Take a Peek Inside The Leonard Cohen Exhibit In Montreal

Visitors to Montreal still have time to see Une brèche en toute chose (“A Crack in Everything”), a multimedia art exhibit that pays tribute to the late Leonard Cohen.

More than a year after his death, Montreal is still celebrating Leonard Cohen’s life. The poet, novelist, songwriter and singer is everywhere—from the Main Deli, where he enjoyed smoked meat in the second booth against the wall, to the Jewish Public Library, with which Cohen was affiliated. But one of the largest tributes began two years before Cohen’s death—at the Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal (MAC) as part of the city’s 375th anniversary celebration. It opened one year after his passing.

The exhibit contains no artifacts belonging to Cohen; no fedoras, long black coats or guitars—only his olive-green Olivetti manual typewriter on which he composed his first novel. What there is, though, is more impressive: filmmakers, musicians, contemporary artists and their takes on how Cohen influenced society.

The exhibit—which runs until April 9, 2018— titled Une brèche en toute chose(“A Crack in Everything”) features tribute pieces from filmmakers, musicians and contemporary artists.

With Cohen’s blessing, and with his complete artistic output made available to them, curators John Zeppetelli and Victor Shiffman, compiled the museum’s most ambitious exhibition, commissioning 20 works from 40 artists representing 10 countries to bring a unique vision to Cohen’s effect on music and literature.

Consider Berlin-based Candice Breitz’s offering: the life-sized projection of 18 ardent male fans aged 65 and older encircling the viewer as they sing, “I’m Your Man,” backed by the all-male Shaar Hashomayim Synagogue Choir (the synagogue Cohen attended throughout his life).

British Columbia-based Janet Cardiff and George Bures Miller pay homage to Book of Longing with an interactive sound installation called “The Poetry Machine.” Pressing a single key on the vintage Wurlitzer organ generates Cohen’s voice reading an excerpt from the book from one of the gramophone horns. Play more than one key, and the room is filled with Cohen’s voice reading several selections simultaneously.

American Taryn Simon offers a mixed media installation of the front page of the New York Times, Friday, Nov. 11, 2016, with Cohen’s obituary published beneath a photograph of the first meeting between Barack Obama and President-elect Donald Trump. Cohen is doffing his hat in greeting or farewell.



7 Must-Read Mysteries & Thrillers

From psychological suspense that recalls the best of Hitchcock to international espionage that strikes all too close to home, these page-turners top our must-read list – but be forewarned, they may have you burning the midnight oil.



THE WOMAN IN THE WINDOW: A NOVEL (William Morrow) by A.J. Finn

The unreliable female narrator (alaGirl On a Train and Gone Girl) is all the rage in “grip-lit” these days, but Finn’s smart Hitchcockian thriller takes it to another level with his story of agoraphobic former psychologist, Anna Fox. Separated from her family, she spends her days drinking copious amounts of red wine, watching old movies and spying on her neighbours. But her predictable routine is turned upside down when she witnesses a murder in a neighbour’s house. Or does she? After police find no signs of a crime –believing her judgment is impaired from prescription drugs and the aforementioned wine — even Anna questions what she saw.

Touted as one of the year’s most anticipated debut, the much-buzzed The Woman in the Window shot to the top of the New York Times bestseller list, and is already in development as a major film from Fox. A.J. Finn is a pseudonym for Daniel Mallory, an executive editor at William Morrow, the novel’s publisher.



It’s every parent’s nightmare. The “perfect nanny” you trust to look after your children suddenly falls apart, and in the worst possible way. The prize-winning novel, which was a runaway hit in France, is inspired by the 2012 real life murder of two children in New York City by their nanny.


ANATOMY OF A SCANDAL (Atria) by Sarah Vaughan

The scandal in this story may sound uncomfortably familiar: A government minister, and boyhood friend of the Prime Minister, is accused of rape by his assistant, putting into motion a legal thriller that could have come straight from today’s #MeToo headlines. A riveting read about Britain’s powerful and long-entitled elite and the women caught up in their wake.


NEED TO KNOW (Random House) by Karen Cleveland

This domestic thriller also has a ripped-from-the-headlines story line, this time about Russian spies meddling in American affairs. While investigating a Soviet sleeper cell, CIA agent Vivian Miller is forced to face the fact her own husband may be a Russian spy, and she, his target. This debut novel from Karen Cleveland, herself a former CIA analyst, is already set to be made into a film with Charlize Theron.




THE UNDERTAKER’S DAUGHTER (Grand Central) by Sara Blaedel

From the author of the popular Louise Rick police procedural series (The Forgotten Girls, The Killing ForestThe Undertaker’s Daughter marks the launch of a new suspense series from Denmark’s most popular novelist. The story follows a young Danish woman who journeys to America after receiving an unexpected inheritance from a father she hasn’t heard from in three decades, only to find herself in the middle of an unsolved murder – and a killer who is very much alive.

Release date: Feb. 6, 2018



THE MITFORD MURDERS (Minotaur) by Jessica Fellowes

From the author of Downton Abbey—A Celebration: The Official Companion to all Six Seasons, it’s not surprising that Fellow’s foray into mystery fiction is rich in period detail. The story, based on the life of the famed Mitford sisters, involves a real unsolved murder in the 1920s.




Murder and mayhem on the high seas. In 1939, with Europe on the brink of war, a young Englishwoman running from a shadowy past boards an ocean liner in Essex, bound for Australia. But she is not the only one with a dark secret. In the tradition of Agatha Christie’s Death on the Nile, the glamour of the voyage fades, setting the stage for something truly sinister.



6 Ways to Stay Ahead of Common Online Scams

Online phishing scams
 Online phishing scams

Photo: Pixabay

Phishing scams, where fraudsters trick users into providing them with sensitive information, are one of the most common online threats. Here, six ways you can avoid becoming a victim.

You’re scanning through your inbox and see an authentic-looking email from your bank — right down to the logo. It says they’re verifying your online banking information, and so they ask you to click on a link and type in your credentials.

Sounds legitimate, no?

Unfortunately, this is a case of a “phishing” scam, a malicious attempt by a person (or program) to “lure” you into giving out personal info, such as banking info, a credit card number, or social security number — with the intent to steal your identity for financial gain.

Here are some suggestions to avoid being taken by these scams.

1. If you get an email, text message, or pop-up message that asks for personal or financial information, don’t reply and don’t click on the link in the email. Your bank, financial institution or credible online payment service (such as PayPal) will never ask for sensitive information via email. When in doubt, call your bank or credit card company.

2. Anti-malware software (which includes virus detection), a computer firewall and web browser with an anti-phishing feature can all help act as an extra line of defense from some of these malicious phishers.

3. Look at the link in your email. You’ll notice the URL it wants you to click on isn’t an official site (e.g. — instead it’s something else (like

4. To stay ahead of these scams it’s important to know what these phishing emails and text messages look like. They often indicate a sense of urgency so it’s important to look at the language used (“we need you to confirm your information right away to avoid any problems,” etc). You may also spot spelling and grammatical mistakes as these phishing attempts are usually generated in non-English countries (but not always).

5. Stick with reputable retailers when giving out financial information, like your credit card, and always be sure to look for indicators that the site is secure, such as a little lock icon on the browser’s status bar or a URL for a website that begins with “https:” (the “s” stands for “secure”).

6. Whenever you sign up for something online, try to use a secondary email account — such as a free webmail address from Gmail, Yahoo, or — and not your main email address at work or from your ISP (e.g. Rogers). That way you can better manage the “spam” (and resulting phishing scams) you might expect from registering online for gaming, shopping and social networks.


The Surprising Thing Flight Attendants Say You Should Never Do on an Airplane (Though You’ve Probably Done It Many Times)

f you’re like me, you’ve probably lost count of how many times you’ve flown in an airplane from one place to another. And if you’re like me, you’ve probably also lost count of all the different things you’ve had to eat and drink along the way.

But, according to flight attendants — the men and women who should know — there’s one thing you might want to think twice about consuming on your next flight.

That one thing?

A hot cup of coffee or any other drink that uses water from the airplane’s onboard water system.

A flight attendant for a major airline, who was quoted anonymously to protect her job, explained in an interview for Vice:

Don’t drink the coffee on airplanes. It’s the same potable water that goes through the bathroom system. We recently had a test for E. coli in our water and it didn’t pass, and then maintenance came on and hit a couple buttons and it passed. So, avoid any hot water or tea. Bottled and ice is fine, of course.

Another flight attendant told Business Insider,

Flight attendants will not drink hot water on the plane. They will not drink plain coffee, and they will not drink plain tea.

You’d think that an airplane’s water storage and plumbing systems would be designed in a way that would prevent any possibility of contamination from occurring, and according to the airlines, that is the case. However, some flight attendants claim that these systems are not cleaned on a regular basis. According to a flight attendant interviewed by Travel + Leisure magazine, airplane water tanks “are probably only cleaned out every six months to a year.”

Indeed, when the EPA tested water from a variety of commercial airlines in 2012, the agency found that 12 percent of aircraft in the U.S. had at least one positive for coliform bacteria, which are found in the waste of humans and animals and are an indicator of the presence of pathogens, such as E. coli, that can cause illness and even death.

Surprisingly, this is about the same figure as eight years earlier, when the EPA tested the drinking water from 158 randomly selected domestic and international passenger airplanes and found that 12.6 percent did not meet EPA drinking water quality standards.

An investigation by Dallas-based television news station NBC 5 found that some airlines do better than others. In 2012, 13 percent of American Airlines planes were found to have coliform bacteria in their onboard water supplies (with fewer than half of 1 percent testing positive for E. coli), while only 3 percent of Southwest Airlines planes tested positive for coliform (with no tests positive for E. coli).

So, the next time you’re thinking of asking for a hot cup of coffee or tea on a commercial airline flight, think again. Or even better, grab a cup of Starbucks in the terminal and bring it on board with you. And if you’re going to drink water at all, make sure it’s poured out of a bottle — or bring your own.

Victorian nymphs painting back on display after censorship row

Hylas and the Nymphs by JW WaterhouseImage copyrightMANCHESTER ART GALLERY
Image captionHylas and the Nymphs by JW Waterhouse dates from 1896

A gallery is to put a Victorian painting of naked adolescent girls back on display after a row over censorship.

Manchester Art Gallery said it took down Hylas and the Nymphs by JW Waterhouse to “encourage debate” about how such images should be displayed.

But critics accused curators of being puritanical and politically correct. The painting will return on Saturday.

“It’s been clear that many people feel very strongly about the issues raised,” Manchester City Council said.

The 1896 painting was removed a week ago in an attempt to rethink the “very old-fashioned” way images of women’s bodies were exhibited as “either as passive beautiful objects or femmes fatales”.

Curator Clare Gannaway said: “It’s not about saying these things can’t exist in a public gallery – it’s about saying, maybe we just need to challenge the way these paintings have been read and enable them to speak in a different way.”

Visitors were invited to write their views about the decision on sticky notes and post them in the vacant space.

Manchester Art Gallery
Manchester Art Gallery
Image captionVisitors can stick notes to the wall where the painting hung

But after a backlash, the city council, which runs the gallery, announced that the painting would return to the wall.

The gallery’s interim director Amanda Wallace said: “We were hoping the experiment would stimulate discussion, and it’s fair to say we’ve had that in spades – and not just from local people but from art-lovers around the world.

“Throughout the painting’s seven day absence, it’s been clear that many people feel very strongly about the issues raised, and we now plan to harness this strength of feeling for some further debate on these wider issues.”

The gallery is now planning a series of public events “to encourage further debate”.

‘Killing any debate’

Speaking on Thursday, Clare Gannaway denied that the gallery was censoring the picture, but there were strong reactions on social media and in the art world.

“Removing art due to political concerns is exactly censorship,” wrote Gary Brooks on Twitter.

“I think you can spark a debate without removing the painting,” said Ben Perkins.

Professor Liz Prettejohn, who curated a Waterhouse exhibition at the Royal Academy in London in 2009, told BBC News: “Taking it off display is killing any kind of debate that you might be able to have about it in relation to some of the really interesting issues that it might raise about sexuality and gender relationships.

“The Victorians are always getting criticised because they’re supposed to be prudish. But here it would seem it’s us who are taking the roles of what we think of as the very moralistic Victorians.”

The painting’s initial removal was filmed to be made into a new piece of video art for artist Sonia Boyce’s exhibition at the gallery in March.

Postcards of the painting were also taken out of the gallery shop.

The furore came two months after two sisters started a petition asking the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York to remove, or at least reimagine the way it presented, a painting by Balthus of a neighbour’s daughter in an erotic pose.

The sisters said the Met was “romanticising voyeurism and the objectification of children”.

The museum refused to remove it, saying it wanted to encourage “the continuing evolution of existing culture through informed discussion and respect for creative expression”.

BBC News

A 450-year-old book advises young samurai how to prepare for combat, the secret to viewing death calmly–and what to name the baby

Featured image
Samurai ready for action

According to legend, there was a young samurai who wandered the mountains of Japan one day and became lost, until he met an old man who invited him to his house.

The youngster bragged about the excellence of his fighting skills, to which the elderly man responded with laughter. That angered the young samurai, and he attacked his host. However, the old man was swift to respond to the attack, demonstrating flawless ability. He supposedly fought only with a saucepan lid.

That is just one of the many stories that revolve around the name of Tsukhara Bokuden, perhaps one of the most prominent samurai in Japan, known to have fought over hundreds of battles and allegedly never losing a single one.

A figure of 16th century Japan in one of its belligerent stages, Bokuden earned a reputation for being undefeatable, capable of overcoming even the best of all Japanese martial-arts masters. In the latter part of his life, however, Bokuden began developing a different philosophy that suggested samurais should try to avoid fighting and killing their opponents whenever possible. He considered that violence is not the best solution after all, and while such a stance is widely accepted today in the philosophy of martial arts, it wasn’t the case back in Bokuden’s day.

As it also turns out, Bokuden likely produced a book that for many many years was passed down to one person only in each generation. The book not only provided the younger samurai with pieces of advice on how should they prepare for their first battle but also went into details such as what type of food they should consume in the days ahead of the fight and how much alcohol should be drunk.

The book goes beyond fighting rules and attempts to answer questions related to the lifestyle of a Japanese warrior in general: what skills are required from the samurais besides fighting? It even contains ideas for naming a baby: What is the best name for a baby samurai?

Entitled The Hundreds Rules of War, this work has waited approximately 450 years for its translation into English. Most of the written material is comprised of songs that the young samurais can sing to aid memorizing the rules set by the old master.

Bokuden supposedly finished the work in 1571, just before he passed away. He was born in 1489, and he had spent most of his life in the warring Far East island.

A recent book translation, Live Science reports, was made possible thanks to the efforts of Eric Shahan, an expert dedicated to working on Japanese martial texts.

The Hundreds Rules of War has an unquestionably interesting past in its native country of Japan. Its first printed copy came out in 1840 and since then it has been reissued several times over. Even though several texts say that it was Bokuden who produced the content, it should still be noted that the writings had been recopied a couple of times throughout their long history. Therefore, we cannot be 100 percent sure that it is indeed as Bokuden wrote.

The rules in the texts give us a full insight on how samurai should behave and what is expected from him. For instance,  it is not only archery or swordsmanship that a samurai needs to show perfect skills but also horse riding, says the book. A fiery commentary frequently accompanies the rules, such as “Those who do not spend time to learn about horsemanship are cowards.”

Besides the straight-forward commentaries that are likely to play on the feelings of shame and guilt, something familiar to traditional Japanese culture, the texts shed lights on perhaps the most crucial perspective of being a samurai. “Samurai study a great many things; however, the single focus of their learning is death.

In this context, some of the final rules mentioned say that it doesn’t matter so much what kind of equipment or weapon the samurai brings to the battle, so long as he manages to dismantle any thoughts about both life or death. “Samurai should never be concerned about whether they live or die,” it reads.

On the less “serious” side of the content, the reader can learn what some of the preferred names for a baby born into a samurai class were. The author praises the name of “Yuki” in one instance, a name which means “bow.”

In exploring how a samurai should eat before a battle, one rule says that “it is wise to avoid eating anything other than hot water poured over rice.”

The young samurais were also advised to regularly sip alcohol during the days approaching the battle, while another commentary states that those who don’t consume any alcohol are again “cowards.”

More food-related advice suggests that dried plums or roasted beans are two items a samurai might want to carry with him into battle. At first, it might seem hard to understand the benefits of plums or beans, but some interpret that a dried plum would have helped a warrior soothe his throat if parched before combat.

In the early 17th century, a Zen priest named Takuan Soho compiled a foreword for this textbook. Later on, an introduction was also added. The book’s copy in English has been out only since the summer of 2017, and it also integrates all the original Japanese text. The afterward of the book further affirms that, for several generations, The Hundreds Rules of War was exclusively passed on to only one person.