Visionary Storytelling (Byron Martin preview interview)


Every good project tells a story.

A story about goals, its members, deadlines, and what is required for completion. It also requires management to understand the story they need to tell, and to deliver it with gusto. Also, a REALLY good story follows a proper story arc, no matter if it’s an urban myth, a made-for-TV movie, a comic book or a stage play. Heck, even an improvised musical follows an outline to get to where it needs to be.

When you are in theatre (or any professional setting), you have the same kinds of responsibilities as any other business operator. You set a budget, plan out the year, and set meetings to ensure everyone is onboard as things happen.

No matter what you might think, communication and teamwork are at the centre of it. When you have a vision, and you bust your ass to see it happen, time movies along quite quickly. Every self-made business person will tell you this…

Learning to coordinate others and juggle the program is at the centre of it.

If you look at it in a very simple way, there are really seven major steps to consider as the process unfolds.

  1. Define project goals.
  2. Have daily, weekly, monthly deliverables.
  3. Set and then celebrate project milestones.
  4. Build an annual budget.
  5. Assign team members.
  6. Produce progress reports.
  7. Assess risks.


It seems like an easy set list, but not everyone is up for the task. Marrying a vision to an agenda is essential.

Byron Martin has a big vision for the Edmonton arts community, and while some of the projects his theatre company Grindstone Theatre puts on, like Henry V, might start out with conversations at a local pub, he’s learned to keep track of his ideas and commit to his vision with a myriad of tools.

He has intimately committed these steps to his vision and can do them without consciously thinking about it, and he has fun at the same time. Another good friend of mine, Byron Martin is a much needed presence in the Edmonton theatre scene.

I hope you enjoy this preview of our chat.

Yes, I am out of theories for the day friends, but I’ve got a vision for 2017 and this upcoming full length Byron Martin interview is a part of it. For now let’s focus on the good things which have been shared, and the exciting possibility of another week with Gord Downie.

That’s right, I just might have another album review coming which features the Tragically Hip frontman. But that could just be a theory.


Flunkies, Lackies, Toadies (Minions review)

It’s a common theme in our westernised lives to look out for ourselves and think about what we want out of life. Heck, I think that’s a global phenomenon, though parents and most leaders understand that thinking of someone other than yourself is for the greater good.

In other words, if someone were to tell you that they can’t think for themselves and they need to be led, even if it’s by a classical evil person, you’d probably tell me that person was nuts, right dear readers?

Well this week’s film review examines the perspective of the followers, the hangers-on, the servants, also known as the…




Minions (2015)
Cast: Pierre Coffin, Sandra Bullock, Jon Hamm, Michael Keaton, Allison Janney, Geoffrey Rush, Steve Carell
Director: Kyle Balda, Pierre Coffin
released on blu-ray December 8, 2015
****** 6/10


IMDB: 6.5
Rotten Tomatoes: 55%, Audience Score 51%
The Guardian: ****/*****

Camille Delamarre is a French animator, director, and voice actor. He is best known for co-directing the Despicable Me franchise with Chris Renaud, and as the voice of the Minions.

I am a huge fan of the original Despicable Me and I enjoyed the second film almost as much, while anticipating the next sequel, which is expected to come out in 2017. Did Coffin reach to far with this offshoot movie that focuses directly on the Minions or is it a solid entry in the legacy?

We are about to find out and as per usual, I will give you a bit of background on the story first. Well, actually I am going to tell you most of the plot, because it’s not that complex of a story.


The movie is narrated by Geoffrey Rush and starts by telling a story of how the minions (all voiced by Pierre Coffin) came into existence. They have been around since the dawn of sentient life, and have always sought out a master to serve, preferably an evil one.

We are treated to a sequence that shows the minions serving a number of masters over history (usually resulting in the accidental death of the master), until the minions meet up with Napoleon. This relationship ends pretty terribly and as a consequence the minions are exiled from France and end up in Antarctica where they build a community. It goes well for a time until the minions become agitated, lethargic, and eventually give up hope.

In the 1960s, one minion, Kevin, decides enough is enough, and recruits Stuart and Bob on an adventure to find a new master. They arrive at New York and after some time wandering around they found a secret villain TV channel advertising for Villain Con in Orlando. The trio hitch-hike a ride from a family of villains called the Nelsons (Michael Keaton and Allison Janney).

At Villain Con the minions meet Scarlet Overkill (Sandra Bullock), an infamous villain, who is also looking for henchmen. Bob wins the contest unintentionally and wins the job offer. Scarlet will let all of the minions become her henchmen on the condition that Kevin, Stuart, and Bob steal the royal crown from Queen Elizabeth II (Jennifer Saunders. Scarlet’s husband Herb (Jon Hamm) supplies them with tools for the heist, but when they break into the Tower of London they almost get caught, which ends up in a chase that has Bob crash in the Sword in the Stone, pull it free, and become King of England.

Scarlet is visibly upset by this, but Bob doesn’t want to be king and happily hands over the crown to her. Scarlet then goes back on her word and tortures the three minions. Which doesn’t work. So the minions leave the torture chamber and go back to apologize, just in time for Scarlet’s coronation, where they crash a chandelier on her head by accident.



And I’m gonna pause it right there.

Pros: The comedy is physical and silly and there is enough cultural content there to keep adults interested too. It’s a nice break from the typical fare of Despicable Me, and gives us a fix until the next one is due.

Cons: It feels a little long for what it is, which isn’t very much. I think this is because there isn’t enough punch to the story.

Runtime: 91 minutes

Points of Interest: Pierre Coffin voices ever single one of the minions in the movie. The leading three minions are supposed to be allusions to Gru’s three daughters. Bob’s bear Tim is similar to the one in the Mr. Bean stories.

If you are a fan of animated films in general, I think you will enjoy this one and it will be great for children, but there are definitely more interesting choices out there.




“Following” is a documented behaviour, and one which many people are prone to, because it can be scary to stand alone. But that doesn’t mean that solo work or working in a group are automatically good or bad behaviours. The Minions movie proves that three individuals can work well together and independently for the the greater good, and have fun doing it. Have a good night dear readers, and I’ll see you tomorrow with some wisdom.


High School Musical (Armin van Buuren, Embrace, review)

It’s really difficult for me to think of EDM and to not think of artists like House of Pain. It’s probably cause I was born in the 80’s and grew up in the 90’s and early 2000s. But whatever, ain’t no thing, but a chicken wing.

Feel it, funk it, amps it are junkin’
And I got more rhymes than there’s cops that are dunkin’
Donuts shop, sure ’nuff I got props from the kids on the Hill
Plus my mom and my pops
I came to get down, I came to get down
So get out your seats and jump around

I’ll just leave this link here, for your viewing pleasure.

For this week’s Melodic Monday, I AM going to fully expect you to jump around though.




Armin van Buuren – Embrace
released October 29, 2015
******** 8/10


Listening to the sixth studio release of Armin van Buuren has taught me a few things. (Which always makes me happy!) The first thing is that house/techno/trance and all of their iterations are still quite alive and well. For some reason or another I had convinced myself that that particular kind of music had started to die down in the early 2000s. Nope, it is still alive and quite well – Thank you very much.

Second thing. This dude really knows what he is doing within his field and has progressed from an artist into a full-on entity.

Seriously though, you cannot become this successful at DJing and producing your own music and not have an entire team helping you to maintain your image and global reach.

Now, some people would argue that requiring a “team” and influencers is effectively selling out, but when you listen to Embrace, I can almost guarantee you will not experience that sense of loss. I attribute it partially to van Buuren’s vision and secondarily to his genre.

You see, synthetic music is naturally quite polished in it’s representation. We could fight about the truth of this statement for hours, and I say this to both the advocates and the haters.

But it definitely is true that the sound which van Buuren is crafting here is a-typical of strings, brass, and drums, and so there is a perception that it is less organic to the ears.

Great! Now that we can agree on that idea, I’m going to tell you what I thought of the album. That’s the third thing. To be perfectly honest, I thought it was a lot of fun and covered a wide range of emotions for me. Which is often something I want in a record. You see, I want my music to either cover the entire human experience or I want it to fit a particular emotional or ideological theme. Yes, dear readers, theme is important to me in an album as well as it is in fine art, film, and writing.

And Embrace fits that theme fairly well as I’ve mentioned already. Songs like Strong Ones assure it.

Tracks like the eponymous opener provide a powerful entrance into the world that van Buuren sets out to create. The follow-up song Another You and other inclusions Face of Summer, Hands to Heaven, and Gotta Be Love play their cards a little bit more close to the pop deck. But those songs aren’t all strung up one after the next. There is a sincere choice being made and then offered. The songs flow in and out of cadence in a sort of roller coaster of sound. Indestructible in particular fits nicely where it has been placed.

The emotion can definitely be felt as you listen to the whole CD (or digital if you prefer).

And this feeling permeates through to the instrumental songs as well. Embargo is probably my favourite. It brings me back to my high school years, when music compilations like Happy 2B Hardcore ran the marketplace.

Some of the reviews I read have stated that Armin van Buuren is still relevant, but he is no longer king of trance. I would argue that music doesn’t always have to fit so closely to a prescribed definition in order to be worth listening to.

But don’t take my word for it, give it a spin yourself!




Sometimes I wonder about all of this raving and trancing though. You would have to have a wicked bad headache after a night of dancing so consistently and so furiously. Maybe that’s why some people do hard drugs.

Hold up.

I am NOT advocating you do drugs dear readers. I sure don’t myself. But that’s your decision. Let’s awkwardly move away from that thought… Would love to read your thoughts and theories on the EDM scene. Haha, ha, err ha.

But that’s all I’ve got for a Monday night! See you tomorrow my friends.