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Why Is Harold and Maude Considered a Cult Film?

Cinematic film, the art form that came into its own in the 20th century, is not only familiar to all of us, but is likely the form that lodges most clearly in memory. Like music—and the music employed in a film—scenes come back, often carrying emotion as well as remembrance.

One such film is Harold and Maude, the 1971 production that brought Bud Cort and Ruth Gordon to what are possibly their most memorable roles, and the film that locked so many Cat Stevens songs in mind. A cockeyed love story that stretches the definition of a May/December romance, it reveals the fact that love can indeed be blind to matters of age or appearance.

Heidi Greco's Glorious Birds: A Celebratory Homage to Harold and Maude takes us back half a century to when this one-of-a-kind film was released—a time with its own kind of turmoil, but a time as well of a different kind of innocence—one worth exploring again. Fifty years, traditionally a golden anniversary, is surely an appropriate time to celebrate.

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So, why is Harold and Maude considered a cult film? When it was first released, it was hardly a success. Barely two weeks after its release, it closed down. It took over a decade for it to make any profit. The critic Roger Ebert dismissed it with a measly one and a half stars. Va …

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Notes from a Children's Librarian: Get Dancing

Our Children's Librarian columnist, Julie Booker, brings us a new view from the stacks every month.

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These picture books can’t teach you how to dance but they can inspire you. In the curriculum on dance, students are required to create and present, reflect, respond, and analyze, as well as explore forms and cultural contexts of dance. The following stories include dance forms from First Nations, China, Japan, as well as ballet and a few dance-inspired texts.

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Secret of the Dance, by Andrea Spalding and Alfred Scow, illustrated by Darlene Gait, is based on a true story from Scow's childhood. Now Elder of the Kwakwa'wakw Nation and a retired judge, Scow was a nine-year-old Watl'kina in 1935 when his family travelled in secrecy to perform a potlatch, a gift-giving ceremony sacred in Indigenous culture that was banned by the Canadian government. Watl’kina and his sisters aren't permitted to attend the ceremony—if caught, the children could be taken away by authorities. But at the sound of drumming, Watl'kina sneaks out of bed and sees masked figures dancing stories by firelight. He recognizes one dancer as his father, which turns out to be the last time he ever sees his father dance. As a grownup, Scow reflects on the repealed law and how strange it is that t …

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The Chat With Michael Harris

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On the heels of Michael Harris’s The End of Absence comes Solitude, an exploration of what it means to be alone in a world constantly demanding our attention. We’re in conversation with Michael this week on The Chat.

Grant Munroe, writing in The Globe and Mail, calls Solitude “an insightful, lively meditation on why this increasingly scarce component of our lives should be preserved.” Douglas Coupland says, "I came away from this book a better human being. Michael Harris's take on existence is calm, unique and makes one's soul feel good, yet never once does he rely on feel-good techniques."

Michael Harris is the author of The End of Absence, which won the Governor General's Literary Award and became a national bestseller. He writes about media, civil liberties, and the arts for dozens of publications, including The Washington Post, Wired, Salon, The Huffington Post and The Globe and Mail. His work has been a finalist for the RBC Taylor Prize, the BC National Award for Canadian Non-Fiction, the Chautauqua Prize, the CBC Bookie Awards and severa …

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How We Imagine Ourselves, by Howard White

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"I started incubating a theory of literature which held that mastery of expression could occur as readily in an upcoast bunkhouse as in an ivory tower in some great city in a past age."

—Howard White

At the second Geist Evening of Dinner and Diversion held in February 1994, Howard Whitefounder of Harbour Publishing, author, and Officer of the Order of Canada—gave a talk that Geist later published and which knocked the socks off a good many people. "How We Imagine Ourselves" is one of those pieces of thinking and writing that has never left us—it remains a stunning articulation of why place-based stories are so important to how Canadians understand ourselves.

We are delighted that Geist has given us permission to publish "How We Imagine Ourselves" here. 

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When Geist first approached me with the idea of speaking here, I made it known that of all the things I ever wanted to be when I grew up, being an after-dinner speaker was very low on the list. They took this seriously and called me up a few days later to say that they had taken care of the problem by arranging for me to give most of my talk before dinner, which was not quite what I was getting at, but there’s not much I wouldn’t do for Geist.

I grew up in a logging camp in Pender Harbour, B.C.—I w …

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