Fa La La La La, La La, La La (The Singing Christmas Tree)

This Christmas season dear readers, I decided to start a NEW positive tradition for myself. And so far, it’s gone over pretty well.

Now, I realize I can’t really call it a tradition until I’ve been doing it for a few years in sequence at the very least, but the event I was originally going to embrace was the holiday spirit.

Yeah, that looks weird upon second viewing.

I’m gonna run with it though. So gaining holiday spirit and participating more fully in all of the things going on in the city is important to me to foster community. With the intent of relaying more value on Christmas and showcasing the creative talents so many people throw into supporting a holiday of peace and goodwill I think I found the perfect event that demonstrates these ideas. But given the new state of affairs, I may or may not have ramped up my efforts INFINITELY MORESO because I met a special someone recently.

buddy-the-elf-activities

That’s right folks, my new girlfriend is a lover of all things Christmas. So I said to myself, I said “Tim, you need to buck up and enjoy Christmas more than before,” and so far, sooooo good friends.

As a for instance, we decided this week to check out The 47th Annual Singing Christmas Tree at the Jubilee Auditorium. Believe it or not, I’ve never been to this event in all of my years – I’ve lived in Edmonton my whole life folks and I’ve never been to this event before. I think it helps that my girl is bffs with one of the Singing Christmas Tree singers, Candice Ryan. And Candice has a solo performance in the show too. What this means is that I have to pay special attention to one spot of the 35 foot tall Christmas tree to ensure I give proper feedback on her performance and then I can somewhat relax when she is on stage by herself, well, because it’ll be easier for my ears to jusge and less of a visual distraction for my eyes.

Candice is also the new morning disc jockey at CFWE Radio, which is pretty cool, but that’s more of an aside then particularly relevant to this post. Just a thing a good boyfriend should remember.

Now, if you’re like me and you don’t know very much about The Singing Christmas Tree, I’ll fill you in. As previously mentioned, The Singing Christmas Tree has been around for quite a long time and features a choir of over 150 singers, a live orchestra, incredible sets and costumes, and an assortment of performances that include dancing, acrobatics and solo singing performances. All of these is themed around Christmas classics, and taking place between December 15-18 at the Northern Jubilee Auditorium (11455 87 Ave Edmonton, AB T6G 2T2), this is one of those family friendly events that always generates a ton of excitement.

Even better, all of the net proceeds go to the Edmonton Singing Christmas Tree Foundation, which is set up to give music education, food and gifts to children in need. It’s pretty neat.

As I share this with you, I am in the midst of the first performance, so keep your voices down, I’m trying to enjoy the show.

Tim!

Destined For Great Things (Arnold, The Eduation of A Bodybuilder)

This is a story in progress.

It’s not finished yet because… well, I’m not dead. Yes, I realize that’s something of a graphic and incredible overstatement of a point I haven’t even made about the importance of living in the moment, but I suspect you already knew that dear readers.

today-i-will-live-in-the-moment

I’ve always wanted to be better. When I was a boy, I imagined a better life for myself, something far behind the loving family environment of my middle-class upbringing. It was a typical and uninspired belief for a white kid in a first world country, in a province on the rise. I had everything going for me. I should have been happy to have what I had available to me and just ease into a life of what was supposed to be full of comfortability.

Politics, gender norms, and cultural appropriations aside. Of course. Of course.

But as I got older, I couldn’t shake that feeling. I tried dammit, I tried. I suspect it started around junior high school, but this isn’t a post about my story, no. It’s a story about following a feeling.

To indirectly quote from the first episode of Netflix Original – Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency.

And I noticed an acceleration of strangeness in my life. A continuing series of intense and extraordinary events, which, up until a certain point, seemed unconnected, with the exception of each being separately bizarre.

Perhaps ever day before then was, for the most part, been humdrum and inane, my life a mundane, unvarying slog through unfulfilling jobs, shallow depression, and boring, boring sex.

And then suddenly, everything changed, and my life became a swirl of interesting activity.

This is a story about one of my heroes. Well, it’s a story about the story one of my heroes wrote about his own story. Still following me?

Reading Into It

This month, I decided to take a book off of my own shelf for The Reading List. A book which I have been meaning to read before I ever even had this idea of undertaking a project to expand my mind and demonstrate a way to get myself thinking creatively often.

I did this to show you, that you too can achieve results if you set up a reading regimen for yourself AND want more than just success. That’s why every month, I use the Reading List for another book to read and another artist for you to consider in your own personal journey.The 5 L’s of Language give us LIFE (Biographies/Art/Music) LOVE (Classic Fiction/Non-Fiction/Graphic Novels) LEARN (Business/Leadership/Self-Help) LABEL (Philosophy/Sociology/Psychology) and LEET (The Internet).

This month is all about LIFE, because it’s almost the end of the year, I’ve seen another wave of personal growth and it’s in the holiday season that I purchase most of my movies. Which reminds me of one of my favourite actors – Arnold Schwarzenegger.

I Have a Headache

It might be a tumour…. no, it’s not a toomah, it’s not a toomach, at all.

Arnold Schwarzenegger co-wrote this great book called Arnold The Education of A Bodybuilder with Douglas Kent Hall in 1977. This is well before he had broken into Hollywood and definitely before he was the governor of California (remember that?). Arnold had already taken the international bodybuilding scene by storm – First he became Mr. Europe, then Mr. Universe, followed by Mr. World and shortly thereafter Mr. Olympia.

He did all of this because he wanted to be the best bodybuilder in the world. Not the best of the season or best of a particular year. His vision was for a perfectly balanced and well considered champion that was undisputed by the world at large. He worked hard and challenged himself every day to accomplish over 18 titles in bodybuilding. Over time he has acquired several businesses related to practice and education of future generations of bodybuilders.

Schwarzenegger is one of my heroes because he knew he achieves results before he achieved them. Yes that last sentence is a bastardization of the English language, but that’s the point. You have to work at the rules before you can break them proper. Work them over, and over and over. This man has continuously committed himself to his vision, lived his life while in pursuit of goals he wanted to realize, and believed he would do what he wanted. And he has.

What this has to do with the arts is both everything and nothing. It’s nothing if you choose not to be effected by others success and see inspiration in the world around you. It’s everything if you want to be an artist and see that no matter what the stakes, I will be a cultivator of the arts for you. This always has been and always will be digital curating at heart.

And I too am destined for great things. A theory for now.

Tim!

 

Time Moves Slowly (Boyhood review)

It can be tough to overcome a traumatic childhood. We are slow to realize when things have gone wrong and can even normalize recurring behaviour that we shouldn’t. Closure can be difficult, especially when we have to remember the past and our brains can easily alter our chemistry in order to “protect” us.

That said, the human brain and soul is resilient, and when we consider matters concerning love and emotion, those tragedies of life can become lessons and turn the ugly into something far more beautiful.

 

 

 

Boyhood (2014)

Cast: Ellar Coltrane, Patricia Arquette, Ethan Hawke, Lorelei Linklater
Director: Richard Linklater
released on blu-ray January 6, 2015
********** 10/10

emreunayli_boyhood700

IMDB: 7.9
Rotten Tomatoes: 98%, Audience Score 81%
The Guardian: *****/*****

 

I’ve already told you about Richard Linklater once before. He’s one of the greatest directors of all-time in my personal opinion and he has inspired my imagination in more than one instance. I had originally planned on writing about this new movie Don’t Think Twice this week, but then I found out that it wasn’t available on blu-ray, and I was super bummed. So I decided to pick up Boyhood instead, because I still hadn’t seen it, and boy am I glad that I did. I’ve yet to be disappointed by Linklater, and this movie is no exception.

I’m going to go over the plot as best I can, just to give you a taste for it, but please, please, please do me a solid dear readers, and check this movie out for yourselves. This is a unique movie in the scope of movies in that it takes place over a twelve year period inside the film and was literally filmed with the same actors over a twelve year period in oder to demonstrate the rate of change as one grows up.

Taken from Wikipedia and edited somewhat…

In 2002, eight-year-old Mason Evans, Jr. (Ellar Coltrane), and his older sister Samantha (Lorelei Linklater) live with their single mother Olivia (Patricia Arquette) and watch her fight with her boyfriend. In 2003, Olivia moves the family to Houston, to get a degree and better job. Mason’s father, Mason Sr. (Ethan Hawke), visits them and promises to be more involved in their lives. Mason Sr. and Olivia argue about the kids. Olivia takes Mason to class, where Mason sees her flirt with professor Bill.

In 2004, Olivia and Bill have married and blended their two families, including Bill’s children from a previous marriage. They share experiences and learn to get along. In 2005, Mason and Samantha bond with their father. Olivia continues school and is initially supportive of Bill’s strict parenting style, up until the forced cutting of Mason’s long hair. Bill becomes an abusive alcoholic. In 2006, Bill assaults Olivia and endangers the kids, Olivia leaves him and takes her kids.

In 2007, Mason Sr. learns that Samantha has a boyfriend and talks to her and Mason about contraception. He and Mason go camping at Pedernales Falls State Park. In 2008, Mason is bullied by other students at school and teased on a camping trip but starts receiving attention from girls. Olivia teaches psychology at college and moves in with Jim, a student and Bosnian/Iraq War veteran.

By 2009, 15-year-old Mason has experimented with marijuana and alcohol. Mason Sr., who has remarried and now has a baby, takes Mason and Samantha to visit his wife’s parents. In 2010, Mason is lectured by his photography teacher, who sees his potential but a lack of ambition. Mason meets Sheena, who becomes his girlfriend. After a late night, a drunk Jim confronts Mason about partying. Olivia and Jim eventually split up.

In 2011, Mason and Sheena visit Samantha at the UofT, where they share their hopes and fears about college. Samantha’s roommate discovers them asleep together in her dorm room.

In 2012, Mason breaks up with Sheena, wins the silver medal in a state photography contest, and is awarded college scholarship money. Mason Sr. gives him advice about his breakup. In 2013, as Mason prepares to leave his mother’s new apartment for college, Olivia breaks down, disillusioned by how fast life’s milestones seem to have passed by.

At Sul Ross State University in Alpine, Mason moves into his dorm room and meets his new roommate Dalton, Dalton’s girlfriend Barb, and Barb’s roommate Nicole. Mason eats a marijuana brownie given to him by Barb and the group goes hiking at Big Bend Ranch State Park. Nicole shares with Mason her belief that, rather than people seizing moments, moments seize us, to which Mason agrees.

Pros: It is amazing to think that something which is a series of footage taken over a twelve year period has the ability to tell a cohesive story and resonate so strongly what it feels like to grow up. It is ambitious and successful in its aspirations.

Cons: You may struggle to find a tight narrative, and on that account you’d be right. Overall it functions as a series of reflective experiences, it’s only in the credits that we begin to see the connections. The runtime could also potentially take you out of it.

Runtime:  2 hours 45 minutes

Points of Interest: If Richard Linklater died at any point during the shoot, Ethan Hawke would have taken over the directorial duties. The film was shot over 45 days but because it happened between May 2002 and August 2013, it works out to over 4000 days. Each year of Mason’s life gets approximately 14 minutes of screen time.

It manages to capture several intersecting ideas all at once, the moments in time from the perspective of an estranged father, the string of stepfathers and odd relationships the children and mother endure as she struggles with her responsibilities, the half-remembered experiences of a youth looking back on his life, the highlights of childhood. The time-lapse method is incredibly well served here and could easily be applied to another other member of the family if you seriously spend the time with each character.

Boyhood is experienced predominantly from the perspective of Mason Jr. but I found myself observing MJ’s relationship with his mother and how they interacted with each other quite often as the film progressed. Suffice to say, I think that is intentional on the part of Linklater, asking us to consider the effect that we have on others in our lives no just our own impact upon the world at large. But that’s just a theory.

Tim!

A State of Depression (Childish Gambino, “Awaken, My Love!” review)

When you care, you can come off a little creepy. Especially when you put a little stank on it.

This is why it’s important to inject some passion and some perspective into your music, it gives the audience a point of leverage and an opportunity to empathize with you.

Take this week’s album review for instance…

Childish Gambino – “Awaken, My Love!”
released December 2, 2016
******** 8/10

album-art_1024x1024

Donald Glover is an American actor, writer, comedian, and musician. When making music he either goes by the stage name Childish Gambino (performing) or mcDJ (disc jockey). As a recording artist, he usually performs under the stage name Childish Gambino, and as a disc jockey, he performs under the name mcDJ.

His breakout role was with the Derrick Comedy group, followed quickly by writing for 30 Rock and with support from Tina Fey. He later got a role as Troy on the NBC sitcom Community and now stars in the FX series Atlanta which he created. And if that’s not enough cool for school, Glover has voiced the Ultimate version of Spider-man on an animated series and will be portraying a young Lando Calrissian in the standalone Han Solo movie.

Glovers first album Camp came out in 2011, followed by Because the Internet in 2013 and most recently “Awaken, My Love!”, which is why we’re here after all.

It was odd to pick up this album last week, know that it was released in hushed whispers, be very aware that Childish Gambino had disengaged with his previous model of work AND still feel like this was coming out of absolutely no where. I really wanted to hear more nerd hip hop because I had had a taste for it twice already, but that is not what this album is. Childish warned us he was a quiting the hip hop game, and he did.

It’s a love letter to the 1970s, with equal measures of soul, funk, R&B and psychedelic rock dispersed throughout. You can tell that Childish did his research and made sure to reference many of the greats of the era, while infusing his own emotion and experience into it. It’s incredibly engaging and makes me feel the feelings. You’ll probably connect best with Me and Your Mama right out of the gate, but the themes in Boogieman and Zombies remind me of that younger/sillier Donald Glover and taste pretty sweet.

In the wake of a Donald Trump presidency, not unlike Common did recently with Black America Again, this feels like an emotional outcry against prejudice, fear, hate, and anxieties of all stripes. Have Some Love Riot and Terrified practically lay it out there for you to scoop up and eat.

I think Baby Boy is my favourite though now that I think about it through and through. It’s rather sentimental and sweet, full of harmonies and soft sounds, and likely inspired by the birth of his son.

Childish Gambino might not have enjoyed putting this album together, it was a complete left turn for him when you consider it, but it’s very apparent that he is tapping into something different, possibly inspired by his new show Atlanta. The nerd rap was an important part of his identity when he was working on the show Community, working to find a voice and separate from the pack, but tapping into funk while he helms the ship makes sense. There are a lot more emotions to navigate and way less certainty of the destination.

 

 

 

If you haven’t already been convinced to pickup this incredibly soulful effort by Childish Gambino, I don’t know what you’ve been doing for the last 598 words, but this is it folks, this is creative experimentation that works and while it isn’t perfect, it’s far more ambitious than some of the other musicians I’ve reviewed this past year. For real. Could just be a theory though.

Tim!

Playing With Fire (Megan Warkentin grad exhibition)

In those seemingly quite moments of exploration, when we’re all alone, and when we don’t know what we’re doing, that is when we might be the most alive. Consider this quote by Chuck Palahniuk, who often pulls from personal experience when writing his novels. –

Our real discoveries come from chaos, from going to the place that looks wrong and stupid and foolish.
Chuck Palahniuk, Invisible Monsters

In the month of October I released a couple of posts about a friend of mine. These posts supported an important interview I had conducted with my friend in the fall of this year. You see dear readers, she is graduating from the University of Alberta’s Faculty of Arts after a stint of approximately ten years in post-secondary education – her name is Megan Warkentin and she is a visual artist with a masters degree in painting.

Our interview was about the importance of exploration, whether inside the framework of a creative discipline, as it relates to the occupations of the mind or when considering the physical world and the items contained inside of it.

Megan has always been a creative individual, but it wasn’t until she went after her university education that she really focused in on visual arts… And now she is asking one of the hard questions of life over and over again in her art.

Why would someone risk their safety, health and potentially their life in the pursuit of stunts and dangerous activity?

What began as a number of experimental paintings that featured still images from YouTube videos of people performing dangerous stunts and the resulting aftermath, has slowly evolved into a process surrounding larger ideas of risk and exploration. Megan is fascinated by human behaviour, and wants to know why people set themselves directly in harms way, why other people are fascinated by this behaviour in the first place, and how those onlookers might react to the sport of British cheese rolling or ravine jumping. Inspired by artists like Kim Dorland, Peter Doig, Daniel Richter, and Tilo Baumgartel whose work showcases contemporary society in interesting ways, Megan wants to truly address the absurdity of adrenaline junkies through crude art, with a hint of the sublime and mystical in the mediums used.

08_warkintoncopy

This body of work culminates with an exhibition titled Playing With Fire between December 6-22 and January 30-7 at the Fine Arts Building gallery (1-1 Fine Arts Building, 89 avenue and 112 street, University of Alberta) and is the final visual presentation for Megan’s degree of Master of Fine Arts in Painting.

I realize it’s short notice dear readers, but if you want an opportunity to speak with Megan about her work, you should definitely check out the opening reception tonight, December 8th from 7-10PM at the FAB building. Otherwise the gallery hours are Tuesday to Friday 10-5PM, Saturday 2-5PM, closed Sunday, Monday, & statutory holidays.

I’m out of theories for the week my friends, but I hope you come back on Sunday for a new episode of Cross Talk.

Tim!