September 29, 2016

MAKE Coffee + Stuff ~ in Winnipeg

MAKE is a small coffee shop on Corydon in Winnipeg. It is quiet and minimalist, and best suited to those drinking coffee by themselves. Alone.

Seating is uncomfortable at best, but there are many electrical outlets for laptops and other devices.

It was opened with the desire to offer an espresso bar plus a venue for design exhibition and retail. "MAKE seeks to provide an opportunity for the public to engage with the profession of design."

MAKE / Coffee + Stuff Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

So it's not a place to meet as a group. It is a quiet, unadorned space in which to work, and to enjoy coffee and tea. And in that it succeeds nicely.

Photos by Jeem. Copyright 2016 by Jim Murray.

September 28, 2016

After the debate... John Steinbeck has the perfect comment

After enduring the painful presidential debate last night between the two most unpopular candidates to run for America's highest office since polling began...  and thinking: Is this what passes for democracy in the Excited States? Is this the result of the bold experiment promised by John Kennedy, the goal of democracy for all the world's peoples? Donald Trump? Really?

I was reminded of a quote found in John Steinbeck's Cannery Row:

"It has always seemed strange to me...The things we admire in men, kindness and generosity, openness, honesty, understanding and feeling, are the concomitants of failure in our system. And those traits we detest, sharpness, greed, acquisitiveness, meanness, egotism and self-interest, are the traits of success. And while men admire the quality of the first they love the produce of the second."

When money becomes everything in politics, when celebrity becomes something to emulate in our society, and when both are rewarded generously, should we be surprised by what is happening in America today?

Steinbeck was the author of 27 books, including 16 novels, six non-fiction books, and five collections of short stories. His books include Cannery Row (1945), East of Eden (1952), Of Mice and Men (1937) and the Pulitzer Prize-winning The Grapes of Wrath (1939).

Copyright 2016 by Jim Murray.

September 26, 2016

Arabesque Hookah Cafe ~ in Winnipeg

In the Osborne & Corydon Village area of Winnipeg, on the second floor of an unlikely looking building, is a new restaurant called Arabesque Hookah Cafe which Sherry discovered a few days before your faithful correspondent arrived.

Arabesque has thirteen definitions in Arabic. The most popular refers to a decor of interconnected togetherness and that seems to be what it's all about: bridging Middle Eastern culture and cuisine in the heart of Winnipeg.

There's a Japanese restaurant on the first level of the building, with Arabesque being a non-wheel chair-accessible stairway to the second. The purple theme is inviting and soothing at the same time.

We were here for lunch and friendly service and delicious food was the order of the day. The mint tea was wonderful.

Arabesque Hookah Cafe & Restaurant  Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

The owners, as Sherry came to know, however briefly, are a couple who want to give back to the community they call home, and they provide opportunities to new Canadians, including refugees from Syria, to work in the restaurant. It's an inspiring business model, and one to support.

Arabesque is Halal, with meat, chicken and vegetarian dishes available in generous portions. If only they served wine.

Photos by Jeem. Copyright 2016 by Jim Murray.

September 25, 2016

Canadian Museum for Human Rights

The Canadian Museum for Human Rights is an impressive undertaking. Originally the dream of the late Winnipeg-based media mogul, Izzy Asper, it opened in 2014 after years of debate and controversy. According to the Act of Parliament that set up the Museum:

The purpose of the Canadian Museum for Human Rights is to explore the subject of human rights, with special but not exclusive reference to Canada, in order to enhance the public's understanding of human rights, to promote respect for others and to encourage reflection and dialogue (Museums Act).

Whatever that means.

It's an amazing place, with lots of open space, many interactive displays, and a flow that leads one through the various themes easily.

Six different levels, many exhibits, not enough time. Fortunately as one goes up to each new level, the floor space becomes smaller.

The Dirty War in Argentina is passed over rather lightly as is past US intervention in Latin America generally, and the war crimes committed during the American War in Vietnam.

How Canada deals with First Nations peoples is represented through a variety of displays and some are emotionally moving. The word genocide is not used to describe the way Europeans interacted with the Indigenous peoples of Canada and the western hemisphere.

However, there is this telling quote from a government official:

I want to get rid of the Indian problem... Our objective is to continue until there is not a single Indian in Canada that has not been absorbed into the body politic...

The Holocaust and the genocide of Rwanda are in the exhibit called Abuse of State Power. Putting it mildly.

I didn't see any mention of the Palestinian people and their plight, which seems odd in a museum dedicating itself to human rights. Nor is the issue of poverty given adequate exposure as an impediment to human rights. State abuse is shown to be a problem while the abuse of people by corporations is not.

The last part of the Museum, is an elevator to the top level for a view of Winnipeg from the Israel Asper Tower of Hope.

The Museum has its shortcomings, but it's essential viewing when in Winnipeg.

Photos by Jeem. Copyright 2016 by Jim Murray.

September 24, 2016

Fools & Horses Coffee ~ in Winnipeg

Not far from the Manitoba Legislature we found another great independent coffee shop called Fools & Horses.

The shop is done up in that elegant austerity style we've seen in other coffee shops. There's a full espresso bar that features Pilot Coffee as their anchor bean.

Interesting sandwiches include brisket on toast. Well, why not brisket on toast?

Service, like everywhere in Winnipeg, is friendly and efficient.

Fools & Horses Coffee Company Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

In the afternoon Fools & Horses offers wine, spirits and beer, including brews from emerging and established Manitoba craft breweries. The whiskeys include the hard-to-get Northern Harvest Rye from Crown Royal; reason enough to spend an entire day.

And, the coffee is worth lingering anytime.

Photos by Jeem. Copyright 2016 by Jim Murray.

September 23, 2016

Walking the dog in Winnipeg ~ Sherry & Sawyer

Almost everyday while in Winnipeg Sherry has taken Sawyer for a walk through the River Heights neighbourhood where Sherry is staying. Large trees and stately homes line the streets and avenues, and the weather, at times, is summer-like. In late-September.

Sawyer is beautiful mix between Golden Retriever and Cocker Spaniel, and he would be, as Jeem knows all too well, a great bird dog. But, he isn't. He is a gentle, quiet, friendly dog that loves to eat almost anything.

He loves going for walks, and Sherry loves his company. As for Jeem... he needs a bit more training.

Photos by Jeem. Copyright 2016 by Jim Murray.

The world premiere of The Seduction Theory

The playwright and the cast after the performance with director Hope McIntyre centre

We are in Winnipeg to see the world premiere of The Seduction Theory by Sherry MacDonald. This is Sherry's newest play and it's being staged as part of the 14th annual FemFest at the Asper Centre for Theatre & Film, in beautiful downtown Winnipeg.

Sherry MacDonald, playwright

The one act play takes place in a draconian institute modelled on the training schools, or reformatories, for girls that existed in Canada between the 1930s and the 1950s. The Seduction Theory looks at what happens to a 15-year old girl in the school, and the criminalization and sexual exploitation of young underprivileged girls.
Hailley Rhoda & Merri-Lou Paterson

Hannah Wiggleworth & Grant Burr

It's a dark piece that resonated with young women at all the readings your correspondent has attended leading up to its premiere. And the comments from audience members during the talk back with cast, director and playwright after the first performance recognized the parallels with our society today, especially as society continues to blame and silence women and girls. Not much has changed since the 50s.

The Seduction Theory came about after Sherry was invited to take part in the FemFest Bake-Off. Five playwrights are given three ingredients and eight hours in which to come up with a 10-minute scene. The ingredients must be used during the 10-minute scene. The scenes are then performed in front of a theatre audience at FemFest, with the audience selecting the scene they would most like to see developed into a play. Last year the ingredients for the Bake-Off were red line, hysteria and Yellow Submarine.

The Seduction Theory by Sherry MacDonald was directed in Winnipeg by Hope McIntyre with dramaturgy by Ellen Peterson. It featured Grant Burr, Merri-Lou Paterson, Hailley Rhoda and Hannah Wigglesworth.

Don't miss it.

Photos by Jeem. Copyright 2016 by Jim Murray.

After the CBC... Thom Bargen for coffee

Some days the coffee doesn't come soon enough... but the wait is worth it.

Last Saturday, Sherry and her director, Hope McIntyre (also the A.D. for Sarasvati Productions) were invited to be interviewed on the weekend morning show at Radio One. Both Jeem and G.G. Blynn came along, hoping to get on the air, for reasons unstated, but one look at the two of them and they were left in the green room under the watchful eye of security.

Sherry and Hope were interviewed by a radio institution in Winnipeg: Terry MacLeod. People in Manitoba have been waking up with Terry since 1993. The segment featured a reading from Sherry's new play and much information about FemFest, which was about to start that same day.

After the radio appearance, G.G. Blynn went their own way, and Jeem and Sherry walked down the street, and around a few corners, to Thom Bargen. This is the second location for two entrepreneurs: Thom Jon Hiebert and Graham Bargen, who have serious ideas about coffee and in bringing it to their city.

There's an austerity here that echoes the landscape of the Canadian prairie. Soft music, good service, and the hard sensibility that Jeem remembers from growing up in the deep south of southern Saskatchewan.

Thom Bargen Coffee and Tea Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

The coffee is more than adequate, strong and full, like the wind, and it's a wonderful relief to the chains that dominate Winnipeg's coffee scene.

Photos by Jeem. Copyright 2016 by Jim Murray.

September 22, 2016

The faces of a playwright ~ Sherry's University of Manitoba reading

Sherry has been visiting Winnipeg as a playwright being fêted at the city's annual FemFest, and she had been there a few days when Jeem showed up. Just in time to visit the University of Manitoba for a reading for students and faculty in theatre studies.

Established in 1877 the University of Manitoba was the first university in western Canada. Today it has over 27,000 students.

And some of those students were at the John J. Conklin Theatre at the UofM last Friday for a reading and Q&A with Sherry MacDonald. She was introduced by Bill Kerr.

The reading was organised in part by the UofM's Black Hole Theatre Company, and Sarasvàti ProductionsAnd with readings from two completely different plays, one comedic, the other dark, the faces of the playwright add to the experience.

Photos by Jeem. Copyright 2016 by Jim Murray.