Grey Matter (Governance)


Decision making is hard, dear readers.

And sometimes implementing an easy decision really is the wrong thing to do, while implementing the complex decision turns out to be the right one. Unfortunately for all of us, life is not quite so simple as those black and white principles, and even Luke Skywalker is probably going to realize that going grey is the most pragmatic solution. But don’t take my word for it, read this theory about why jedi and sith are likely old news, and that by Episode IX’s end, we’ll likely see a new type of force user emerge victorious.

I hold that this theoretical decision making on Skywalkers part will come down to good governance. We cannot have light without dark, and if you increase one over the other, the secondary element must evolve in kind. But when we combine elements of light and dark, the contrasts give way for subtle shifts in grey and a much stronger range of tonality.

I personally believe this applies to how governments should operate as well. Well as much as I can say in 1000 words or less.

When public funded institutions conduct their public affairs and manage public resources in a responsible and effective way, they are enacting good governance. Those actions cannot be conducted only out of selfish needs nor can the patrons be so altruistic that they never stand up and fight for their people.

But what is governance anyway?

According to wikipedia, governance refers to

all of the processes of governing, whether undertaken by a government, market or network, whether over a family tribe, formal or informal organization or territory and whether through the laws, norms, power or language.

That means working with many different people of many different functions to organize and operate all of those functions in a way that benefits those people.

Not Just A Liberal’s Fancy-Free Dream

What this means to me is that we HAVE TO work together to ensure everyone’s voice is heard, and that decisions are made which always put safety and welfare FIRST and which are for the aid of as many constituents as possible. Good government operates as a sum of it’s parts, the light, the dark, and everything in between. The grey matter of the body.

As an example of support by representation, The Canada Council for the Arts exists primarily to ensure the Canadian people are given a range of public art projects regularly, by investing in the arts through grants and services which bolster the broad range of cultures which make up Canada.

That and they help to raise awareness for the arts too.

But this is just one example of many types of programs which exist in modern day governments, and which are key to the success and development of our communities in a state of global communication.

Programs exist for the disabled, for impoverished, for sports, and for education.


But, and I hesitate to share this, there is this notion out there that a great many conservative supporters like to say fairly often – creative types are bleeding hearts, and successful ones are supposedly so far removed from the real world that they cannot see the forest for the trees – but I strongly disagree with this notion.

And I don’t share this point lightly, because it is true that we can’t all be movie stars and music geniuses, a great many of us live our lives in the working class, and that ain’t so bad. But good governance should see through classism and recognize the issues at hand first and foremost, no matter what voice an issued is raised with.

Ashton Kutcher – Smart Cookie and Model Citizen

I originally planned for this post on governance (inspired by the Postconsumers response to the OECD index) to be about how artists can uniquely contribute to our communities in the voting process, and where supporting local initiatives and pitching in in ways other than with our pocket money DO make a difference… But then I ran across a tweet about Ashton Kutcher this morning.

In case you aren’t familiar, Ashton Kutcher got his start as a professional model before eventually breaking out into television and film as an actor, and then working his way into investment opportunities as a venture capitalist. He’s been involved in numerous startups over the years including Skype, Foursquare and Airbnb. He’s a smart cookie, though he plays a dummy on TV.

Probably the most impressive thing about him though, is that in 2009 he established an international human rights organization called Thorn with now ex-wife Demi Moore. It’s goal is to address the sexual exploitation of children and human trafficking on a global scale. I mention this because in the tweet that twitter user shared, the author acknowledged how ludicrous it was that Kutcher had to defend his profession as an actor before he could address a US senate committee on the successes of the software his company has developed to fight human trafficking.

He then explains how his technology will helps save thousands of lives, and how investing in it is necessary for us to commit to good governance.

I’m going to share a clip of his speech because I cannot do it more justice than Mr. Kutcher did himself.

theories Summarized

When we practice good governance, we are using our grey matter appropriately. And my hope is that by recognizing all human beings have the capacity for light, dark, and grey actions in-between, that creative professionals are not limited by their hearts, rather their strengths of language allow them to communicate what good governance is. At least, that’s the theory anyway.


Sigourney Weaver Approved (Finding Dory review)

Voice acting might not be getting the respect it deserves from the general public. Voice actors are the backbone of animated films and television, as well as great resources to be used in marketing and documentaries. And yet, you have to be a talented actor in order to achieve any measure of success at it.

If you think about it, voice actors don’t have other actors to use in framing their delivery, nor do they have sets and props to build a setting. And they don’t necessarily need to have a unique voice, but it does help to have a broad vocal range in really selling a feeling.

Take the voice actors in this weeks featured film review. Most of these men and women know how to hold a room.




Finding Dory (2016)

Cast: Ellen DeGeneres, Albert Brooks,  Ed O’Neill, Kaitlin Olson, Hayden Rolence, Ty Burrell
Director: Andrew Stanton, Angus MacLane
released on blu-ray November 15, 2016
****** 6/10


IMDB: 7.6
Rotten Tomatoes: 94%, Audience Score 86%
The Guardian: ****/*****


Andrew Stanton has had his share of director opportunities within his career at Disney Pixar – A Bug’s Life in 1998 as co-director, Finding Nemo in 2003 with Lee Unkrich as his co-director, WALL-E in 2008, his first live action film with John Carter in 2012, and now Finding Doy with Angus MacLane as his co-director. He also co-wrote all three Toy Story films and Monsters, Inc. Angus MacLane on the other hand, is primarily an animator who has just started to tread water (excuse my pun) in the shoes of director.

The question of course, is “do we really need a Finding Nemo sequel?” Without giving too much away too quickly, I will say this; Finding Dory is a beautiful if not unnecessary attempt at continuing down the line of thought that Finding Nemo already presented us with.

The film introduces us to a young Dory (Ellen DeGeneres), who is already suffering from short-term memory loss, worried that she’ll forget her parents, and that they’ll forget her at some point. Eventually she does get lost, but cannot get the help she needs to get back to her family, because of her memory failings, and so years later Dory is still lost and unable to recall her family. We are given a short sequence that showcases her first interaction with Marlin (Albert Brooks) and how they work together to find his son Nemo (Hayden Rolence). The movie takes us on a journey for Dory to find her family, which begins when Dory begins to pick up fragments of memories she didn’t know she had.

With the statement “Jewel of Morro Bay, California” on her lips and Sigourney Weaver’s voice in her head, Dory swims away after from home after an altercation with a squid puts Nemo at risk and Marlin at odds with her. Marlin and Nemo eventually realize that Dory is lost and go looking for her.

And so we witness two separate paths unfold one for the father and son, and a separate one for Dory, each meeting a host of new characters, like Hank the septopod (Ed O’ Neill), along the way in what one can easily describe as a typical quest story. And while there are many funny moments that lead up to the inevitable, if not somewhat obvious, conclusion, there is also a fair amount of CGI magic and good old fashioned heart.

Pros: This is a character story, focusing specifically on the personal challenges of Dory, identity, family, an array of characters with disabilities and how they deal with them. Its in those moments of mental exploration that Finding Dory is the most interesting.

Cons: The story does run very similar parallels to the original, which makes it difficult to see it as a pure sequel rather than a clone of what preceded it. On another level, ironically, it often feels like you are supposed to feel a certain feeling rather than organically fall into it.

Runtime: 1 hour 37 minutes

Points of Interest: This is the second time that Pixar has made a movie with no major antagonist, with the first film like that being Inside Out. The real reason Hank has only seven tentacles is because the animators realized a little too late that they could only fit seven on his body. His backstory was rewritten to account for the missing limb.

As I’ve already mentioned, Finding Dory is a fun sequel, albeit one that is often feels like an extended cut of Finding Nemo, and full of the same thematic ideals. It is very smart and has a great concept, but we’ve already been there, done that. It felt great over a decade ago, and is still entertaining today, but it’s not quite the same experience. And the animation is incredible, moreso than Finding Nemo even. But I wouldn’t put it up for animation of the year or as an animated classic.




If you want to become a voice actor, it helps to have some standard acting credits under your belt already, but the most important thing to consider is practice, practice, practice. Developing your talent over time is essential to a good delivery. If you pay very close attention to Ellen DeGeneres in this film, she manages to give a nuanced performance, and yet we never see her face, we only see Dory the royal blue tang fish. Its a testament to her ability to emote and why the film is entertaining, even if a bit derivative.

But what do you think, dear readers? Am I off the mark on this theory? Was Finding Dory an amazing film, continuing the great legacy of Disney Pixar rather famously?


Theatre Adventures (Fringe Festival)

When I was a kid my siblings and I used to love running around the department store, hiding from our mom, pretending we were ninjas, royalty, spacemen, and all kinds of other imaginary characters.

At the time, it made sense to shuffle through the crowd of shoppers and challenge our mother’s patience, but as we grew up we started to challenge that creative energies into various pursuits. I was interested in drawing and video, Ryan was excited about music and drama, Katrina was a poet and a piano player, and Neil was a lover of comedy and performance.

We didn’t know it at the time, but Neil was eventually going to participate in something much larger than himself, and become a member of a society of performance artists where his love of comedy and acting would make perfect sense for him. And now he is a regular on the Fringe circuit.

What the heck is Fringe timotheories?

The Surrey With The Fringe On Top

Well, every summer during the month of August a group of artists, performers, and curators get together to organize an international event that hosts over 800 creative types in something north of 200 shows across a 10 day period. That event is known as the Edmonton International Fringe Festival or simply Fringe for short. It is quite seriously the oldest and largest fringe theatre festival in all of North America.

It takes place in the heart of Old Strathcona and features a chain of participating permanent theatres of the area. For instance, The ATB Arts Barns, The Walterdale Playhouse, the Varscona Theatre, and the Catalyst Theatre are all staples of the event, but neighborhood churches and restaurants like El Cortez take on their share of performers in the system – which is designed to provide artists with a venue, technicians and ticketing services, all in all a great opportunity for those types of artists to get some more exposure.

The major goal of the festival is to promote theatre, but all kinds of artists put in bids to participate in the festival via the lottery system. Which is why the crowd is always so diverse every year, you aren’t guaranteed the same set of performers every year. The second goal of fringe is to promote the spontaneity available in exploring the festival and trying out all kinds of shows. There are festival guides available for purchase, show listings online and at the the venue ticket stations, and of course, festival maps to help you find your way.

The Edmonton International Fringe Festival can be found all throughout the Old Strathcona area from August 11-21 inclusive. Consider taking public transportation to get there as parking is limited and the streets will be PACKED! And if you want to check out my brother’s show, it’s called Drinking In America, presented by Ronin Theatre, and takes place at The Backstage Theatre. I’ve dropped the link for you here.

That’s all I’ve got for the week my friends, I hope you have an excellent weekend and I’ll see you on Sunday with a new Cross Talk episode!


This Art Is On Fire (Dealing With Burn Out)

Sometimes you work really hard on a project and then you see it take off! Which is amazing and inspiring and has all the good feelings that make creativity worthwhile. Recognition in other words, dear readers!

No matter how many artists I speak with, whether musicians, actors, visual artists or otherwise, they all say similar things about the importance of digging into the form you love with everything you’ve got and expecting a slow climb up that hill. Because while you may find opportunities right away, you also might be a victim of chance and have to wait for those accolades.

Which is legit.


This post is for those artists, the ones who wanted to succeed right away and didn’t, who work hard night and day to find their place in the world and put up their own time, potentially sacrificing their mental and physical health to do so. To carry that torch for the arts.

For everyone who has the courage to go the distance and shoot for their dreams, no matter what, this one’s for you.

Now, my original plan to start this post off right was to simply include a couple of lyrics from famous songs with the word fire in the song itself and then make a joke about the nature of fire and how it relates to success as a metaphor.

But fuck – there were like 150 plus songs to choose from, and I started to feel old once I realized that all of my “cool and new” references were from the 2000s and now effectively outdated (For instance, one of the examples I was thinking about was from the 2003 album Fire by Electric Six). So you’ll just have to accept this string of GIFs as my effort at peacekeeping – Because I’m also feeling burnt out from this process. Pun semi-intentional.

Mi6sWRs                                   gifyh1c46                                                william

Funny right?

Well, interestingly enough each of those GIFs represents a different scenario of burn out. Yeah, burn out. I’m switching to something serious.

A scary topic that not a lot of people talk about because they don’t understand the full-reaching effects it can have on an individual.

Burnout is the state in which one discovers they have chronic fatigue – It usually starts with a lack of energy and feeling tired quite often. But they will likely experience other symptoms too, which might include insomnia, forgetfulness and/or impaired concentration, physical symptoms like chest pain, heart palpitations, headaches and stomach pain, weakened immune system, loss of appetite, anxiety, anger, and depression. More on the symptoms in this article.

You see, the 1st image is the guy/gal/person who decides to embrace the pain and lean into it as it overtakes them. Then you have 2nd person who experiences the loss and complains about it while not doing anything either, the 3rd person sees the signs but pretends there is nothing wrong, and the 4th person, appropriately might I add, freaks out and does something about it.

Dear readers, let me say this in the most common of terms, you want to be that 4th person. Take the time to honestly assess the state you are in, the amount of stress in your life, and find ways to reduce it before it becomes too much. While burn out is a physical problem, unlike a cold or a hangover, it doesn’t go away over a matter of days, it can take much longer, because it hits two fronts at the same time – your mind and your body.

So what’s an artist to do about it?

Well you need to douse that fire quick or if you’ve already experienced burn out, clean up the ashes and start rebuilding. But for the sake of constructive criticism and because I hate to leave you without some wisdom, I’ll give you a short list of remedies you can use (taken from this article).

  1. Self-care. Get your energy back through salt baths, yoga, deep breathing, long walks in nature, and positive affirmations.
  2. Take a break. Dial back from what you aren’t interested about and take a break until you are ready to come back. Whether it’s days, weeks, or months.
  3. Check your trophy room. Look back at your history and identify your successes. Stop comparing yourself to others.
  4. Enlist support. Hiring someone or get a friend to help out.
  5. Reassess your goals. Rethink your dreams, visions, and goals.
  6. Seek new inspiration. Visit places you normally avoid or spend time with creatives you haven’t considered before. Children for example.
  7. Community. Find a tribe through a class, seminar, meet-up or a studio visit.

And if you want some more resources, look here for suggestions (1 2 3 4). There is definitely a lot more to be written about this subject, and I’ve just scratched the surface, but at the end of the day, no matter what your creative role, you HAVE to take care of yourself. Inspiration and passion are good motivators but discipline requires attention as well.

Now I’m out of theories for the day friends. I hope this post finds you well, and if not, it helps you get back in shape. I’ll see you tomorrow with something timely.