An Oasis of Greenery (Muttart Conservatory)

Have you ever wanted to visit ancient Egypt? The jungles of the Amazon, maybe? How about the Netherlands or even just heading south of the border to explore more Americana? Well I can tell you that I sure have.

As a primarily visual artist, I’m inspired by the world around me.

The challenge of course is that it costs an arm and sometimes a leg too to travel the world we live in. What’s an Edmontonian to do, dear readers? Well luckily, for my local readers, I happen to have a solution nestled right in the heart of the river valley.

Something which both shapes our landscape and is separate from it – The Muttart Conservatory.

Discover the Pyramids

The last time I visited the Muttart Conservatory was back in August of 2013.

A good time was had by all of our group. It was a visit with a purpose though. We were there for wedding photos for one of my oldest and bestest friends forever, Nicholas. My friend Nicholas (often known as Nick) and his wife Coral had their hearts set on getting photos in each of the different rooms of the Conservatory. When the day of the wedding finally arrived, and after the beautiful ceremony of course, we rolled up our sleeves, got in our vehicles and headed to the downtown core for city from The Oasis Centre on the west end. As the group entered each of the rooms, our photographer gave us direction, setting each of us up in turn to get the wedding shots needed. I’ll admit, I had not been to the conservatory in ages and so it was an eye-opening experience for me.

But I felt rushed. I wonder why?

PLUS we eventually found a way onto the roof, so no big deal. Well, except for the security breach.

All in all, it was a good day.

Then a few years later I visited once more with my girlfriend-at-the-time. Under less then auspicious conditions, and mostly to see the roof and outsmart the dinosaur, I convinced my partner-in-crime to attend a nighttime scholarly debate on the conservatory rooftop. This time I did get the better of the situation by outsmarting the dino cop, but unfortunately for you dear readers, that story is for a different post.

The Law of Conservation

The Muttart Conservatory really is a gem of Edmonton.

It offers a year round escape into an active garden, curated with plants from around the world. It has been around since 1976, which means that for over forty years, we’ve been able to enjoy the four garden displays on hand.

When I went to visit with my girlfriend Mysticque last Sunday, we made sure to visit the Arid, Temperate, Feature, and Tropical pyramids with equal measures of attention.

As a lover of succulents and cacti, the Arid room was easily my favourite of the four pyramids, with the Temperate and Feature rooms following closely behind. Of particular significance was the exhibit set up in the Feature room.

In celebration of the 150th anniversary of confederation, the Muttart has put on a Netherlands inspired displayed of Tulips. The reason for this being that each year since hosting the exhiled Dutch Royal Family during WWII, the Canadian government has been presented with thousands of bulbs as a show of gratitude. This year is no different, but additionally, thousands of tulip bulbs have been planted from coast to coast in celebration of Canada 150.

Not only does the Feature display rotate in this way five to seven times a year, The Muttart also hosts regular tours for visitors, and special programming for both children and adults in plant care and creativity with plants.

theories Summarized

The Conservatory is located at 9626 96 A Street. Accessible via Scona Road, Connors Road, and 98th avenue, this building is open every day of the year with the exception of Christmas. Plus it is open between 10am-5pm each day, and until 9pm on Thursdays. If you want to know more about the cost to visit, you should go here.

I highly recommend it, as there are hundreds of plants to see, and an excellent source of still life for all us creative types who are inspired by the world around them. At least, that’s my theory.


Obsessive Planning (Miss Sloane review)

The fact that we have tests to confirm women are being properly represented in film is an astounding thing, and simultaneously a disheartening one. I think this one deserves a pass.

Miss Sloane (2016)

Cast: Jessica Chastain, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, John Lithgow, Michael Stuhlbarg, Alison Pill, Mark Strong, Jake Lacy
Director: John Madden
released on blu-ray March 21, 2017
******* 7/10

IMDB: 7.2
Rotten Tomatoes: 71%, Audience Score 62%
The Guardian: ***/*****

Theatre and film director John Madden and I share the same birthday – April 8th. Not really relevant to this review, but a fun tidbit nonetheless.

He is probably best known for directing the Academy Award winning Best Picture film, Shakespeare in Love. After that would likely be The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel and its sequel, The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. But I think special attention should be paid to Mrs. Brown, the story of the relationship between Queen Victoria and Scottish servant John Brown, and the vastly underrated Proof, which is a story about madness and genius.

It’s even better than A Beautiful Mind, in my humble opinion. As for Miss Sloane, this is simply another matter of obsession. The movie centres around lobbyist Elizabeth Sloane (Jessica Chastain), who is known for her cut throat tactics and visible paranoia.

Opening with Sloane at a hearing under allegations of bribery, Sloane is asked by her company lawyer to stick to a script, but she eventually reacts to a particularly triggering comment about self-medicating for insomnia, which comes at the end of particularly salty line of questioning from the congressmen Sperling (John Lithgow) at the head of the investigation.

We soon realize that this is a flash forward and we are taken back to the point which started the whole investigation –  the moment when her firm is approached to attract women to use guns for protection. Sloane is against this and taking a job from Rodolfo Schmidt (Mark Strong) at rival lobbying firm, Peterson Wyatt, which is lobbying for universal background checks bill. Sloane takes all of her loyal employees with her, save her favourite Jane (Alison Pill), who openly refuses.

We also learn that Sloane is relentless in her career, having never established a long-term relationship, she hires male escorts like Forde (Jake Lacey) for “company.”

At Peterson Wyatt, Sloane puts team senior Esme (Gugu Mbatha-Raw), at the head of media, after learning Esme was a closet victim of childhood trauma associating with a school shooting. Esme doesn’t want to be typified, but at a crucial moment, Sloane reveals her past, in hopes of more support towards the bill. As a consequence, Esme is attacked by an arms supporter,but the attacker is then shot dead by another civilian with concealed gun.

The stakes continue to raise higher on both sides, and an inquiry is launched against Elizabeth Sloane through the orchestration of her former boss George Dupont (Sam Waterston) and frenemy Pat Connors (Michael Stuhlbarg). Jane is instrumental in providing the evidence that Sloane was bribing a senator with a vacation to Indonesia to overturn the bill opposing reducing taxes on imported palm oil for Asian governments.

Additionally they have found and bring in Forde, whom one of the opposing lobbyists witnessed Sloane talking with in a hotel lobby previously, in an attempt to slander her. Forde admits he is an escort, but when asked if he’s met Elizabeth before, he responds that he has, but never as a client.

As the hearings wind up, it becomes clear to both Sloane and Schmidt that the issues are losing public interest and that the bill will soon go cold. In a surprise reveal, Sloane admits that she planned ahead of the current outcome, and placed a mole within her old firm. Jane was there all along and gave Dupont the info he needed to slander Sloane. Sloane also used illegal surveillance to record Dupont blackmailing congressman Sperling. Sloane was willing to accept jail time in order to positively influence the bill movement forward.

Pros: The characterization Jessica Chastain puts out for us is so compelling that we are able to forgive the somewhat formulaic ending. Most interesting of all, no real stance is taken in either adopting or fighting against gun control. Miss Sloane is incredibly unapologetic.

Cons: The supporting cast feels somewhat wasted, often purely serving the purpose of driving Sloane’s story (and big reveal) forward. The plot could easily become dated within years, and thusly, this piece lost in the annals of film.

Runtime: 2 hours 12 minutes

Points of InterestScreenwriter Jonathan Perera was the only writer for the script. Jessica Chastain and John Lithgow worked together previously on Interstellar, but didn’t share any screen time then. Additionally Chastain and Mark Strong starred previously in Zero Dark Thirty.

Like so many other Jessica Chastain vehicles, this one demonstrates the raw talent and physical presence she is capable of bringing to the screen at any given moment. Lobbying is about foresight, Miss Sloane tells us at the open, and sure enough that is what we are there to witness. The subtle sense of sadness underpinning Sloanes power and position within her role are what make this a memorable performance, and despite the length of the endeavour, an engaging one.

theories Summarized

I think the rest I enjoyed this film, despite some of of it’s shortcomings really, is that Sloane is a modern day pioneer. She pushes her agenda through both force and manipulation, at the consequence personal relationships. The fact that this is something which happens in life regardless of gender is common, but on film it is uncommon, and this performance could have been phoned in.

But it wasn’t. It’s an intelligent and unyielding view of the workaholic.


An Orchestrated Album Made Effortless (Valerie June, The Order of Time review)


We need to find more light. Because the light shines brightest when we focus on it over the dark.

That’s the challenge musicians, singers, and songwriters face every day. How do you serve a greater purpose and cut through the darkness of monotony? I think this week’s album review might have an answer.




Valerie June – The Order of Time
released March 10, 2017
********* 9/10

Valerie June is an American singer, songwriter, and musician. She has a unique sound, which I realize is something of a cliche to say, but it’s true. June holds dear a mixture of blues, soul, and mountain music. But not just mountain music, there is a mixture of gospel, country, bluegrass and folk in there too.

This is the fourth outing for June and much like her third album, Pushin’ Against a Stone, June continues to explore the notion of quality music over innovation.

June works over each song slowly, building in nuance and an essential quality of care for her own vocals. It’s heavy in places, and airy in others, but never feels unnecessary or problematic. Starting off with soft opener Long Lonely Road, a saccharine exploration into salvation, June continues onward and upward, considering the very key elements of time, love, and music as we wander through her album. It an autobiographical track that is immediately intimate, but not a tell-all by any means.

Following this is probably one of my favourites of the album, Love You Once Made. Filled with organ sounds and shifting effortlessly between indifference and indignation, it describes the true feelings of a love lost. Luckily for us, this is only the beginning of the organ use – Shakedown is the opposite of what precedes it, upbeat and effervescent, it could have a place in any popular blues act of the day (read: The Black Keys). Next up is If And, another of my much liked tracks. In this one, June sways to the beat and rhythm while crooning away about the dangers of an unloved woman.

The whole album plays out this way, full of wisdom, and vocal intensity, June is doing what so many other acts out there seem to refuse right now, and that is to provide substance. Wonderment on Astral Plane, simmering heat on Man Done Wrong, and the consideration of intimacy on Front Door. These are just some of the themes explored throughout The Order of Time, but this album is most definitely something that will either grow on you or put you off, I can write that with confidence.

But what I’m most excited about in listening to this album is that Valerie June is black woman drawing from a wealth of musical history and managing to make something far cooler than anything I’ve heard in a quite some time, and she does it without concerning herself over political issues – the music delivers it best.






Valerie June continues to make music which separates itself from the mainstream while operating within it. This is a rare feat for any artist and worthy of our attention. But as I mentioned previously, it might not be for everyone, and that’s okay. I like that notion that light is cutting through the dark in due time.


Netflix and Take A Pill (timotheories presents: Watch Culture)

Internet culture is cool right? Reshoots and disputes and set leaks galore.

Oh wait, nope, that’s not cool at all.

It’s all just a hype machine and it sucks. Because legitimacy of so many of the films coming out right now aside (read: Justice League, Baywatch, Pirates of the Caribbean), we don’t need to spend hours upon hours of our time reading click-bait themed single paragraph articles from buzz sites, tweeting from similar newsfeeds that should be reporting on politics, and binging on YouTube video theories and opinions. I mention this because we’re talking about things which haven’t even come out yet.

It’s weird though, because culture has shifted.

You probably didn’t notice it, did you?

Yeah, funnily enough, the notion of hyping movies has been around for a while. You see dear readers, there used to be a time when we would get on a hype machine ahead of a release date, but we didn’t have a place to vomit all of our millions of ideas about it. And people didn’t capitalize on all of the theory, using their particular geek skills to funnel people Then the internet came along. And we lived a happy place between hype and geek culture for a few years.

So what happened and where’s the shift?

Culture Conundrum

Well, I think at some point publishers of ideas, and cultural icons realized that the volume of new content being created reached far beyond their own individual capacities to give opinions on it, so they instead choose to focus only on the new and glamorous, adding in their two cents as it were. Luckily for the vast majority of us, technology has shifted too and our attention spans for the new and novel are increasing, so we don’t have time to look at everything. We instead spend five minutes on one thing we care about, to then move onto another five minutes segment about the thing we care about.

Content creators benefit from this in a big way, and everyone is happy. Because we can all share in that hype machine, never really contributing anything in the way of constructive feedback and driving our subscribers to purpose.

Which is why I decided to introduce a new series of video posts called WatchCulture into the mix. In this series, I will be sharing brief recommendations on movies which have been around for more than a year, and which I think you should watch for your own cultural edification. These are going to be short videos on film, music, art, etc., which fit into the cultural norm, but the difference is that instead of saying netflix and chill, I’m going to ask you to take the red pill.

theories Summarized

You can thank André Lindo, the producer of my Cross Talk series, for this idea, and a greater insight into my own thoughts and feelings on what culture we should be consuming at any given time. Expect to see Watch Culture episodes cropping up every week, very soon.

But for now, I’ve no more theories to share. Only well wishes and a hope for a new tomorrow.




His Masters Voice (Goodbye HMV)

I fell in love with the girl at the rock show. With the girl at the rock show.

I’ll never forget tonight. With the girl at the rock show. I’ll never forget tonight. With the girl at rock show.

I’ll never forget, tonight.

Remember that song? It came out way back in 2001. The year that I first began to buy my own music and slowly building up my record collection (read: cd collection). From DMX, to Jimmy Eat World, Weezer (the green album), No Doubt, Nickelback and yes, Blink 182, this was a stellar year for me.

I can’t believe that I’m about to lose it on account of a store closing.

End of an Era

Here’s the thing dear readers, that record store closing is not just one store, but a chain of over one hundred stores across the country. The parent company will still be there when it’s all said and done, but for a number of reasons, HMV Canada, of HMV UK lineage will be gone after April of 2017.

Seriously though, I’m having a hard time accepting the fact that something which has been a central part of my life for almost two decades is about to go the way of the dodo. Something which allowed me to carefully collect almost six hundred albums by way of aisle browsing, slowly researching, and interacting with employees that each had a love of music all their own.

Seeing the engine of the closeout move at full steam ahead, via representations like the banner below on their website have continued to push my heart to break, because while HMV (rarely known as His Masters Voice) had plenty of deals, it was their broad catalogue of music and film which drew in true collectors and lovers of the treasure hunt.

Closing Time

I would spend hours perusing the stacks of the HMV West Edmonton Mall location, and as I got older, I started to branch out and visit locations in Southgate, South Edmonton Common, Kingsway, and Bonnie Doon to find albums I wanted but couldn’t afford at the time of initial release.

Youth of today are likely not going to experience music in the same way that I did, nor did I versus generation x’ers and baby boomers before me, and while that does make me sad in a way, I hope it opens us all up to a more diverse mix of music overall. Acceptance and celebration of cultural differences was accomplished for me by testing out new music regularly.

It can be difficult to “stumble upon” a random artist unless you are diving through the bins, but what’s a teenager to do when that option no longer exists? I guess you just evolve and start using Spotify, iTunes, and Google Play like the rest of the mix?

theories Summarized

This isn’t the first time I’ve said goodbye to something I loved, nor will it be the last.

Yet, there is a glimmer of hope.

The music junkie culture of years past is likely gone, but that doesn’t mean music consumption is altogether deleted. How we consume music is changing, there are more methods now, and buying online will likely be a primary one. But people still want a physical item, and Sunshine Records might have the cure.

I think this might be start of something beautiful, a resurgence of the musical treasure hunt, and this time Sunshine Records promises to offer a mix of vinyl, cds, musical merchandise, and apparel. Hopefully they’re not too late to the game. And that’s my theory.