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Downton Abbey Returns!

December 19, 2014 | Muriel | Comments (1) Facebook Twitter More...

Dedicated Downton Abbey fans, like me, are especially looking forward to the new
year, since on January 4 PBS will start broadcasting season five! Familiar faces will be
returning to this phenomenally popular series, including my favourite actress on the
show, Dame Maggie Smith.  She plays the inimitable, always witty Violet Crawley,
Dowager Countess of Grantham.  An extraordinarily versatile actor who will be new
to the show will be Richard E. Grant, who came to fame starring in the cult film,
Withnail and I.  He will play art expert Simon Bricker, who is invited to Downton
Abbey by the Granthams.  You can catch a glimpse of him in the trailer below, with
Elizabeth McGovern, who plays Cora Crawley.


Julian Fellowes, the creator of Downton Abbey, based the setting for his
award-winning drama on Highclere Castle.  He is a friend of the Carnarvon
family, who make Highclere Castle their home.  Highclere Castle has become
such a popular tourist destination, that tickets for tours for their Easter and
Spring openings are already sold out.  The Telegraph reports that Lord and
Lady Carnarvon have restored two buildings, where for £350 and up per night,
visitors can stay.  "Called London Lodge, the accommodation is set in two
newly-restored buildings, joined by a path, that originally date from 1840
but had fallen into disrepair. They are set on either side of the estate’s grand
Georgian gatehouse, built in 1793...The owners have opted for a modern,
Cotswolds-cottage feel as opposed to trying to recreate anything you might
see in Julian Fellowes’s series." 

However, if you would like to save yourself the cost of accommodation, airfare
(and the ensuing jet lag), you can go, for free, to "Toronto's Downton Abbey,"
Spadina Museum.  Just pick up a Sun Life Financial Museum + Arts Pass
for the City of Toronto Historic Museums.

  A Year in the Life of Downton Abbey      Lady Almina and the Real Downton Abbey      Lady Catherine and the Real Downton Abbey

I find the real history of Highclere Castle and its inhabitants to be actually quite
fascinating.  George Herbert, 5th Earl of Carnarvon (referred to as Lord Carnarvon),
was the financial backer of the search for and excavation of Tutankhamun's tomb. 
Along with archaeologist and Egyptologist Howard Carter, Lord Carnarvon opened
the tomb in 1922.  When Lord Carnarvon died in 1923 after a severe mosquito bite,
it led to the story of the "Curse of Tutankhamun."  Lord Carnarvon was survived
by his wife, Lady Almina, the illegitimate daughter of banking tycoon Alfred
de Rothschild.  The 5th Earl of Carnarvon was also survived by his son Henry
George Herbert, 6th Earl of Carnarvon, as well as by his daughter Lady Evelyn Leonora
Almina Herbert.  The 6th Earl of Carnarvon married a beautiful young American,
Anne Catherine Tredick Wendell.  When her father-in-law died less than a year
after her marriage, Lady Catherine suddenly found herself chatelaine of the
castle and in charge of a large household staff.

Sometimes the facts are even more extraordinary than the fiction... This book tells the story of Lady Catherine, a beautiful American girl who became the chatelaine of Highclere Castle, the setting for Julian Fellowes' award-winning drama Downton Abbey. Charming and charismatic, Catherine caught the eye of Lord Porchester (or 'Porchey', as he was known) when she was just 20 years old, and wearing a pale yellow dress at a ball. She had already turned down 14 proposals before she eventually married Porchey in 1922. But less than a year later Porchey's father died suddenly, and he  ( more)

Behind the Scenes at Downton Abbey         Downton Abbey Rules For Household Staff        Edwardian Cooking    

While you are waiting for the start of season five, you might like to try the
Maggie Smith trivia quiz, or even figure out which Downton Abbey bachelor
is right for you
!  If you are really enthusiastic, you might like to try cooking
a meal reminiscent of Downton Abbey.  The recipes in Edwardian Cooking make
me appreciate that it must have taken a lot of time and effort, on the part of
the downstairs staff, to produce the elaborate meals which were consumed so
delicately upstairs.  For total atmosphere, you could listen to a CD of Downton Abbey
music while you cook and dine.

For dessert, it really would be hard to top Martha Stewart's gingerbread abbey,
her tribute to Downton Abbey.  Here she is, seen with actress Lesley Nicol,
who plays the hardworking and charismatic cook, Mrs. Patmore, on the series:

Best wishes for happy holidays, and enjoy season five!

The Neuroscience of Willpower

December 18, 2014 | Cathy | Comments (2) Facebook Twitter More...

  Yes you can clouds
Image courtesy of

With 2014 drawing to a close, I have been thinking about New Year's resolutions, not that I make them, officially.  I think about what I would like to change, improve and accomplish for the next year, (yes, I know--resolutions).  I recently realized that I have been thinking about making the same changes ever since I was a teen.  It's strange that I accomplish everything I want and need to for work, but cannot do the same for my personal life.  

I am hoping to change that by going to a presentation, The Neuroscience of Willpower at North York Central Library at 7 p.m. on January 6, 2015.  Uri Galimidi will share simple, yet effective, neuroscience-based interventions that will help strengthen willpower, conquer undesirable habits, adopt new beneficial habits, increase the rate of success of meeting your goals, and help you become the best possible version of yourself.  In a nutshell: boost your willpower, change your life.

In the meantime, I might do some reading on increasing my willpower... or I might not.



  Neuroscience of everyday life
Willpower: rediscovering the greatest human strength by Roy F. Baumeister The willpower instinct: how self-control works, why it matters and what you can do to get more of it by Kelly McGonigal The neuroscience of everyday life by Sam Wang (DVD)
On second thought: outsmarting your mind's hard-wired habits by Wray Herbert This will make you smarter: new scientific concepts to improve your thinking by John Brockman Beyond IQ by Garth Sundem (eBook)


Calling all amateur scientists

December 12, 2014 | Carolyn | Comments (0) Facebook Twitter More...

Traité de la sphère
Public domain image. From Nicole Oresme's "Traité de la sphère".

For most of human history, all scientists were amateurs...

Are you among the many people who attend our science programs or pick up our monthly Free Science Events (PDF) calendars? If so, why not take your interest in science to the next level by becoming a citizen scientist?

What is citizen science, you ask? Here's a simple definition from " Lab Coats for All! A Layperson's Guide to Citizen Science ":

Citizen Science (CS) is a data-gathering technique that allows anyone to volunteer their time in support of scientific research projects.       

In other words, citizen science projects harness the power of the internet to allow non-scientists to participate in research. You can think of it as crowd-sourced science.

The Zooniverse, sponsored by the Citizen Science Alliance, is one of the largest and most popular web portals for research projects. Over 1.2 million people have registered to participate in projects such as:

  • Moon Zoo participants will use images from NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter to study the lunar surface
  • Planet Hunters monitor light curves recorded by the Kepler spacecraft to search for exoplanets
  • Penguin Watch volunteers study images of penguins  taken in Antarctica and the Southern Ocean to help scientists understand their lives and environment
  • Cell Slider participants contribute to cancer research by analyzing slides and classifying cancer cells

NOVA Labs is another citizen science portal. It's projects include:

  • Cloud Lab, in which participants classify clouds and investigate their role in tropical storms
  • RNA VirtuaLab volunteers start by practicing RNA folding and can go on to design RNA molecules that could potentially be used in future therapies


Would you like to learn more about the citizen science movement? 

The Incidental Steward: reflections on citizen science Citizen Science: public participation in environmental research   
Inspired by her involvement in environmental studies, the author celebrates the volunteerism that fuels the citizen science movement and urges others to become involved. This highly recommended book describes several popular citizen science projects and their impact both on research and on the general public.  

Would you like to learn more about the contributions made by amateur scientists?

It Doesn't Take a Rocket Scientist: great amateurs of science Bunch of Amateurs: a search for the American character The Species Seekers: heroes, fools and the mad pursuit of life on Earth
Be inspired by these tales of ordinary people who were responsible for some of our greatest scientific discoveries.    

available as a book, eBook and eAudiobook

Hitt examines the American love of innovation through the stories of contemporary amateur scientists.

The story of the amateur naturalists who discovered, collected and classified much of the Earth's biodiversity.

More Proof Extroverts Rule the World

December 5, 2014 | Maureen | Comments (10) Facebook Twitter More...

MistletoeNetworking as a path to success, open concept offices, the emphasis on group work at all levels of education – need more proof that extroverts rule the world? The restaurant chain TGI Friday’s in the UK has unleashed an introvert’s nightmare: mistletoe drones with cameras. The noisy drone zips around like a giant bug clutching a bedraggled bit of greenery, on a mission to make people kiss under the mistletoe, an age old Christmas tradition. Once a target couple is selected, the drone hovers over them, blasting them with a mighty, hair disheveling wind, while restaurant customers gawk and yell, bullying the couple into smooching. The whole thing is recorded on a "kiss cam" which is attached to the drone. I won’t be at all surprised if someone (possibly an inebriated introvert) knocks one of these snoops out of the air with their dinner plate before the end of the holiday season!

Kudos to comedienne Elvira Kurt for inducting these festive pests into her Cultural Hall of Shame (a segment on the CBC arts and culture radio program, Q). In light of recent events surrounding the former host of Q, Jian Ghomeshi, Elvira made the darkly comic suggestion that diners should be provided with an "air horn of consent" to blow, in order to fend off this high tech holiday harassment.

In the good old days, introverts could reconnoiter the territory at seasonal parties and plot mistletoe-free routes to the holiday eats, but thanks to an idea floated, no doubt, by an extrovert, mistletoe drones may become the must-have holiday party ice breaker. Imagine all the ways novelty drones can give grief to introverts in the brave new world of the future. What’s a poor introvert to do?

Quiet - the power of introverts in a world that can't stop talkingOne answer to that question: fake it. Many introverts mimic extroversion, putting on their party face when the situation calls for it. In her popular book Quiet: the power of introverts in a world that can’t stop talking, Susan Cain argues that modern western culture prizes the extrovert ideal, and sees introversion as pathology, something that needs to be fixed. No wonder introverts fake it! Psychologist Brian Little calls this coping mechanism “pseudo extroversion” in his new book, Me, myself and us: the science of personality and the art of well-being. Little, who calls himself an “off the charts” introvert, delivers highly engaging lectures to his students in full-on pseudo extrovert mode.

If you liked Susan Cain's book, you’ll find much to interest you in Me, myself and us. (Little's focus is wider than the introvert/ambivert/extrovert spectrum.) Especially intriguing is his discussion of “neocortical arousal.” Introverts sometimes get a bad rap for being antisocial, but Little points to a theory that could explain their behaviour. According to the theory, introverts experience high levels of arousal in the neocortex zone of their brains when they are in certain situations. An environment in which an extrovert would thrive – let’s say a crowded restaurant where the air space is patrolled by pesky drones that peer pressure diners into seasonal snogging -- could send the introvert’s neocortical arousal levels through the roof.  

Me, myself, and usIntroverts can play at being extroverts, but it’s only a matter of time before the strain of acting out of character sends them running for cover. Faking extroversion too often can have a negative impact on an introvert’s health, Professor Little warns. To cope, he retreats to what he calls “a restorative niche.” He describes using the last stall in the men’s room as a “restorative niche” in between lectures at a military college in Quebec. He was quietly engaged in “arousal reduction” when the “loudest hummer” he'd ever heard burst into the men’s room, took the stall next to his, and started a conversation: “Hey, is that Dr. Little?” After the chatty extrovert discovered him, an extended “interstall” conversation followed, and the professor’s afternoon lecture suffered in quality because he was deprived of his quiet recovery time. Now Professor Little makes sure to pull his feet up when he uses a bathroom stall as restorative niche.

Yet more proof that extroverts rule the world: if introverts ruled, Dr. Little wouldn’t have to manage his neocortical arousal levels in bathroom stalls. Urban planners would make sure there were restorative niches available throughout the city.

To Professor Little and the one third to one half of the population who are introverts, may I offer this piece of advice: the next time you are pushed to the arousal brink, consider the library as a restorative niche -- it's one of the only indoor public spaces where you aren't pressured to buy, join in, or perform. Grab a book, magazine or newspaper, find a cozy corner, and let your neocortical arousal levels gently descend.

A final note: did you know the Norse god Baldr was killed with mistletoe? I'd avoid it, even if it isn't airborne. Take a look at these book titles and you'll see what I mean!


All books above except Blood and mistletoe: the history of the Druids in Britain are available in both ebook and book.

Me, myself and us: the science of personality and the art of well-being.

Quiet: the power of introverts in a world that can't stop talking.

Mistletoe image: Creative Commons

An End to the Camelot Era

November 24, 2014 | Ann | Comments (4) Facebook Twitter More...

John F. Kennedy at Dealey Plaza in Dallas Texas on November 22, 1963.
This work is in the public domain because it was published in the United States between 1923 and 1963 and although there may or may not have been a copyright notice, the copyright was not renewed.

On November 22, 1963, the 35th President of the United States was assassinated by long-range rifle shots originating from the sixth floor window of the Texas School Book Depository. John F. Kennedy rode in an open-top limousine through Dealey Plaza in downtown Dallas, Texas and was struck in the neck and head by two shots at 12:30 pm. Texas Governor John Connally sat one seat ahead of JFK. He was also shot but survived. Jackie Kennedy was physically unhurt but was seen trying to save her husband's life. A lone sniper, Lee Harvey Oswald, was eventually captured and arrested for the crime.  

Two days later, on November 24, 1963, while Lee Harvey Oswald was escorted from the basement of the city jail at 11:20 am, a lone gunman stepped forward from the crowd and shot Oswald in close proximity much to the astonishment of the detective and officers accompanying Oswald. Jack Ruby was identified as the shooter. The front page of the Monday, November 25, 1963 issue of the New York Times reports both the State funeral of John F. Kennedy as well as the report of the public execution of Kennedy's assassin, Lee Harvey Oswald.  

In January 1964, Jackie Kennedy requested a historian, Arthur Schlesinger, Jr. to meet with her to record her experiences during the JFK presidency. These tapes were recently released for publication in 2011.  

Historic conversations on life with John F. Kennedy: interviews with Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr., 1964  by Onassis, Jacqueline Kennedy, 1929-1994. EAudiobook of Jacqueline Kennedy historic conversations on life with John F. Kennedy, interviews with Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr., 1964

Janny Scott's September 11, 2011 New York Times article, In Tapes, Candid Talk by Young Kennedy Widowprovides a glimpse into that conversation. During their recorded conversation, Jackie compared her husband's presidency period to that of Camelot.  

Jacqueline Kennedy's interpretation, though comforting, may contain questionable gaps. In The Guardian, Sarah-Jane Stratford's November 21, 2013 article, Referring to JFK's presidency as 'Camelot' doesn't do him justice, discusses how King Arthur's myth does not accurately capture Jackie Kennedy's romantic version of JFK's presidency. Stratford believes JFK deserves a more accurate historical interpretation of the events of that period.

Despite the different perspectives shared on that period in time, the events that unfolded in November over five decades ago remain instilled in current social media.  

The Society and Recreation Department has a wide selection of titles on American history in the 20th century including a well-stocked display on the Kennedy era.

Kennedy titles at the Society & Recreation Department
Photo courtesy of the Toronto Public Library

Below are more titles on this historical topic:

Four days in November: the original coverage of the John F. Kennedy assassination by Robert B. Semple JFK assassination logic: how to think about claims of conspiracy by John McAdams Killing Kennedy: the end of Camelot by Bill O'Reilly The hidden history of the JFK assassination: the definitive account of the most controversial crime of the twentieth century by Lamar Waldron
The Kennedy detail: JFK's secret service agents break their silence by Gerald Blaine The Kennedy half-century: the presidency, assassination, and lasting legacy of John F. Kennedy by Larry Sabato Mrs. Paine's garage and the murder of John F. Kennedy by Thomas Mallon Kennedy assassinated!: the world mourns: a reporter's story by Wilborn Hampton

The month of November honours conflicts and battles through 20th century history. This month also observes an event that still unites people to share in its mourning. 

Art Talk at North York Central Library: Michelangelo: Drawing Inspiration, Building a Legacy

November 20, 2014 | Muriel | Comments (0) Facebook Twitter More...



 Art Talk: Michelangelo: Drawing Inspiration, Building a Legacy
Wednesday, January 7, 2015 at 7:00 p.m.
North York Central Library Auditorium

Come and join us for an art talk which showcases and elaborates on a selection of drawings and ideas featured in the Art Gallery of Ontario exhibition, "Michelangelo: Quest for Genius."
This talk will focus on key commissions that Michelangelo felt
would seal his fame eternally and the
particular challenges, both
artistic and personal, behind them. 

Speaker: Betsy Purvis, University of Toronto, Department of Visual Studies
Please call 416-395-5639 to register for this free program.

 Michelangelo A Life On Paper      Michelangelo The Drawings of a Genius
      Michelangelo and the Sistine Chapel

he Art Gallery of Ontario exhibition, "Michelangelo: Quest for Genius," is on until Janaury 11, 2015, and centres on a loan of 29 drawings from the Casa Buonarroti in Florence, whose collection is formed from Michelangelo's own.  These drawings represent the range of Michelangelo's work as a painter, sculptor and architect.

With a Sun Life Financial Museum + Arts Pass, you can go for free to the
Art Gallery of Ontario. 

Discovering Michelangelo        Michelangelo the Artist the Man and His Times        Michelangelo The Complete Sculpture Painting Architecture

Remembering Canada's Heroes

November 10, 2014 | Aleks | Comments (0) Facebook Twitter More...

Flander's Field

     November 11, a monumental date to all Canadians; Remembrance Day. Remembrance for the men and women who have served and continue to serve our country during conflict, war and peace. This year, 2014, marks 100 years since the declaration of war between the Axis and Allies. The Canadian War Museum has designed a beautiful resource for those interested in Canada's contributions in the First World War. They have brought together information in collaboration with pictures and objects from the war for public viewing. The Toronto Public Library Digital Archives also has a large collection of pictures from World War I and World War II


    The recent events in Ottawa have received nothing but an outpouring of support to Canadians worldwide. As the story unfolded in the following days, I could not resist feeling a sense of nationalism to be a part of such a great country amongst fellow Canadians who felt the same. The heroic acts of bravery by the Sergeant-at-Arms Kevin Vickers in light of our fallen soldiers, Cpl. Nathan Cirillo and Patrice Vincent brought a need to commemorate them.

    Canadians have an interesting history, one which include acts of selflessness, heroics, perseverance, and struggle that would eventually shape our country. The following is just a small glimpse into some of the more interesting and exceptional Canadian people and events.


Isaack Brock - Canada's hero in the war of 1812

    Isaac Brock is the best-known figure of the War of 1812. He is widely credited as the military leader who frustrated the United States in its ambition to invade and take over Canada. He was an interesting character such that when he faced a challenge to duel, he insisted the other man be a handkerchief's length away. His opponent was forced to back down. Brock survived family financial disaster and faced desertions and near-mutinies before his successful years commanding his regiment in Upper Canada. As military governor of the colony, he called up the militia to oppose the invading Americans and led his troops into the key Battle of Queenston Heights. He died in the Queenston battle, but his courage inspired his troops to victory -- and even brought tribute from his American foes.

Laura Secord - heroine of the War of 1812

    After dragging her injured husband off the battlefield during the War of 1812, Laura Secord (1775-1868) was forced to house American soldiers for financial support while she nursed him back to health. It was during this time that she overheard the American plan to ambush British troops at Beaver Dams. Through an outstanding act of perseverance and courage in 1813, Laura walked an astonishing 30 kilometers from her home to a British outpost to warn Lieutenant James FitzGibbon. Despite facing rough terrain, the ever-present danger of being caught by American troops, and rather delicate encounters with Native forces, Laura reached FitzGibbon just in time for the British to prepare and execute an ambush on American military nearby, forcing the U.S. general to surrender. Laura lived a very long time, dying at the age of 93. In her lifetime the government never formally recognized her singular feat of bravery, and much controversy still envelopes her legacy. 

Shake hands with the devil - the failure of humanity in Rwanda

    Digging deep into shattering memories, General Dallaire has written a powerful story of betrayal, naïveté, racism and international politics. His message is simple and undeniable: “Never again.” When Lt-Gen. Roméo Dallaire received the call to serve as force commander of the UN intervention in Rwanda in 1993, he thought he was heading off on a modest and straightforward peacekeeping mission. Thirteen months later he flew home from Africa, broken, disillusioned and suicidal, having witnessed the slaughter of 800,000 Rwandans in only a hundred days. 


The courage of the early morning - a biography of Billy Bishop, the great ace of World War I

    William Avery Bishop "Billy Bishop" survived more than 170 air battles during World War I and was given official credit for shooting down seventy-two German aircraft. Experts on aerial warfare acknowledge that his relentless air fighting techniques and skills as a brilliant individualist and marksman were unique and his record unsurpassed. He was the first man in British military history to receive the Victoria Cross, the Distinguished Service Order, and the Military Cross in one ceremony. Eddie Rickenbacker, an American fighter ace once said, "Richthofen usually waited for enemies to fly into his territory; Bishop was the raider, always seeking the enemy wherever he could be found ... I think he's the only man I ever met who was incapable of fear." His three years at the Royal Military College were disastrous – an epic of rules broken and discipline scorned. He often admitted that his special method of landing wrecked more planes than he shot down. In the days when fliers could rightly think themselves heroes for just having the courage to go up in the rickety plans, Billy Bishop won the respect of comrades and enemies alike. He was one of the new breed of warriors who met the deadly challenge of air combat and made the airplane a decisive military weapon.


 For those who are looking for reads about courage, survival, danger and resilience the following are a list of books acclaimed as truly inspiring and mesmerizing reads:  

Lone survivor the eyewitness account of Operation Redwing and the lost heroes of SEAL Team 10Band of brother - E company, 506th Regiment, 101st Airborne from Normandy to Hitler's Eagle's NestUnbroken - a World War II story of survival, resilience, and redemptionLiar, Temptress, Soldier, Spy- Four Women Undercover in the Civil WarA Long Way Gone- Memoirs of a Boy Soldier


Chase away the autumn blues with an evening of words and music

November 7, 2014 | Maureen | Comments (4) Facebook Twitter More...

Sun lovers get the blues when dead leaves scratch along the sidewalk in bone chilling autumn gusts, and days are short and bleak. You might want to hurry home and shut the door on this dark season, but there are remedies for the autumn blues. Stomp and crunch your way through leaf piles! Rejoice in the dark majesty of autumn skies! Greens and tropical blues have had their time. Now the crimson, gold and sapphire of autumn rule, and you can hear the rhythm of Canadian poet Bliss Carman’s classic verse as you stride through frenzied leaf cyclones that suddenly animate the sidewalk:

There is something in the autumn that is native to my blood--
Touch of manner, hint of mood;
And my heart is like a rhyme,
With the yellow and the purple and the crimson keeping time.

Autumn leaf

Is your jack-o'-lantern still out in your yard or on your balcony? Take a photo everyday, animate them, and watch Jack bite his own evil grin as he rots! Make yourself an autumn song playlist. It’s easy to do using Naxos Music Library, which is available to you from your home computer or in any Toronto Public Library branch. All you need is your library card to access a huge music collection. Using the jazz version of Naxos Music Library, I created an autumn playlist that includes the songs “Autumn leaves”,  “Stormy weather”, “Autumn Nocturne”,  “Lullaby of the leaves”, “Autumn in New York”, “Soon it’s gonna rain” and “My favourite things” performed by great artists such as Miles Davis, Vince Guaraldi, Charles Mingus, Oscar Peterson, John Coltrane and Ella Fitzgerald. Coltrane’s soaring, diving saxophone improvisation of Rodger’s and Hammerstein’s “My favourite things” is 13 minutes and 41 seconds of pure brilliance that makes me think of the erratic dance of falling leaves tossed by the wind. With these jazz geniuses playing the soundtrack for your autumn blues, you just might want to stay blue.

North York Central Library invites you to a musical performance that is all about the blues. On Tuesday November 18, award winning blues artists Diana Braithwaite and Chris Whiteley, along with guitarist and musicologist Mike Daley, will perform blues poetry, which is a fusion of blues music and the African American oral tradition. They will perform work by Harlem Renaissance poet Langston Hughes and others. Diana and Chris have played all over North America and Europe, and have won nine Maple Blues Awards and 6 Juno nominations. The performance begins at 7:00 p.m. Please call 416-395-5639 to register for this free program.

 DeltaPhonic Blues Poems  Something about the blues
 The Essential Langston Hughes Selected poems of Langston Hughes   Squeeze my lemon


20 Best Horror Films on DVD

October 26, 2014 | Viveca | Comments (5) Facebook Twitter More...

Wanna see something really scary? Here are 20 of the best horror movies available at the Toronto Public Library. Film critic Robin Wood wrote that the horror film's “true subject is the struggle for recognition of all that our civilization represses or oppresses." This holds true from James Whale's 1931 Frankenstein to the films of David Cronenberg. Haunted houses, sinister children, monsters, murderers and the undead - there is something for everyone on this list. Prepare to unleash the repressed. And let us know if your favourite is not on this list. 

Let the Right One In

The Shining Exorcist
Diabolique Rosemary's Baby

Let the Right One In (2008, Sweden) dir Tomas Alfredson. Based on the novel by John Ajvide Lindquist. Oscar, a bullied 12-year-old boy makes friends with Eli, a young female vampire. It's a moving (and terrifying) story of two outsiders finding each other. Still thirsty for blood? Try Nosferatu or Vampyr, or the Universal films with Bela Lugosi. 

The Shining (1980, UK/USA) dir Stanley Kubrick. Misunderstood when first released, Kubrick's film is now recognized as a masterpiece of the genre. Hotel hallways will never look the same. Keep your eyes peeled for the paintings by Canadian artist Alex Colville. The documentary Room 237 explores the film's symbolism. Based on Stephen King's novel

The Exorcist (1973, USA) dir Willam Friedkin. Based on William Blatty's novel about a 12-year old girl's demonic possession, this film tested the boundaries for graphic horror and spawned many 'demonic child' films, including The Omen

Diabolique (1955, France) dir Henri-Georges Clouzot. A meek schoolteacher plots to kill her abusive husband by enlisting the help of his mistress, played by a smokin' hot Simone Signoret. The plot twist will keep you up at night.  

Rosemary's Baby (1968, USA) dir Roman Polanski. Based on Ira Levin's novel. A pregnant newlywed (Mia Farrow) suspects something is wrong with her unborn child and that her creepy husband may be responsible. Farrow got served divorce papers on the set by Frank Sinatra who reportedly didn't want her to take the role. Cinematographer William A. Fraker explains why this film terrifies in the documentary, Visions of Light

Psycho The Host Nightmare on Elm Street Haunting Devil's Backbone

Psycho (1960, USA) dir Alfred Hitchcock. Critically-acclaimed as one of the best American films of all time, Psycho broke boundaries with its editing, performances, music, and mise-en-scène. The best book ever about Hitchcock?  Hitchcock's Films Revisited by the late, great Robin Wood.

The Host (2006, South Korea) dir Bong Joon-ho. A monster, born of toxic waste, lurks in the Han River and kidnaps a young girl. Both poignant and frightening, this film premiered at Cannes to great critical acclaim. 

Nightmare on Elm Street (1984, USA) dir Wes Craven. Freddy Krueger, a disfigured spirit armed with razored gloves, kills teenagers via their dreams. Watch for a chubby-cheeked Johnny Depp in his first film role. The 2014 documentary, Never Sleep Again, goes behind the scenes of this enduring franchise. 

The Haunting (1963, UK) dir Robert Wise. Based on Shirley Jackson's novel, The Haunting of Hill House. A group of people stay at a haunted house to study its paranormal activity. 50 years after its release, this film still terrifies. Keep your eyes on that bedroom doorknob. 

The Devil's Backbone (2001, Spain/Mexico) dir Guillermo del Toro. Carlos, an abandoned child living in an orphanage during the Spanish Civil War, sees terrifying visions of a ghostly child. By the director of Pan's Labyrinth.  

Halloween Innocents The Evil Dead Changling Don't Look Now

Halloween (1978, USA) dir John Carpenter. Around Halloween, ringtones everywhere change to this ominous theme song, composed and performed by Carpenter. A murderer escapes from an asylum, returns to his old neighbourhood and slices up hormonal teens. Best jump scares ever - and features an intelligent heroine played by a young Jamie Lee Curtis. Steadicam technology becomes a staple of the horror film. 

The Innocents (1961, UK) dir Jack Clayton. Based on Henry James classic novella, The Turn of the Screw, Deborah Kerr is luminous in this ghostly psychological tale about a governess and her sinister charges, Miles and Flora. Fun fact: Truman Capote worked on the screenplay. 

The Evil Dead (1981, USA) dir Sam Raimi. A low-budget horror film about students accidently unleashing demons while vacationing in the woods. Its gore, sense of humour, and ironic performances turned it into a cult classic and spawned sequels, a comic book and a stage musical

The Changeling (1980, Canada/US) dir Peter Medak. After losing his family in a car accident, a man moves into a isolated Victorian mansion where he is visited by the ghost of an extremely angry child. Filmed in Canada, this won the first Genie for Best Canadian film. 

Don't Look Now (1973, UK/Italy) dir Nicolas Roeg. A couple moves to Venice after the accidental drowning of their young daughter. Grief turns to dread as they catch glimpses of a little girl following them. Donald Sutherland and Julie Harris appear in an extremely athletic sex scene (shocking for the time) in this exploration of death and grieving. Based on Daphne Du Maurier's short story. 

Black Christmas 28 Days Later The Ring Night of the Living Dead American Werewolf in London

Black Christmas (1974, Canada) dir Bob Clark. Filmed at the University of Toronto in Annesley Hall, with Olivia Hussey, Keir Dullea, Margot Kidder, John Saxon, and Andrea Martin. The Dubious Achievment Award goes to the Great White North for making the first slasher film (after Psycho, of course). The terrifying phone call becomes a staple of horror films. 

28 Days Later (2002, UK) dir Danny Boyle. A seminal film of the zombie film renaissance, this post-apocalyptic nightmare was shot in Picadilly Circus and Oxford Street. With Cillian ("Spooky Eyes") Murphy and Christopher Eccleston.

Night of the Living Dead (1968, USA) dir George Romero. Romero delves into the dark recesses of the American psyche and offers scathing political commentary in his zombie series (the sequels are good too, if not better). Birth of the Living Dead is a documentary on the making of this cult classic. 

The Ring (2002, USA) dir Gore Verbinksi. What's that I hear? The shrieks of purists faithful to Hideo Nakata's 1998 Japanese film, Ringu? Sadly, Ringu is currently unavailable, and it is a fact that excellent Asian horror films are regularly remade for North American audiences. Nonetheless, this tale of a lethal video has its moments. Even scarier is having younger audiences ask "What is a video cassette?" 

American Werewolf in London (1981, USA/UK) dir John Landis. Two American students are backpacking in the British moors when they are attacked by a werewolf. One dies and the other...well. The film achieved cult status with its in-jokes and special effects. The early 80s was a hot time for werewolf films which included Joe Dante's The Howling.

And speaking of John Landis and werewolves, re-visit Michael Jackson's Thriller video. (Heads up: some scary images and some pretty intense dance moves...) 

Canadian Opera Company Talk: Don Giovanni

October 24, 2014 | Muriel | Comments (0) Facebook Twitter More...


 Canadian Opera Company Talk:

Don Giovanni

Wednesday, November 19, 7:00 p.m.

North York Central Library Auditorium

Come and join Wayne Gooding, editor of Opera Canada magazine, as he delves into Mozart's Don Giovanni, which will be presented by the Canadian Opera Company this winter.  The Canadian Opera Company's new production is directed by one of opera's most talked-about young directors, Dmitri Tcherniakov, whose The Metropolitan Opera in HD staging of Prince Igor recently wowed audiences worldwide.

           Don Giovanni DVD          Opera Canada          Don Giovanni           

      An Introduction to Mozart Don Giovanni              Opera Viva

 Be sure to visit NAXOS, the online music library available through Toronto Public Library, and listen to great music spanning medieval to modern - classical, jazz, electronic, world music and more, and find expert educational content.   


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