Thursday, February 22, 2007

an article about a Remembrance Day concert

What are you doing this Remembrance Day? Does it matter? These may seem like silly questions, but I grew up long after both world wars had ended, and I was just a baby during the Vietnam War. "Remembering" is a futile exercise for me. I don't "remember" anything.

I have experienced loss and suffering, however. I have become aware of the deep human need to deal with the confusing, chaotic and destructive elements of our lives by containing them within the relatively safe boundaries of ceremony and ritual. Meditation and reflection are valuable tools that can heal our souls, even if we have no direct experience of terrible events such as war. Enter London Pro Musica's Remembrance Day concert, A War Memorial.

The choir, along with Orchestra London, will be presenting Mozart's Requiem, and two movements from Ralph Vaughn William's Dona Nobis Pacem. Choral arrangements of the poems In Flanders Fields and Do Not Stand at My Grave and Weep will also be performed.

What is the most appropriate way to remember the dead? I have always been vaguely dissatisfied with the traditional minute of silence and the sound of a bugle playing Taps and Reveille. I understand the significance of this military music, but I have never felt that the ceremony was enough.

I'm intrigued by Pro Musica's program. Listening to Mozart's Requiem - a mass for the dead - is a fitting choice on a day set aside for the remembrance of fallen soldiers. It is a very moving piece of music that will be familiar to anyone who has seen the film Amadeus.

And Bishop Cronyn Memorial Church is a marvelous setting. Doug Leighton, a member of Pro Musica and a rector at the church, tells me that Bishop Cronyn used to be the garrison church for the military barracks here in London. There are several military displays and memorials from World Wars I and II throughout the sanctuary.

In a touching war story connected with the church, a young World War I artilleryman from Bishop Cronyn, Woodman Leonard, brought back a small statuette of a madonna and child from a demolished church in Europe during one of his leaves.

Leonard was later killed in action at Vimy Ridge, and as he lay dying he turned to his second-in-command and said, "I'm finished. Take over and carry on." A plaque near the front of the sanctuary at Bishop Cronyn is inscribed with those words in memory of Leonard, and the statuette is still housed within the church.

Death and dying, war and destruction - these are never pleasant things to contemplate. If it's a truly meaningful service of remembrance that we are seeking, then an evening spent listening to some of the world's most moving music seems an ideal choice.

November 5, 1998

copyright 1998, Michelle Lynne Goodfellow

peaches - a poem

Imagine a puddle of peaches on a countertop. The blushing warmth of skin. Their roundness. A heat that is the colour of my heart, and a vision that makes my heart ache...

Pick one up. The weight and heft registering against palm. The gentleness of fingers not wishing to bruise. The stroke of a thumb against velveteen...

Lift to your nose and close your eyes. A fragrance of lightness that vanishes if inhaled too deeply. A vision of tiny white flowers that evaporate in a rainbow’s end whenever you get too close...

A sudden bite, and an explosion of sweetness. The ache of blushing colour now turned juicy. Inner flesh that melts under the tongue. The swallow...

The end is dripping stickiness, and a ragged pip that’s hard as rock...

(plant it, and another tree will grow...)

Friday, September 3, 1999

copyright 1999, Michelle Lynne Goodfellow

solstice blues - a poem

on a shiny sunny
second day of summer

i pull the covers over
my head in the middle of the afternoon

and hide from a life
without your kiss

it's not even
july yet but

the days are getting shorter now
won't be long until

november crashes round
my head in groans

Sunday, June 22, 2003

copyright 2003, Michelle Lynne Goodfellow

practising your practice

Last night when I was editing my most recent post I remembered something I really hate about Spell Check.

It doesn't recognize "practise" as a correct spelling.

You may remember from your elementary school days: practice with a C is a noun, and practise with an S is a verb.

So how come Spell Check can't figure out the difference between the two?

Anyhow, if you are writing something in Word and you use the word "practise," make sure that Spell Check doesn't automatically change the word to "practice" if it's not a noun.


I need to start practising my singing every day. (verb)

My singing practice has been a little lax, lately. (noun)

copyright 2007, Michelle Lynne Goodfellow

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

an article about Brassroots

There are times when I wish I could transcribe an entire conversation word-for-word into this column. I have a limited amount of space to fill each issue, and this time it feels woefully inadequate.

The reason? I recently interviewed veteran percussionist Robert (Bob) Hughes about his upcoming performance with Brassroots, a local brass group. Expecting a pleasant but brief exchange, I was instead treated to an hour-long discourse on Hughes' multi-faceted career, the roots of African music, and speculation as to why percussion is so compelling to audiences.

For the record, Hughes was educated at the University of Toronto, and taught high school music before coming to London to teach percussion at the University of Western Ontario for the better part of three decades.

He officially retired in 1995. Along the way he's also carved out a performance career for himself in an incredibly broad range of styles, from big band, jazz, and orchestral music through to world music and fusion.

When asked why he loves percussion, Hughes said that one of the reasons is the sheer variety of performance styles available to a percussionist. The other reason? The never-ending challenge of "being able to play steadily."

Those rare moments when everything clicks and the musician finds his or her groove are like nirvana for Hughes.

The idea for Saturday night's concert - African Safari - was conceived a year ago when Brassroots conductor Bram Gregson decided to feature more of the fantastic talent available in this city.

Hughes, a specialist in African music who studied in Ghana in 1989 and 1993, and is currently writing some world music teaching materials for high school musicians, was approached by Gregson to program a concert of African music.

After realizing that it might be too difficult to acquire enough scores or arrangements to fill an entire evening, the decision was made to include New World music with African roots - effectively tracing the journey of African music through to the Americas.

The program features a North African sword dance, "talking drum" music, African bell music, West African funeral dances, and High Life (the pop music of Ghana), as well as New World examples of dances such as the cha cha, tango and samba, with a little bit of Duke Ellington and improvisation mixed in at the end.

Hughes is also bringing along several other guest musicians: percussionists Alfredo Caxaj, Rob Inch, Rob Larose and Greg Mainprize, guitarists Steve Litman and Oliver Whitehead and pianist Steve Holowitz.

All are keenly interested in world, jazz, and Latin music, and several are members of Caxaj's salsa band Herentia Latina. Caxaj himself is the director of Sunfest 99, a co-sponsor of this concert.

Many of the arrangements have been written by local composer Jeff Christmas, and Brassroots trumpeter Paul Stephenson will be a featured soloist.

I was most fascinated by Hughes' descriptions of the African music, and Saturday night's audience will get a taste of his passion for teaching. Hughes plans to do a little bit of show-and-tell during the first half of the program, describing how the percussion instruments are constructed, and pointing out what to listen for in the African music.

April 8, 1999
copyright 1999, Michelle Lynne Goodfellow

Thursday, February 15, 2007

an article about the films of Joyce Wieland

As I talk to University of Western Ontario film professor Michael Zryd over the phone in preparation for this article, I find myself remembering my own days as a film student a decade ago.

And as Zyrd and I talk about Canadian artist Joyce Wieland's film retrospective - which kicks off its cross-Canada tour at the London Regional Art and Historical Museums this month - I find myself wishing that I'd been able to see these films as a student.

When I was in school there was a lot of lip-service paid to feminist theory, especially to the idea that women have a unique and valuable story to tell about the realm of the "personal" - the intimate day-to-day domestic activities that, in the past, have tended to make up much of women's lives.

As Zryd speaks, I begin to visualize Wieland's films in my mind, and all of a sudden I realize that Wieland's work may be the perfect example of one of feminist theory's pet subjects: the intersection of the "personal" and the "political."

Wieland was a prolific artist in a variety of media, creating paintings, drawings, mixed-media constructions, and quilts as well as films, over the course of her career.

Before her death last year at the age of 66, she had left a permanent mark on the Canadian and feminist art worlds. She was noted for being the first living female Canadian artist to receive solo exhibitions at both the National Gallery and the Art Gallery of Ontario, and was awarded the Order of Canada in 1983.

She began making short films in the early 1960s while living with then-husband Michael Snow in New York City.

Zyrd, who contributed an article to the book The Films of Joyce Wieland, which is accompanying the retrospective, emphasizes that most of Wieland's films - which can best be described as experimental - are quite intentionally humorous. They also exhibit incredible variety in their subject matter, encompassing comedy, personal meditations, formal/structuralist studies, and documentaries, as well as one narrative film.

Most of the works being shown at the LRAHM on three consecutive Thursdays beginning October 7 are quite short - eleven minutes or less in length - and all are being shown in the format intended by the artist, i.e. on filmstrip, not video.

Examples of Wieland's other artwork from the LRAHM's permanent collection will also be on display.

Personal and political (even patriotic) combine most poetically in 1968-69's Reason Over Passion, a combination "landscape film" (shot from Wieland's own cross-Canada journey by car and train) and documentary of Pierre Elliot Trudeau at a Liberal convention. The result is an unforgettably complex nationalistic statement that will leave the viewers pondering their own relationship to Canada.

October 7, 1999
copyright 1999, Michelle Lynne Goodfellow

an interview with violinist James Ehnes

Canadian-born violinist James Ehnes is already a seasoned pro at the ripe old age of 23. A child-prodigy-esque solo debut, competitions, a Julliard education, critical acclaim, and a CD that garnered him the distinction of being the youngest classical artist (at 19) ever nominated for a Juno award have pushed this musician to the forefront of his profession.

Ehnes joins Orchestra London September 29 and 30 to perform Max Bruch's Scottish Fantasy Op. 46, and Scene Magazine caught up with him over the phone during a brief layover at his New York home.

Scene: What is one interest that you have that is as far in people's minds as you could get from classical music?

Ehnes: Well, they'd be very surprised at how much hockey I watch (laughs). And how much wonderful practising I get done during the Stanley Cup playoffs! I'll just have the TV on mute and hack away for hours. I watch a lot of sports on TV and I try to play as much as I can.

Scene: Did you ever want to give up music?

Ehnes: Not really. There was a time near the end of my competition circuit where I decided (to quit). I actually remember making the decision onstage. I was at one of these competitions and thinking, I hate this. That was a step for me, almost like deciding what it is I do and why I do it. It wasn't, "I don't want to play the violin." It wasn't even, "I don't want to compete so much." It was that moment of recognizing that the philosophy of the music competition didn't appeal to me.

I was very lucky, though, that through the competitions that I did do I was able to meet enough influential people to allow me to get out of that scene. It can be a real burnout for a lot of people.

Scene: If classical music goes the way of the Dodo, do you think it would matter?

Ehnes: It's not a valid question. Not gonna happen. I think it has always mattered a lot to a few people, and it still matters a lot to a few people. And it's always going to be in trouble, but in my lifetime it's not going to go. And I hope to do as much as I can to preserve it for the next generation after myself.

Scene: Your manager Walter Homburger handled Glenn Gould when Gould was alive. What's the best advice he's ever given you?

Ehnes: Patience. He's taught me that sometimes you have to be patient and wait and see how things will pan out. And he's taught me that anything that you don't earn, you never really have at all. Anything that's given to you without really earning it and deserving it becomes as unimportant as if it was never there.

And conversely I've also learned from him that there are times in life and in business when you have to just go for it, right then. He's certainly like that as a business manager. He really is a fascinating guy.

Scene: Tell me about the Bruch piece you're playing with Orchestra London.

Ehnes: It's got incredible beauty and these soaring lines, and it's got a lot of virtuoso pyrotechnics and whatnot, so you get your money's worth if you're looking for the violinist to play a lot of notes.

I can't imagine that it would be a disappointment to anyone, because no matter what you're looking for in a violin concerto, you'll find it in the Scottish Fantasy.

September 23, 1999
copyright 1999, Michelle Lynne Goodfellow

an interview with cellist Yegor Dyachkov

Before I spoke to cellist Yegor Dyachkov over the phone from his home in Montreal, I curled up in my room with his press kit and read it with the enthusiasm generally reserved for bedtime stories.

Dyachkov will perform the Dvorak Cello Concerto Op. 104 with Orchestra London on October 27 and 28. When this 25-year-old dynamo steps onstage at Centennial Hall, Londoners will be treated to the sounds of a young man who has traveled half the world (and half a lifetime) to get there.

Born in 1974 and raised by musician parents in Moscow, Dyachkov entered the Russian conservatory system at a surprisingly advanced age (eight-and-a-half), in a country where students with any hopes for a professional career are expected to begin their studies at the age of four.

Four years later the family's exit visas finally came through (after a 10-year wait, during which time Dyachkov's parents had been unable to work as musicians), and they left Russia for good.

They settled in Canada when a world-renowned cellist told them that Montreal resident Yuli Turovsky was the best teacher for the already extraordinarily talented young student. Dyachkov also had the privilege of studying with the legendary Boris Pergamenschikow in Cologne for three years.

Dyachkov began performing professionally at 15, as a soloist with the Montreal Symphony Orchestra, and with the Montreal-based chamber group I Musici. His star has continued to rise on the international music scene, and he released his first CD, entitled Arensky Glazunov, in 1997.

With this high drama swirling in my head, I telephoned Dyachkov to learn more. He told me he started playing the cello almost by accident. His parents thought it would be a good instrument for him, but he wanted to be a zookeeper. His mother told him that the animals loved cello music the best.

He then sobered me with tales of the competitive Russian conservatory system, and admitted that his dissatisfaction with some of his early training has influenced the way he teaches the students he now meets in master classes.

We got to talking about music competitions, and Dyachkov admitted that although he excelled at the competition game during his teens, he saw little value in it, except as a way to reward those who were good at competing, not necessarily the best musicians.

Dyachkov says he has no favorite repertoire - he prefers to be a musician proficient in every style and period.

If he does have a preference, it's for performing chamber music, because he likes the intimacy that can develop between the players. As a soloist he also finds chamber work enjoyably humbling - he must continually strive to find the balance between emphasizing individual lines of music and playing a supporting role.

I closed our conversation by asking him what he would wish for if I could grant him one wish, and Dyachkov was touchingly straightforward in his response.

"To be able to play with colleagues with whom I would enjoy playing - on a regular basis - at nice venues. Is that too much to wish for?" (Dyachkov laughs)

"I think, really, the wish is to be able to make music in a livable setting with wonderful musicians. And to be able to do that without worrying too much about whether you survive or not."

October 21, 1999
copyright 1999, Michelle Lynne Goodfellow

an article about Orff's Carmina Burana

I fell in love with Carmina Burana the first time I heard it rehearsed: I was the nanny for a little boy who was singing in the children's choir which accompanies the performance, and as I sat backstage during the dress rehearsal listening to the great thumping timpani and crashing cymbals, I wished it would never end.

This was the last story I wrote for Scene Magazine, and it was a fitting end to my time with them. My very first story had been a review of a Gerald Fagan performance, and over the years I had become very fond of interviewing Gerry. It seemed appropriate that he should be there to witness the end of this chapter of my life.

In the article I tried to convey my deep love for Orff's creation, and to this day I'm not sure that I succeeded. I put the music on just now as I have been writing this introduction, and I sobbed just as I have always sobbed. Perhaps there are some things we can't say with words...

Fate is against me in health and virtue,
driven on and weighed down,
always enslaved.
So at this hour without delay
pluck the vibrating strings;
since Fate strikes down the strong man,
everyone weep with me!

So ends the opening chorus of Carl Orff's Carmina Burana, subtitled "Secular songs for soloists and choir accompanied by instruments and magical pictures."

You'd recognize the music if you heard it - it's been sampled in television commercials for years. I first heard it in a movie trailer for Mel Gibson's Hamlet. It's probably my favorite choral work of all time.

The London Fanshawe Symphonic Chorus is peforming Carmina Burana along with Poulenc's Gloria on November 12, and I wish the entire world could be sitting in the audience.

I want people to fall in love with this music - to have their hearts ripped out of their chests and beaten to a bloody pulp before being stuffed back in again. I want to see helpless concert-goers stumble out of Centennial Hall into the night, dazed and exhilarated. I defy anyone to remain unmoved by the primal passion of Carmina Burana. If that sounds like a tall order, I can't think of any other music that comes closer to filling the bill.

The title, Carmina Burana, is Latin for "songs of Bueren." It refers to the Abbey of Benediktbeuren, where the 13th-century manuscript which inspired Orff to create his 1936 masterpiece was once believed to have originated.

The medieval poetry is written in Latin and High Middle German, and tells tales of loving and yearning, drinking and yearning, and loving some more. The entire work is book-ended by the Fortuna Imperatrix Mundi (Fortune, Empress of the World) lament quoted at the beginning of this column.

Orff's music for Carmina Burana was written with an emphasis on percussion and rhythm. Coupled with the pleasing melodies, the music is an excellent introduction to modern classical music for the novice listener.

Special attention should be paid to the text, as the words are beautiful - at times even downright bawdy and erotic. The thunderous opening movement gives way to gentle springtime, and the baritone soloist (Claude Soulodre in this performance) plaintively expresses his awakening desire. Fast-paced dancing and merriment follow, before the action shifts to the tavern for lusty drinking songs.

In the main section of the work (Cours D'Amour: Court of Love), the baritone and the soprano (Leslie Fagan) meet - the man lustful and insistent, the maiden shy and reticent. In a moment of exquisite beauty the soprano finally surrenders - and the lush chorus of Blanziflor et Helena hails the mystery of a blossoming woman on the cusp of maturity, before Fortuna Imperatrix Mundi is reprised and the wheel of fate is sent spinning again.

I asked Gerald Fagan if he remembered the first time the force and majesty of Carmina Burana really moved him. He admitted it wasn't until he conducted the work himself. His then-19-year-old daughter Leslie was the soprano soloist for that performance, and in her last aria she was required to sing a sustained high B into a high D and then a descending scale. "And the way she did it," says Fagan, "the way she held the notes and so on - to show complete control - was really thrilling for me."

Each time he conducts Carmina Burana, Fagan looks forward the ending - the triple punch of the soprano's last solo, the Blanziflor et Helena chorus and the reprised Fortuna Imperatrix Mundi. "I mean, if you're sitting there and you don't think you got your 18 bucks' worth [after that]," says Fagan, "I think you should go to a movie the next night, you know?

"In those moments it's like great theatre, or it's like watching a great movie, or it's like anything. If it works, it's fabulous."

November 4, 1999
copyright 1999, Michelle Lynne Goodfellow

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

a letter of reference from a former editor

To Whom This May Concern,

As the former arts and entertainment editor of Scene Magazine in London, Ontario, I am writing on behalf of Michelle Goodfellow. Michelle was one of my writers in 1997 and specialized in reviewing musical performances and writing in-depth features on musicians. She always wrote with enthusiasm and an innate understanding of her field. Michelle submitted clean copy, on deadline, and was very willing to provide additional information and clarify certain points as needed.

I highly recommend Michelle as a writer and researcher. She takes great pride in her writing, conducts herself professionally and is easy to work with. I am certain she would represent any organization well and would add value to a company.

Yours truly,

Judy Liebner

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

an interview with Marion Woodman

One of my favorite articles I ever wrote was about Jungian psychoanalyst Marion Woodman. I had long been an admirer of Woodman's work (including Addiction to Perfection: The Still Unravished Bride, The Maiden King: Triumph of the Feminine (with Robert Bly), and Bone, a memoir of Woodman's battle with uterine cancer). When I discovered Woodman was going to be giving a rare lecture in her home town, I approached an editor of The London Free Press (where I had never sold a story) and in a moment of uncharacteristic boldness got my story published.

When I spoke to Marion Woodman last week, I could look out my window and see this season's first snowfall covering everything with a blanket of white. Woodman, who was leading a conference with Robert (Iron John) Bly at the William and Mary University in Williamsburg, Va., was delighted to hear that it had snowed, and asked me when the weather in London had turned cold. "Winter is coming!" she said, with anticipation.

Well-known for her work on eating disorders, addictions, and the psychology of the feminine in both men and women, this Jungian analyst, called a "national treasure" by University of Western Ontario's Alumni Association (which recently awarded her its Professional Achievement Award), will be returning home to London to give the annual George Goth Memorial Lecture at Metropolitan United Church on Wednesday night.

The lecture series, set up following the 1990 death of Metropolitan's beloved minister emeritus, has previously featured University of Alberta sociologist Reginald Bibby, Canadian historian Michael (Right Honorable Gentlemen) Bliss, and CBC Radio's Ideas host Lister Sinclair, among others. Committee chairperson Josephine Wilcox admits that the choice of Woodman for this year's lecture was not without controversy.

"There are, you know, some people who are totally opposed to any thought of Jungian analysis. We had one person who refused to contribute to the (lecture) fund, on account of we'd asked (Woodman) to speak."

Many members of the Metropolitan community are quick to point out, however, that the presence of Woodman on the speaker's podium this year is right in line with the spirit of the lecture series.

Says Metropolitan senior minister Robert Ripley: "The tone of the George Goth lectures is set to match the tone of George Goth's ministry, which was, for many years, to engage people in thoughtful debate. That was one of the main goals of his preaching and ministry. And so the committee in charge of the lectures has always sought to bring in people who will simply carry on that tradition of challenging people in their thinking."

Longtime Metropolitan member and friend of Goth, Jim Guest, concurs. "George Goth was provocative. Very much so. He was stimulating, he was colorful. Some people would say eccentric. Outspoken. Fearless."

He continues: "Marion was a good friend of George Goth's, too. George was a great admirer of hers. Marion, of course, has her own way of being outspoken, and in the forefront of opinion, and in that sense they're kindred spirits. So it seemed a nice fit to have somebody who's not afraid to say what she thinks, and George would admire her for that. He wouldn't necessarily agree with her, but he would admire her for her right to speak."

Raised in southwestern Ontario, Woodman spent nearly 20 years as a high school English teacher at South secondary school before becoming an analyst. Since closing her successful Toronto practice a few years ago, she has been teaching and lecturing and is currently working on her eighth book.

About Wednesday's lecture, titled Recognizing Advent, she says: "I'm looking at Christianity at the end, and the beginning, of a new millennium." Interestingly enough, it wasn't until this minister's daughter left for the C.G. Jung Institute in Zurich, Switzerland, in the mid-1970s that she began to understand the significance of Advent.

While in Switzerland, she found that many of the households and churches kept beautiful Advent wreaths. And through the ceremonial lighting of the candles Sunday after Sunday during the four weeks preceding Christmas, Woodman "became very aware of the 'coming of the light,' symbolically."

She adds: "I think that a spiritual preparation for Christmas is so important in our commercialized society, because without it, (Christmas) ends up being just an exhausting time. I'm going to try and say that instead of Christmas just being a time of spending so much time buying presents, and cooking food, and becoming exhausted, so that you're not even there on Christmas Day, it can be a time of new birth, where a whole new value system is possible."

When asked what attracts people to Jungian psychology, Woodman suggests that many "are finding terrible emptiness in their lives right now. They are losing some of their old beliefs. They see institutions that they have trusted all their lives collapsing. And many are losing jobs that they could never have imagined they would lose; they are being declared redundant.

"They experience the framework of their lives collapsing. And they are very frightened. So they are trying to find something inside that can be a bulwark of strength. And the Jungian work leads them to soul. Once they learn how to work with their own dream imagery, they have treasures for the rest of their lives."

Sunday, November 1, 1997
copyright 1997, Michelle Lynne Goodfellow

a successful query

In May of 1998 I was walking along a downtown street in London, Ontario, and I passed a man painting a hand-lettered sign on the window of a local delicatessen. I was fascinated by his skill, so I stopped to talk to him, and eventually asked if he would agree to be interviewed for a magazine profile.

I had never written for London Magazine (now London City Life Magazine), but thought the story would be perfect for their readership. The magazine often featured short articles on local personalities. This was my query to the editor:

"Do you do that by hand?"

That's the question London sign painter Tom Denomme is most often asked while working on a new creation.

You're probably familiar with his work; Denomme is responsible for such notable exteriors as the Rockwater Brewing Company mural and the graphics outside the Website Cafe.

I caught up with Denomme while he was working on the window lettering for the Piazza Deli at the Market Tower downtown. And yes, he does it by hand.

According to Denomme, sign painting is a dying art. Most sign companies use vinyl cutouts instead of labour-intensive hand-lettering.

And it's an art that Denomme is dying to pass along to the next generation of artisans...

My query was successful. The editor bought my story, and it was published in October 1998. Here's the final copy:

Watching London graphic designer Tom Denomme at work on a new hand-lettered window sign is pure magic. A few swipes of grease pencil provide a rough outline; then, with the ease of a master, Denomme paints like a great jazz musician plays: in brilliant colour, improvising as he goes, and with one eye constantly on the larger whole.

Denomme resists being known as a sign painter; the bulk of his work consists of creating print logos and menu designs for local restaurants. But he prides himself on being able to offer a complete design package to his clients, and as a result, his hand-painted signs and murals, splashed across the walls and windows of restaurants and bars across southwestern Ontario, are often the most visible testament to his phenomenal talent.

He's responsible for the huge mural outside the Rockwater Brewing Co. in downtown London; he's also done exterior or interior graphic work for a number of local establishments, including Website The VR Cafe, Famous Jake's and Joey's Crabshack, Joe Kool's, Jim Bob Ray's, Piazza, and Caribou Creek.

Denomme started hand-lettering signs while still in high school. After completing the two-year art program at Beal, he did stints as a window dresser for Eaton's and an illustrator for GM before turning to freelance graphic work full-time.

At 44, he practises what is probably a dying art. Computer-designed lettering and graphics have become standard in signs and displays. But he's found a niche market for the kind of quality work that he can produce. In the restaurant business, where image and atmosphere are part of what attracts customers, a hand-lettered sign or a hand-painted mural provides the hint of nostalgia or old-world charm that appeals to Denomme's clientele.

And Denomme loves his job. "When you can sit down with someone, and then take an idea out of their head and make it real, that's the greatest thing."

copyright 1998, Michelle Lynne Goodfellow

a sample flyer

This is from the flyer for my own professional organizing business:

imagine your life.


basement. garage. closets. kitchen. home office. time management. wardrobe consulting. home staging. seniors. eco-friendly home consulting. workshops, seminars, and presentations.

(and with this flyer, enjoy a free* second hour of organizing)


michelle lynne goodfellow, BSc, BA, is a home economics graduate with majors in clothing, textiles and design, fine arts, and film studies.

for eight years she was owner-operator of an eco-friendly home cleaning business in london, ontario.

give yourself the gift of freedom; hire a professional organizer.

free initial home consultation.

evening and weekend hours available.

member of Professional Organizers in Canada.

*$65 value. some restrictions apply.

copyright 2006, Michelle Lynne Goodfellow

an interview with violinist Lara St. John

Google my name (Michelle Lynne Goodfellow) and you'll find this article in the top ten results. I wrote it for the September 27, 1998 issue of Scene magazine, a London, Ontario arts and entertainment bi-weekly.

She was a child prodigy. She's posed half-naked on CD covers. She plays a 1702 Stradivarius violin. Lara St. John is a provocative 27-year-old London native and she is returning to the city this weekend for Orchestra London's season opener, where she'll perform Bruch's Violin Concerto No. 1.

St. John recently spoke to Scene writer Michelle Lynne Goodfellow from Vancouver, where she was crashing before a performance after a 30-hour travel ordeal.

Michelle Lynne Goodfellow: You'll probably never have another interviewer be able to say this, but I used to play the violin with you when I was little. I took Suzuki, and when I was about six or seven I was in group concerts with you and your brother (Scott St. John, also a well-known concert violinist).

Lara St. John: Really? I've seen pictures of that, but I don't remember it. I was, like, two and three or something. I was really young. Wow! Do you still play?

Goodfellow: No! Are you kidding?

copyright 1998, Michelle Lynne Goodfellow
Read the rest of the article at:

(The truth is, I was a horrible violinist as a child...)

Monday, February 12, 2007

do use spell check, though

Don't get me wrong: If you haven't anyone to proofread your text, Spell Check is better than nothing. My friend Laurie sent me this, from an actual website on resume writing:

First impressions are cruical.

I kid you not.

Do yourself a favour. Use Spell Check. Just don't rely on it.

other ghastly contextual errors

This is from my friend Laurie, who is even more of a word and grammar hound than I am. From a sign at a mall:

Washrooms closed due to construction. Please use food court.

Um, really?

Errors like this often happen when we write as we speak, trying to use as few words as possible, and don't take the time to proofread well. You most often see these errors on signs, although you can also find them in newspaper headlines from time to time.