to me they thought Fred mistakenly located Services’ childhood home of Kilwinning, Scotland on the east coast when in fact it is on the west coast. I listened to what Fred said and he didn’t reference any coast, but he did say Kilwinning was about 20 minutes from Robert Burns’s home as a matter of coincidence.

Fred Addis and Terry Fallis with their parting gifts of Orillia Tartan neckties

When Terry spoke, he did things differently than one would expect an author to do – which is merely read from the latest publication. He did that, but he broke up his remarks into two parts, one before dinner and one during dessert. The front half was about some of the things people like to know, but don’t often get, how’s the writing life, how does he pick his subjects, how much of his life gets into print and that sort of thing.

Terry remarked that his career really started in April 2008 when he won the Leacock Medal for Humour. Well, it actually began before that, but the career took off with the medal. The first book, Best Laid Plans, featured a pair of characters, Daniel and Angus. The latter is the main one, being a Scottish mechanical engineer. They both appeared in Terry’s second book and then not at all in any of the 5 subsequent books – until the recent Operation Angus.

“I didn’t plan to bring back the characters from these first two novels ever again. I thought I was done with them,” Terry said. He drew on his knowledge of all things Parliament Hill, having been on Jean Chretien’s leadership staff, then John Turner’s election campaign team, and then on the staff of the minister of state for sport (which coincidentally, years later, our former Simcoe North MPP, Paul Devillers was the minister of state for sports). “I just didn’t want to get trapped into writing political satire.”

But, he mentioned a fan told him he had done 1000 readings since Best Laid Plans. I’d keep an eye on that fan. Terry brought it up as a way of telling the audience without fail at every reading someone said to him, “nothing will ever top the Best Laid Plans, when is Angus coming back?” Terry said he proved with his other best sellers he can write about other characters and situations beyond the political arena so, “I finally decided, why am I fighting it?”

He also said he likes to use current events in his stories so the plot revolves around our pair caught up in a plot to assassinate the Russian President while he is in Ottawa for a state visit. I don’t know this for sure, but I think all the windows on all the hotels and office buildings around the Hill don’t open, so it likely won’t be a suicide leap with two gunshots to the back of the head.

Along the way our heroes end up in a production of The Nutcracker. This one is straight out of Terry’s life. He explained the Toronto production features celebrities in the minor role of the Cannon Dolls every year (several Maple Leafs, Margaret Atwood and Charles Pachter have made appearances) and in 2019 Terry and his son, Ben, were asked.

“The National Ballet of Canada were clearly scraping the bottom of the celebrity barrel,” Terry said. “When a writer has an experience few other people have, it goes in the next novel.’

Angus is Scottish because Terry read How the Scots Invented the World and other such themed books when he was younger and he and Angus are grammarians.

“(Angus) doesn’t like it (English) should be altered by philistines who make up words like impactful, or like to use the word fulsome incorrectly. It is not a synonym for fuller.” Terry said.

Terry also showed a photo from his Peewee hockey days to back up his political interest lineage. Aside from his twin brother, Tim, on the team, he highlighted another kid, only one other kid, who happens to be Stephen Harper. You now where this is going.

“Even then he was an ardent right winger, but he was also strong on defense,” Terry said.

I know one thing, if I were his coach I might have educated Terry, and Tim, you can’t get a penalty for boarding someone from your own team.

He read from the book at dessert, and you’ll just have to pick up your own copy at Manticore Books to find out how it goes. The chapter I heard was very funny.

Back To the Beginning

So Christmas is a few short weeks away and last Saturday shoppers flooded into Creative Nomad Studios for what Anitta Hamming says is the first annual Christmas Market. She had more than 30 vendors, and there were about 750 people who browsed and bought on Saturday. There wasn’t a count for Sunday when I popped in, but it was busy. Anitta was involved with the Christmas Market which happened at St. James’ Anglican a couple years ago and this was the keeping it going effort.

Christmas Market Xavier Fernandes Display

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This Saturday at St. Paul’s Centre the Orillia Concert Band is doing two concerts, one for the kids at 3:30 p.m. (shorter, tunes they know) (tickets $10 / $5 for under 16) and one for the older kids at 7:30 p.m. (tickets $15) with the usual fare. You can tickets at the Opera House box office in advance, or at the door.

Orillia Concert Band Rehearsal

I re-read my email from the band and they made a point I never thought of before. It’s not just there are people who aren’t comfortable going to public events yet, there are people who can’t go to events like this because we’re still dealing with COVID despite having all the tools available to have ended it by now. St. Paul’s Centre has very good production facilities – including 4 cameras and they are offering live streaming services. People can watch the concerts on the band’s Youtube page.  If you are watching online get a ticket anyway and it will count toward fundraising

The Shorts

  • Craig Mainprize is having a Holiday Soirée Dec. 2 (tonight) at the Lone Wolf Café (10 Matchedash Street South) from 7 p.m. to midnight. Drop by to see his new work.
  • Streets Alive doesn’t rest. Saturday from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Join Leslie Fournier and Deb Halbot for the annual Christmas ornament event at Rustica Pizza – don’t bring your radio face for the photo op. And you may have noticed painted Christmas trees attached to light posts downtown – that’s Street Alive too. If I remember correctly Leslie said there are 48 of them downtown. And speaking of downtown, the Downtown Management Board has some new decorations, the lit trees and deer, plus an archway at the foot of Mississaga and in front of Impression House (for photos)  are new this year. Those are courtesy of a grant for Hydro One. There are also 50 remade baskets hanging from the light posts. Orillia Power, Town’s Jewellers, and Jack and Maddy’s sponsored the displays and the electricity to run it all.
  • Did you get a season ticket here for the Orillia Concert Association’s excellent series. You missed the premiere of Peter Stoll’s concert on the weekend, but was a video production and you still have a little more than three weeks to watch it. You’ll get the details how when you get your ticket. It’s only $70 and I dare you to find a better deal to see four concerts of this type anywhere. Four, you say? The first in person concert of the series is February 20 with Sonic Escape (Maria Millar, violin and Shawn Wyckoff, flute) at St. Andrew’s, followed by the Hog Town Brass March 27  at the Opera House. The final concert is May 1 with the Toronto All Star Big Band.
  • The Orillia Silver Band’s Christmas concert happens Dec. 12 at the Opera House. They have Jazzamatazz as their guests. If you saw them at the Jazz Festival you know they were stupendous. The band’s not too shabby either. In fact, you might be getting tired of me saying they are one of the best performance ensembles I’ve seen. Get tickets at the box office.
  • At the Opera House…   Barrie’s Theatre By The Bay is bringing a production called Revival to the Opera House Dec. 18… Not really a Christmas thing, the Music of the Night happens Dec. 11. All tickets are available at the box office online.
  • You can still catch last week’s Orillia Regional Arts and Heritage Awards program on OMAH’s Youtube channel.
  • Quayle’s Brewery (12th Line of Oro-Medonte just off Mt. St. Louis Road) is having a Christmas Market Nov. 27 and 28, and Dec. 4 and 5.
  • The 7th annual Ugly Sweater Bowling Party happens at Orillia Bowl Dec. 17. There are only a few lanes left to reserve. The beneficiary this year is the Sharing Place Food Bank. Register here.
  • The Lighthouse has a fundraising concert with the Steel Horse Gypsies (New Moon Junction opens) Dec. 11 at St. Paul’s Centre. Tickets are a $20 donation, or you can go to the Lighthouse website and pick items to donate instead from their wish list.
  • Music… Fionn MacCool’s has Elizabeth Anderson playing Dec. 9; Olivia Duck and Michael Martyn are in Dec. 10; Even Steven is in Dec. 17… The Hog ‘N Penny has Jakob Pearce playing Saturday night; Sam Johnson is in Dec. 11; Thursday nights it’s trivia time at 7:30 p.m. … Zachary Lucky is doing two shows Jan. 14 and 15 at Picnic Snackbar; get tickets here.
  • At the galleries… Hibernation Arts opened new space in the shop, in the basement, the show is called Underground Art; also see this month’s featured artist, Norman Robert Catchpole’s work – the show opens Saturday from noon to 3 p.m. – and see the exhibit called Mary Rose Matted Art which is small, $20 pieces with proceeds going to the bursary fund in Mary’s name; Dec. 9 Dennis Rizzo is in to read form three books he’s published ($10 at 7 p.m.) – A Short History of Orillia and both the Mariposa Exposed volumes; Dec. 16 Alex Andrews is in to play at 7 p.m. ($20)… Julia Veenstra’s solo show at Cloud Gallery  opens Dec. 3 (tickets – free) and Kyle Sorenson’s happens Dec. 10 … OMAH has the fantastic, annual Carmichael Canadian Landscape Exhibition  and a stunning exhibit of portraits by D. Ahsén:nase Douglas you have to see… Dave Beckett has a show at Tiffin’s Creative Centre opening Saturday at 10. a.m. … the Arts District Galleries are having an Art Hop Dec. 11.

(Photos by Swartz – SUNonline/Orillia and Images Supplied) Main: John Emberson at Creative Nomad Studio’s Christmas Market

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