V i v i a n  S o n g
Freelance writer
Freelance writer

Arts and Entertainment

Walk of Fame Festival: A star fest for Canucks

Published in September, 2010, in The Toronto Star.

Part 1 in 5-part special series on inaugural Canada's Walk of Fame Festival

There's a maple-syrup-scented change in the air.

What began as a light breeze of patriotism leading up to the Vancouver Olympics became a gale-force storm when both Canadian hockey teams won gold — the men in overtime against the arch-rival Americans.

Canadians are now being encouraged to relive that wave of unapologetic, audacious nationalism for four days in October at the first-ever Walk of Fame Festival.

Canada Mowat's favourite character

Published in The Toronto Star, September, 2010. Part 2 in a 5-part series on inaugural Canada's Walk of Fame Festival

Farley Mowat bristles at being called a conservationist or environmental advocate.

And he makes it clear he doesn't “espouse” any cause.

What he is, first and foremost, Mowat says, is a “journeyman,” a sagaman of the 21st century.

“When there's a good story, I will write it,” Mowat, 89, said from his summer home in Nova Scotia. “My primary purpose in life is to be a storyteller. I belong to that honourable fraternity of storytellers. That's all I am.”

Our home-grown comedy is finding its own identity

Published in The Toronto Star, September, 2010.
Part 3 of 5 in a special series on inaugural Canada's Walk of Fame Festival.

Are hosers funny?

If a Canuck, an American and a rabbi walked into a bar, who would be more likely to bring the house down?

That, experts and comedians say, depends on your audience.

For a long time, Canadian humour was an amalgam of our most dominant influences: the dry British wit and the physical, slapstick humour of America.

But the tide has recently turned, says funnyman Colin Mochrie, who has worked both the Canadian and American comedy circuits and will be performing at the Canadian Comedy Awards on Oct. 17, which wraps up the four-day Walk of Fame festival.

Magic's modern-day Merlin

Published in the Toronto Star, September, 2010.
Part 4 of 5 in special inaugural Canada's Walk of Fame Festival.

As a young, budding magician, Doug Henning would practice his magic tricks on his younger sister Nancy, who was both his test audience and his assistant.

Being the “monkey” she was, Nancy remembers calling her older brother out whenever she could see through a clumsy sleight of hand or an unpolished act.

“I would say, ‘Oh, I saw that,' and he'd go away in frustration and practice some more,” she chuckled.

Every week, the teenager would throw his magic kits away in defeat and frustration. And every week, his mother would pull the same tricks out from the garbage can and put them back on his desk.

“Between the two of us, we kept him at it,” Nancy, 60, said from Calgary.

Q and A with Paul Anka

Published in September, 2010, in The Toronto Star.
Part 5 in 5-part series on special inaugural Canada's Walk of Fame Festival.

Paul Anka is the recipient of stars on both the Hollywood Walk of Fame and Canada’s Walk of Fame. He returns to his home country in support of the festival and its goal — to celebrate Canadian achievements — with a performance at Massey Hall, Oct. 14. The Star asked Anka a few questions about his native land in a phone interview from his home in California. Tickets are available at www.cwofest.ca.

Final Harry Potter book review, day of release

Published in Sun Media publications, July, 2007.

This story is not for the faint of heart.

Nor is it for the weak of mind, or those who don’t want to be sullied by spoilers.

Enter at your own risk. Seriously.

There. You’ve been sufficiently warned.

Deaths come fast and furious in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, the seventh and final instalment of J.K. Rowling’s epic series about the most famous boy wizard in literary history.

The pace is dizzying, with white-knuckle duels being fought almost every other chapter.

Potter considered a literary gem

Published in The Toronto Sun and Sun Media publications, July 2007.

Someone should have told Lord Voldemort he needn't have gone on murderous rampages and splintered his black soul to achieve immortality.

He and all the Harry Potter characters will live on in the halls of literary fame, alongside author J.K. Rowling -- who can bank on her works being studied, archived, dissected and enjoying critical acclaim long after she's gone.

As the arrival in bookstores Saturday of the seventh and final chronicle of Harry Potter's adventures, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, draws nearer, experts widely agree that Rowling leaves an indelible print on the landscape of both children's and adult literature.

Fans under Potter's spell

Published in Sun Media papers, July 2007.

In Kelvin's Hui's imagination, Harry Potter was thinner and taller than the actor who portrays him in the movies, Daniel Radcliffe.

Literary Harry had hair cropped closer to his head and grew to be a lanky, bespectacled teen.

A quick scan of Hui reveals, perhaps, a subconscious desire to have been that magical boy wizard at one time: he has a slight, boyish build, wears black, wire-framed glasses and wears his hair short and neat.

But come tomorrow morning, when the 21-year-old cracks open the final book in the series -- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows -- the wizarding world that helped lead him to adulthood will begin to close.

"It's the end of an era," Hui laments.

Rowling defends outing Dumbledore

Published in Sun Media papers, October, 2007.

When the author of the Harry Potter series dropped the bombshell at New York's Carnegie Hall last Friday that the Hogwarts headmaster was gay, collective gasps of surprise and triumphant I-told-you-sos erupted the world over, causing a stir that continued to reverberate yesterday in Toronto, where Rowling made her only Canadian stop on a book tour.

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