I thought the first day of October would never
end. On the home front my toilet bowl was threatening
to outdo Niagara Falls. I’d been meaning
to buy a plunger.
At work, I learned that the new project manager
of our major funder had a much different view
of the guidelines than her predecessor. My proposal
would have to be completely re-done.
But nothing could have prepared me for the attack
of the office machines.
Our five-figure photocopier digested the re-drafted
application hungrily, but like the throne-seat
in my apartment, blocked the sheets in the passageway.
Soon after, the fax machine played editor and
forwarded four pages instead of 16 to an adjudicator
who was investigating our organization’s
capacity to manage a large grant. And then the
coffee-maker had the audacity to refuse starting
the brew-cycle until I remembered to turn it on.
Ignoring the chuckles of my co-workers, and using
freshly installed software, I set about updating
the website. But I had to fight back tears when
I realized that the file I’d slaved on for
hours had vanished from my hard drive, even though
I was pretty sure I’d saved it prior to the
installation of the Web-publishing program. Fortunately,
I’d neglected to empty my wastebasket, so
the recreated month-end results were ready to
upload by lunch.
But then, having successfully published the reconstructed
information to the server, the few remaining brown
hairs on my over-heated head blanched entirely
when I tested the result only to see that none
of the new features (search-tool, navigation bar
and background wallpaper) worked. The best our
internet service provider’s helpdesk could
do was to assign the “trouble-ticket”
an “administrative escalation” designation.
Failed by technology—again!
Enough. Reeling from visions of missed deadlines,
cyberspace embarrassment and collusion amongst
electronic timesaving devices, I stormed out of
work and flew to the Pen Centre determined to
finally purchase the bathroom aid that would at
least permit me to have one successful download
I stomped into the mall; wary shoppers made way.
Suddenly, in the midst of composing a scathing
memo telling the Master-of-Microsoft where he
could put his mouse, my attitude swung from darkness
to light as I heard in the distance the unmistakable
sound of live toe-tappin’ jazz. It was a
miracle on Glendale Avenue.
Uncontrollably grinning from ear to ear, I shuffled
to the food court where the Bill Stevens Dixieland
Band was playing a set of authentic N’Orleans
charts in celebration of International Music Day.
The Canadian Ministry of Heritage and the recording
industry’s music performance trust funds
had provided the cash for this daylong buffet
of free music. No stranger to Dixie myself (licorice-stick
in a band called the Muskrat Ramblers), I’d
put my performing career on hold as other parts
of life demanded more attention.
Reluctantly leaving the band to get up close
and personal with my wooden-handle slush pump,
I celebrated the re-discovery of the unfailing
remedy for life’s trials and frustrations:
Rejuvenated by “When The Saints Go Marching In,” I vowed
that investigating the fabulous array of artistic
expression that’s available in Niagara would
go to the top of my to-do list.
Forty-eight hours later, I took in Unleavable,
a comedy by local resident, Jason Cadieux, (presented
by Theatre Arts Niagara), which was a one-act
exploration of spousal-relationships, greed and
“useful” lies. While it didn’t
leave me rolling in the aisles, there were many
clever moments and Peter Higginson’s performance
as the conniving publisher was first-rate. TAN’s
next production Be Wearing Wolf, opens
at the Old Court House Theatre Space on November
21—I’ll be there.
The Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra’s Sunday
matinée offered a marvellous program of
Mozart, Mahler and Brahms. It was a great pleasure
to savour the acoustic excellence of Kleinhans
Music Hall, just 46 kilometres from Welland and
Bunting. And, driving home, still dazzled by the
technical brilliance of guest pianist André-Michel
Schub and the artistic integrity of music director
JoAnn Falletta, I was finally able to laugh off
any lingering angst of October 1.
Surprisingly, a common thread to all of these
outstanding performances was the large number
of empty seats.
OK—I’m guilty, too. It took an exceptionally
stressful day and an incredible coincidence to
rekindle my dormant passion for live artistic
expression; to be reminded how its power and beauty
can have such positive effects on the human condition
in ways that pre-packaged mass-market entertainment
Why not prove it to yourself? Join me on October
27, 2:30 p.m. at the Sean O’Sullivan Theatre
for the Niagara Symphony Orchestra’s concert
that includes works by Bartók, Brahms and
St. Catharines composer James Hiscott. For two
glorious hours, let this magnificent music take
you to places you’ve never been and in the
company of those who also relish the experience. JWR