Yuk Yuk's

Yuk Yuk's

Hailing from Sackville Estates trailer park in Nova Scotia (but half Newfoundlander – her father’s from Rocky Harbour), Nikki Payne has come a long way and has had one hell of a ride, or at least one hell of a time riding it! That can almost be taken literally as it relates to this interview even. Payne was delayed as a result of a fender bender the day of, but still she pulled through! She accredits the unforeseen as being what ultimately got her into her line of work and says herself that she’s “still not sure if it is a career,” as she laughs. “[It was] a total fluke! My whole career. I was a mascot for my college athletic teams; that led to all this.”

From mascot to Mercer, Payne got her big break on Rick Mercer’s Made in Canada. “He’s given me a lot of breaks,” Nikki admits. Just as recently as March 2009, Payne was back on the CBC show circuit as a guest of George Stroumboulopoulos on his show, The Hour. When she was asked about what she thought about The Hour experience, her only comment was, “George is HOT!!!! Such a big crush.”

Nikki Payne

Nikki Payne

Of course, Nikki and George share similar roots. Many are familiar with her signature delivery of humour on Much Music’s Video on Trial, but she’s enjoyed plenty of other network television success not to mention a few awards, nominations, and national comedy tours! With so much going on, there was just too much excitement to choose from, “they’ve all been highlights because I’m just so happy to be doing this. But, Just For Laughs was a big dream come true; Last Comic Standing on NBC was this out of the blue thing that was great and Comedy Inc. was like summer camp!! It was me just getting to hang out with people who I really I like and get paid for it!”

Every comic has their own approach. Their own style. With Nikki, her style cannot be missed. Unsure of how to really define her own style, Payne offers, “I hump things. There is Ethnic comedy, female comedy and alternative comedy. I think I’m observational, I observe an object; and then I hump it.”

Surprisingly, everyone is not a fan. Ever curious as to whether any spitfires created from Video on Trial commentaries? Nikki didn’t offer any examples but did reveal, “there is the “I Hate Nikki Payne” Facebook group. Maybe you could ask them…wait don’t!!”

But still, she keeps at it and the reason being is simply put. “Honestly, I have no skills. I know that’s a hack line but really, no skills.” But when asked for advice for emerging performers, the sensible and smart Nikki comes out, “do it because you love to make people laugh. Don’t let your ego ruin it.”

Nikki Payne at Yuk Yuk's

Nikki Payne at Yuk Yuk's

There is a serious side to her as well, like anyone. When world issues were brought up, she exclaimed, “Issues??? Like global warming??” and also shared that a real defining moment which only took place recently when she gave her father a kidney in 2008 elaborating, “that changed everything.”

She is currently at work on a one person show; in fact it is being called My Big Fat Donated Kidney; so from life experience comes inspiration, perhaps. Payne is an observer after all! Up next in Nikki Payne’s immediate future though, are two held over appearances at the St. John’s Yuk Yuk’s (April 23 – 25 / April 30 – May 2) which are not to be missed. In her words, up next for Nikki is “world domination… and a trip to Signal Hill!

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Jessica Mealey and Katie Burke found certain women being ignored when it came to fashion. After plenty of work, “lot of laughs,” and “a few decorating disasters,” the duo are set with Structure Wardrobe and Style. Mealey says one of their biggest challenges was the wait, but they learned patients. “We had amazing assistance locally with the [funding] process, but it was difficult to wait for meetings, paper work, applications, while in our minds, the wheels were in constant motion!” Jokes aside the major lesson learned was that, “dedication and confidence take on a whole new meaning when starting up a business.”

The idea is service. Structure plans to give its clients attention, “it’s about embracing your size, learning to dress for your body, and bringing clients appropriate clothing that enables them to achieve a desired look. People can expect trendy hip clothing made for them; clothing that is designed well and flatters each and every shape.”

Structure has furnished its racks with designer clothing by “researching plus size women; what they find most appealing, and what they feel is missing from the existing plus size stores.” Then the two took off; Mealey jet-set away to a plus size fashion expo in Toronto, taking in runways and meeting designers. “Katie spent some time in New York visiting showrooms and networking to find out what’s hot and what the latest trends are in plus size fashions.”

Most of what they’ve sourced in terms of product is American, though one line hails from Toronto; that’s not to say they’re not open to more Canadian content. “We’d love to find a local designer who was interested in creating some pieces. We’ll also be looking into local accessory designers and local artists/photographers to display their work in our space.”

Everything from belts to jewellery will be available to accessorize and the ladies plan to offer up some specialty lingerie and undergarments in the near future.

Worried all this sounds a bit too lavishly expensive? Mealey assures that “Structure has something for everyone.” The price ranges are variable and while still designer, they plan to carry casual wear along with the career and high fashion lines.

Located in Churchill Square, the boutique will offer “a very modern, yet very comfortable” atmosphere with “a large retail space, seating area and a more separated studio room for make-up applications and consultations.” Burke and Mealey wanted to go for “the feeling of an exclusive women’s club.”

Still striving to offer women even more, Structure will offer “makeup for all women, for any occasion,” with regular application ($50.00) or by airbrush ($70.00). They’re currently only offering the service but eventually plan to offer full makeup lines. For those Brides out there wondering, Structure will do group bookings for makeup applications and will also do special orders for gowns through their designer suppliers.

Structure Wardrobe and Style opens May 1st at 11:00am with the Grand Opening on May 2nd in the evening complete with refreshments and a fashion show previewing this season’s hottest looks.

Yesterday’s Earth Day installment of Ellen featured a very eco-friendly set of gifts for lucky viewers and audience members.  Everything from bikes to blow dryers.  But there was one particular product that completely stood out from the rest and everyone should own one (of course, though I say this, I do not yet own one myself).  But, the concept is fantastic at least!

Go Green - Rusk

Go Green - Rusk

The giveaways started and truthfully I barely remember the first ‘smaller’ items that were dealt out.  The first one that really caught attention was a new combo from Rusk.  The hair care mega line has gone eco-conscious with a new Go Green line that has launched with a hair dryer and straightener.  What’s so special about a hair dryer?  This one uses up 26% less energy but still has the same fast airflow and intense heat people know, trust and expect from Rusk.  Plus, it’s made entirely out of recycled materials and the printing is even done in a soy-based ink.  Same goes for the straightener, minus the hot air blowing of course.  But for the straightener, it heats up in seconds (reducing usage time) and has a 10 minute hibernation feature if you’re the type to neglect turned on plugged in things (though this would be a scary practice and isn’t recommended).  The heating plates themselves also have a petroleum free coating on them so they’ll last nice and long without being harmful during the production process.

Activeion

Activeion

The real star of the give away though was a product called Activeion.  Like Red Bull, this is a single UPC brand, but like Red Bull, this product has serious potential.  Imagine never, ever ever, needing to buy another cleaning product.  Ever.  Now, imagine replacing all your cleaning products with water.  Activeion makes it possible.  It basically looks like a regular squirty bottle on steroids, made from a polycarbonate blend which will last ages.  The water reservoir part can hold up to 500ml of water and there is a eco-friendly long lasting rechargeable battery in the base to make it all work.  The battery charges the regular tap water slightly and specialized nozzle that is attached transforms the charged water by passing it through an ion exchange to create an oxygen-rich mixture of positive and negative nano-bubbles.  Now when you spray using the press and hold button (no trigger fatigue) the activated water will attract dirt like a magnet and lifts it from any surface, enabling it to be easily wiped away.  Not only would you want one of these things at home, but imagine the long-term, not to mention eco-friendly, cost savings that it would take care of for restaurants, airports, universities, schools and the list goes on.  This little guy will set you back by $299.99 though, but it’s an investment and really, you’d pay that for a good vacuum.

Biosphere Bakeware

Biosphere Bakeware

While we’re talking about interesting enviro-products, another company called Biosphere Industries launched a line of compostable baking ware in December.  It’s been slowly getting out into the marketplace mostly being used commercially, but their website does allow you to order samples for a fairly reasonable price ($3.25 – $8.99).  These have a multi-year long shelf life which is surprising but will biodegrade in 40 days outside.  They can be used in ovens (up to 420ºF) and microwaves safely and can also be frozen and still not go soggy.  Discovering this cool new way to bake was as a result of flipping through a Packaging Digest magazine which also had a couple of other neat new products that will pop up on shelves in the near future.

New Kelloggs Box

New Kelloggs Box

From environment saving to space saving, Kellogg’s is introducing a shorter fatter cereal box for 2009.  It’s only available in some test markets for now, but this change is probably one of the most monumental to the world of cereal in a very long time.  The previous items highlighted have been primarily sold with the ‘green’ approach, but that’s not to say the environment is less of a concern here.  This shorter stubbier box uses 8% less material then its processor.  The test phase will likely run for six months or so before this space saving alternative becomes globally available – pending consumer support.

Colgate Clear Tube

Colgate Clear Tube

The last new innovative approach to an already familiar product that to put under the spotlight is from Colgate.  Not particularly eco-conscious or space saving, there is a neat convenience factor.  One of the most annoying things in the world for just about everyone is the fact that you have no idea where the toothpaste is in the tube or how much is left once it’s past a certain point.  A packaging company called Sealed Air has developed a new completely clear tube for the Colgate line of products!  One more of life’s little frustrations all taken care of!

Conversations by the water cooler at work usually tend to revolve around the previous night’s tv line-up or the latest headlines – depending on where you work.  Even at my office, those are formidable topics at any given moment.  But, one afternoon last week the topic up for discussion was memorable Family Guy one-liners which some how evolved into sound effects used in television shows and movies.  Interestingly enough, we were all on the same page before the first example was even thrown out – we all were about to reference those crazy sound effects that you think you hear in just about every single thing you’ve ever seen.  The one I’d noticed and triggered the next phase of conversation with was that female voice you hear on a police radio as the squad car pulls up to scene X.  Then someone mentioned the Star Wars scream (as he referenced) it, so out of curiosity, we turned to Google so that we could bring what we were referencing to life (and also just to confirm that we weren’t a. crazy and b. hearing things).

Turns out, that Star Wars scream is actually called the Wilhelm scream and sure enough – we weren’t crazy.  The search revealed that not only was it used multiple times; it was used so often that people have enough material to compile two and a half to four minute long montages!  Films like Sin City, Batman, Lord of the Rings, Team America, Toy Story, Kill Bill and to bring it full circle, even Family Guy has paid tribute to the Wilhelm scream.

So where did the name come from?  To find out, you need to go back to the 1950’s.  The first film, of the now 140 which use the effect, was made in 1951 and was called Distant Drums, which eventually saw a number of soldiers get attacked by an alligator slinking around in the murky everglade waters.  A total of six screams were recorded after the scene to be cut in later, under the recording title “man getting bit by an alligator, and he screams.”  Ultimately, it would be the fifth of the six recorded that would be used in that part, though takes four and six, along with a repeat of five were used earlier in the same movie.

The Wilhelm’s fame came along with Ben Burtt who was the sound designer for the Star Wars films.  Burtt re-discovered the sound effect mislabelled as, “Man being eaten by alligator,” and decided it was perfect for how a Stormtrooper would sound falling off a ledge in Star Wars IV: A New Hope.  For the sake of reference, it was renamed the Wilhelm scream after Private Wilhelm, who was a character in 1953’s The Charge at Feather River.  But that still doesn’t answer who’s voice it is.

Burtt took it a step further to find out and after going through papers at Warner Brothers, was able to determine that it likely belonged to singer/actor Sheb Wooley who had an uncredited role in Distant Drums but was also called back in a small group of actors to record a series of vocal additions during post-production.

Bird's Nest Soup

Bird's Nest Soup

Later this same day, over some celebratory cake for a colleague, the conversation turned to rare delicacies that were really ‘bizarre’ (not the disgusting delicacies – everyone talks about those).  One of the folks in our office happens to have an Asian background being originally from Hong Kong and a long time ago, enlightened me about Bird’s Nest soup.  So, this is what I decided to offer up to the group during this conversation.  This soup has been made for 400 years and what’s a bit bizarre about it, besides its name?  The fact that it’s actually made from a bird’s nest!  The swiftlet to be exact.  They’re mostly collected throughout Thailand from White-nest and Black-nest swiftlets who live in caves and can generate a nest in 35 days.  The highest destination markets for these nests are Hong Kong and the United States where a kilogram of the white nest would go for about $2,000.00 USD and the red-blood nest would be about $10,000.00 USD.  Per serving, that translates to $30.00 – $100.00 a bowl!

Swiftlet Nesting House, Thailand

Swiftlet Nesting House, Thailand

The industry has become so huge that concrete nesting houses have been built to give more venues for the birds to make the valuable nests in.  While it’s appearance looks somewhat like a prison, investigating the species of bird revealed that they’re not the least bit endangered.  The soup is said to have health benefits as well that include aiding digestion, raising libido, improving voice, alleviating asthma, and improving overall focus and immune support.

From screams to soup, there’s a lot more that you can talk about with your coworkers now around the water cooler besides the most recent episode of your favourite primetime show.

But, if these two items aren’t good enough conversation starters, you could combine them.  How does that make sense?  Check out this bird that has the vocal range to mimic everything around it.  It’s called the Lyre Bird, and this clip was around the office following the swiftlet / bird’s nest soup discussion as another ‘interesting bird’.  The debate is still continuing at work as to whether or not the chainsaw stretches the truth too far beyond belief, but I think this bird’s legit and awesome either way!

The (unfortunate) news came down today from the Malawian judge handling Madonna’s adoption request for a young girl named Chifundo James (which translates to Mercy in English) who is only 4 years old.  Ultimately the decision was chalked up to being due to the residency requirement and the fact that the judge felt the child was being “well taken care of” in the orphanage – this according to Zione Ntaba who is the spokesperson for the Malawi Justice Department.

Madonna and Lourdes in Malawi

Madonna and Lourdes in Malawi

Madonna, 50, filed for the adoption following the suggestion from many of her family’s Malawian friends who felt that David Banda would do well to have a sibling from the same place, combined with her own desire to help further.  Madonna faced fierce criticism throughout the adoption process in round one when David, who was adopted in 2006, first joined the family as Lourdes (12) and Rocco’s (8) new brother.  David, at only 13 months, had been placed into an orphanage by his father after the infant’s mother had died.  The same issues were at play back then as well, mostly regarding the fact that the country requires permanent residency of a future adoptive parent for 18 – 24 months.  Madonna and her lawyer, Alan Chinula have had to handle cross-fire from those that accuse her of using her fame, power and money to bend the laws of the country but Chinula believes there’s no reason to lose sleep this time around either, according to an NBC report.  Some public opinion stabs harder suggesting foreign adoption proves ignorance to children in need on home soil for a good home to stomach-turning disgusting allegations of “buying” children as accessories.

As for the argument that there are ‘plenty’ of children on this side of the Atlantic to adopt, there are many – this is true.  But the number’s pale in comparison to the dozens of countries that have hundreds of thousands in need – arguably in much worse conditions that are significantly more life threatening.  This is especially the case when considering a country like Malawi where the average life expectancy is 47 in a country where the entire population is 13.9 million, according to UNICEF.  Not to mention the fact that a million of those people are living with HIV/AIDS and are aware of it, not withstanding the segment of the population that is unaware of it based on information from the United States Agency for International Development’s papers on Malawi.  Some more startling numbers – 91,000 of those with HIV/AIDS are children and more then 500,000 children have been orphaned because of HIV/AIDS.

Madonna and David in Malawi, 2009

Madonna and David in Malawi, 2009

There was a media circus surrounding the adoption of David and it’s happening all over again.  Those that argue Madonna’s fame helped her swoop down and pluck up third-world children are obviously not seeing the other side of the coin and how incredibly difficult it must make it.  Adoption is a very rightfully deeply scrutinized process, but add on the international microscope over a celebrity and its that much worse.  Essentially, this adoption (and presumably any others similar to it) is being stopped because of a residency requirement.  Something very few third world countries have as part of their adoption laws – because its an act that should be encouraged not made more difficult.  Yes, the correct investigative measures must be taken to ensure permanent safety in placement – but moving to Malawi for up to 2 years makes any adoption exceptionally difficult.

It’s not like this is just a ‘hobby’ to her, she’s also invested an abundance of time and money in her effort to spotlight the country and its needs in her documentary I Am Because We Are, which was produced and promoted through the Raising Malawi organization as well as shown on select screens in North America.

Raising Malawi

Raising Malawi

When this case is considered especially with the fact that Madonna has established an international agency (Raising Malawai) to aggressively work for the protection, health, education and welfare of children in a country obviously chosen based on need – along with the fact that she’s invested personal finances in building educational institutions and infrastructure, the denial becomes even more difficult to accept so easily.  And this is not a point made in light of “she did this so she deserves that,” it’s a perfect example of the fact that Madonna is putting her money where her mouth is.

When millionaires, celebrity or not, are publically ‘owned’ there is always criticism of chartable contributions – mainly due to a lack thereof.

No less, the public opinion within the country, of its people is one of support for the adoption.  Capital FM which broadcasts in 5 cities throughout Malawi, including the capital, Lilongwe, said 99% of the callers to the station on Thursday wanted the adoption approved.

Frankly, it’s all a bit foolish.  Whatever way you cut it, if there is a family – any family – that is financially and morally stable to raise an orphaned child … and that family has the desire to invest time, love (and yes, money) into raising that child with every facet of a good life (as a private citizen or at varying levels of ‘fame’) then that adoption should be fully considered to the very finest point before just saying no.  The point is, famous or not and rich and powerful or not, Madonna’s desire to adopt has no right to be so heavily and openly criticized.

In any event, whether or not the timing was strategic, YouTube’s Screening Room feature section is now broadcasting the entire documentary on demand from the website and the 1h29min clip is included in this entry.

A debate sparked amongst friends recently on the topic of Facebook versus Twitter. Conveniently, social marketing happens to be a big part of what my ‘day’ job covers in a day, not to mention that just a few days earlier I’d read an interest blog post by a fellow WordPress blogger named Robert Scoble. The title of his piece was something along the lines of why Facebook has never listened and isn’t about to start now.  It made me think, triggering interest in reading the entry mainly because it was only a few days prior that the whole graphical user interface (GUI) for Facebook users had changed for the third time.

I remember when it happened the first time and how outraged and frustrated I was.  Emails off to Facebook admins, posts about it in my status and MSN name.  Rebel, rebel, rebel.  The second time I kind of just ‘delt with it’ and sucked it up, tried to learn it and just get a handle on where everything had moved to.  By the time this third revision hit, I just accepted it and went about my business.  But – it wasn’t until I read the above mentioned blog entry that what Facebook was actually doing made sense.  I’m somewhat surprised and let down by myself at the same time for not really working it out sooner but not necessarily to the level of detail that Scoble did with the seven phases of development for Facebook (they’re currently attempting to get from phase four to five).

Mark Zukerberg

Mark Zukerberg

Scoble makes some very interesting points in his entry; makes some moderately daring prophetic casts and reveals a few basic numbers that just completely make sense.  He asserts that Mark Zuckerberg is right and smart to not listen to the (literally) millions trying to tell him how to run his business.  Scoble makes a strong case for the fact that it cannot be forgotten that Facebook is a business and goes so far as to suggest that the moves Zuckerberg has made over the last few weeks with this “phase shift” so soon after the previous one “will be remembered for decades.”

I’m not so sure about “decades” but it’s clear that Zuckerberg is serious and means business.  We’re talking about a 24 year old who a year and a half ago managed to put a $240 million price tag on only 1.6% of Facebook shares.  Who had the money and keen interest to shell out that much for such a small share?  Who other then Microsoft, which of course propelled Google to make an offer.  But, this old news aside, what should be noticed here is the valuation.  Based on that transaction, it would put Facebook’s worth – back then – at $15 billion!  And, that’s before it really truly invests itself into welcoming a proficient blending of business with people as Scoble suggests in phase five.  Scoble’s point that Zukerberg’s sitting on a goldmine couldn’t be truer.

MySpace

MySpace

Then you come to the Facebook / Twitter crossroads and you can kind of toss MySpace into that intersection as well, but less so then ever before.  It’s surprising actually that the clunky and difficult GUI for MySpace has remained pretty much the same.  In my migration to Facebook from MySpace years ago, that was one of the things I was truly appreciative of once I’d gotten it all done.  Things are easier to do and deal with in the lighter and cleaner Facebook aesthetic. Also interesting is that a 2007 article in Time magazine called MySpace vs. Facebook: Competing Addictions, indicated that Facebook and MySpace actually attract compleatly different socio-economic audiences.  It noted that Facebook users had an average annual income that hovered around $60,000.00 US, compared to MySpace which had 12% more users then Facebook who earned less annually.

But back to Twitter, which seems to be the more ‘active’ competition for Facebook now a days.  Even looking at these two, Twitter doesn’t really have a hope of eclipsing Facebook anytime soon.  It does however have the faster rate of growth between the two , but it cannot match the fact that Facebook collects between 200,000 and 700,000 new users a day.  And, it’s highly unlikely that Twitter will manage to boost its 10 million users to the 180 million user threshold that Facebook’s achieved.  The logical thing to do, one would think, would be to just consume the ‘competition’ which is exactaly what Zukerberg tried to do as I learned through Scoble’s follow up blog entry that did a good job of proving why Facebook was lucky as hell it missed out on buying Twitter.

Furthering the fact that Facebook is blending people and business for phase five of its developmental stages, Scoble makes a comparison that Facebook will become like the Yellow Pages for people and Twitter is the white pages.  It makes sense, Twitter’s no where near having Facebook’s ability to not only directly market to people – but to market what they specifically want to them based on their likes and dislikes.  In the future, instead of making consumer choices based on Joe Blow’s ‘professional’ opinion, Facebook will potentially revolutionize business because the immediate search results on everyone’s mobile device will include multiple reviews of trusted Facebook friends.  It’s like the promise land of interactivity for the Yellow Pages.

Twitter

Twitter

Compared to Facebook, Twitter seems mono-chromatic, in terms of its abilities and its usefulness.  Many have already previously pointed out that Twitter is essentially a stream of status updates.  But, it’s amazing how so many people use it differently then how they use the same tool on Facebook.  For some reason, when people “tweet” they’re all the more active about it and that, for the most part, is really the only difference.  The mental correlation when you hear “Facebook” is networking, rediscovering old contacts, interaction – between everything and everyone.  But, the mental correlation when you hear “Twitter” is almost like a free thought association writing exercise where you end up with a list of the most random, unassociated thoughts or comments.

It certainly seems making Twitter profitable in the long term is less clear.  Twitter has its uses and you can even update your Facebook status via Twitter, so there’s some interactivity going on.  But, the ultimate ‘purpose’ of Twitter and determining how the information it provides is useful as a product is yet to really be seen.  For now, Facebook and this blog are more then satisfying my social media and marketing needs and Twitter won’t be something to really consider for a while – if ever.  Though, I confess that I’ve recently added LinkedIn to my collection of online social marketing tools, but that’s another entry!

Beni Malone as Greta

Beni Malone as Greta

When Martin Sherman‘s Bent premiered in 1979, audiences were still largely unaware of what happened to pink triangles in concentration camps. “Survivors didn’t talk about it, because in Germany homosexuality was still against the law when the war ended,” director Sandy Gow of c2c theatre points out. Now, three decades later, it has carved out a position of prominence amongst its contemporaries.

“The play always feels immediate to me. Most days I don’t even think of it as a period piece,” Gow admits. “It’s full of energy, and even though it’s set against one of the worst events in history, it’s allowed to feel good sometimes. I still remember reading the first scene and laughing out loud. We need those moments; otherwise the ending would be too hard.”

Bent is about a “self-indulgent, charming” character named Max who is on the run from the SS in Berlin following the Night of the Long Knives in pre-war Germany.  He is accused of homosexual relations, eventually caught and relegated to Dachau.  Gow approached the script’s serious subject matter knowing, “it was important to address it openly and honesty, but not to drown in it.”

Gow specifically noted the talents of Andrew Whalen, Calvin Powell and George Robertson who have taken on the roles of the Gestapo, SS Guard, Officer and Captain. “Sherman didn’t shy away from the brutality these men inflicted, so we’ve jumped into the deep end with him. Working with violence and weapons onstage has been part of the experience. It’s important for it to not overwhelm the play, but the physical danger of the time has to live alongside the love story.”

Before the casting process, Gow already had her Max in mind and wanted Philip Goodridge for the role.  Interesting considering Sherman also had the actor whom he wanted to cast in that role in mind as early as initial drafts – Sir Ian McKellen.  Gow confessed, however, that “finding Horst was a challenge since the relationship between the two prisoners is thorny but extremely intimate at times.”

Bent Poster

Bent Poster

Ultimately, Jon Montes’ memorable audition led him to the part and Gow couldn’t be happier, gushing that “his Horst brings out the best in Max,” which is the best anyone could hope for in a loving relationship, regardless of surroundings. “This is a play about Max embracing who he is in the face of hatred and cruelty and being strong enough to feel the things he so desperately tries not to.”

Bent is known for one of the greatest love scenes of all time, despite the fact that there is no touch at all and Gow says that Goodridge and Montes have been “fearless” about approaching the intense moments.

The show’s strong cast has fully committed to the show as well.  Gow’s favorite aspect of the show is that the audience never leaves Max and other characters weave in and out, exposing glimpses that show how they all effect, love and change Max. “There was a lot of excitement and many that auditioned already had copies of the script or had previously studied it. When I asked Beni Malone to play Greta, he already had his copy on the shelf and Mack Furlong had been to the original production in 1979.”  Rounding out the cast are James Hawksley and Keith Pike.

The set, designed by Sam Pryse-Phillips and lit by Brian Bishop, allows for the show to move through a number of transitory settings that include an apartment to a bar, park to forest and a train to the concentration camp. The sound design was created by Shannon Hawes.  c2c theatre’s presentation of Bent will run from April 1-5 2009 in the Basement Theatre with a PWYC matinee on Saturday, April 4th at 2pm. Tickets are $20.00 and are on sale at the Arts and Culture Centre Box Office or order them by calling 729-3900. In c2c theatre tradition, they invite those attending on opening night to stay after the show for a small reception with the cast.

When Terri Andrews initially did The Rocky Horror Show at The Majestic back in 2002, Phil Goodridge “was absolutely rotted.”  The show he’d waned to be a part of since being 13 years old was finally here and he was heading back to Toronto for university and couldn’t audition.

He would get his chance six years later but not right away.  When auditions happened for Divas Do Broadway II, the number Sweet Transvestite was in the line up and Goodridge had his sights set on Franknfurter.  After making it known (well known) that he wanted the part, Andrews was surprised, but cast him as Riff Raff for Time Warp to see how far he was willing to go.  Clearly Goodridge delivered because after the official Rocky auditions, he “got a call from someone looking for Frank and it was Terri,” sharing that he “lost [his] mind when she said it.”

Phil Goodridge

Phil Goodridge

Not long after Goodridge went out and signed up with a gym to get ready.  “There’s not a lot of coverage in those outfits! I’ve only worn a corset once and I have to say say, they suck in the gut really well. The thing about wearing ladies undergarments, well, you just have to let go and get wild with it because that’s really what the show’s all about!”

Goodridge pointed out that the show will not simply recreate the movie though, which he feels is important because then people could watch the DVD. Film fans will recognize some honoured parts though and the show has no intentions of disappointment.

“We didn’t go into any scene with a pre-conceived notion of what it should be like which is great because we keep finding really great moments that’ll be really fun and new for the movie fans and also great for people who are seeing it for the first time.”

The cast also has members who are discovering Rocky for the first time but according to Goodridge “everyone involved is really into it, rehearsals are so much fun!  That’s definitely going to translate on stage.”  The energy at rehearsals helps the group strike a comfort zone according to Goodridge who says, “it’s really one of the best times” he’s had with a show. “Terri’s been a big part of that too because she has a clear vision of what she wants but she doesn’t force anyone to go one way or the other. She likes to see what people can bring to the table and sort of tailors it from there.”

Helpful for Goodridge, who’s never tackled anything this wild before. “I’ve been involved with musicals before but never one quite so raucous. And I’m usually wearing more clothes,” he laughs. “I’d never worn heels, much less platform heels, but I started wearing them early on in rehearsal and that actually helped a lot with the character. Everything’s a bit grander when you’re almost a foot taller.”

As for his character, he’s been conscious throughout rehearsals to put a touch-a touch-a Phil in his role and not mimic Tim Curry. Though he admits some lines slip out “very Curry-esque” he knows that “no one is an exact replica of their on-screen counterpart” and is certain a perfect balance has been struck.

Rocky Costume Contest

Rocky Costume Contest

When asked what his best memory from the production was so far, he confessed that he couldn’t choose between two. When it came time to rehearse “the scene where Frank seduces Brad and Janet, the three of us knew one another before doing this show and were pretty comfortable but we couldn’t stop laughing at each other. We’re talking all sexy and I’m throwing their legs in the air and it was just all too ridiculous.”

The other memorable moment came out of a signing rehearsal. “We were going over I’m Goin’ Home, my favourite song from the show, and there’s a part in the chorus where the entire cast starts singing this big swelling harmony. It was so beautiful – kinda almost wet my pants.”

The Rocky Horror Show runs at the Holy Heart Theatre, March 20 – 22nd 2009 with early and late shows on the first two nights.  Tickets are available by calling 579-4424 and there will be a best costume contest running along with the show.  Two winners will be chosen from the audience each performance and will receive tickets to the closing night where the best of the best will receive Rocky Horror t-shirts and $200.00 in cash.

Documentaries are made to tell stories, to make a point or at least get some thoughts going about one.  What moved Barbara Doran to write and direct her most recent film was the story of a woman named Susan.  At only 31 years old, Susan took her own life and left only a note.  The note wasn’t written to her loved ones, it was written to a video lottery terminal, telling it she had to let it go.  Doran described reading the note as “chilling” when she eventually got the opportunity.  “I knew nothing, I’d seen [VLT’s] in bars and they seemed innocent.  I had no idea of how many tragic stories there were until starting this project.”

John Dunsworth in Playing The Machines

John Dunsworth in Playing The Machines

The film is called Playing The Machines and it tells a number of tragic stories about Canadians who become helpless to the addictions of VLT’s.  Another belongs to Sherry Rhino of Halifax, NS who was left behind after her husband set fire to their car with himself inside, unable to bare the pressure of addiction, despite counselling.  But the film does more then simply attempting to shock its viewers with heartbreaking tragedy.  Real research and commentary is fluid throughout the piece and what was jarring is the fact that in Alberta, the revenues generated from VLT’s actually outweighs those from the oil industry.

According to a publication called The Walrus, 8 of 10 provinces are still allowing 90,000 or so VLT’s to be operated throughout the county and Newfoundland and Labrador was amongst the first five provinces to let them in during the early 1990s.  In this province, $72 million a year is generated from VLT’s and lotto and 62% of people contributing to that are considered problem gamblers.

As for the ongoing public awareness campaigns, Doran says she’s “happy they’re doing it but the problem isn’t the player, it’s the machine.  You press the button and its all decided by a computer chip, what’s on the screen is just animation.  On average for every $30,000.00 pumped in there’s a $500.00 payout and you don’t even remember the money, you remember the win.”

There doesn’t seem to be consensus on what the addictive quality is, but the documentary actually slows down the animation that plays on a VLT’s screen to reveal how the jackpot icons closely align for split seconds to create what’s called a near-miss effect.  It would explain why engaging the machine is important to get the player.  In fact, the documentary features John Dunsworth from The Trailer Park Boys who is a reformed gambler himself and at one point where he is sharing a story in front of a VLT, he goes through the motions and does everything but push the button.

Dunsworth has become one of the country’s biggest advocates for the issue, being most vocal within his home province of Nova Scotia.  Doran came across his efforts in her research and called him up to see if he’d be interested in speaking to her for the film.  They’d initially considered him as host but opted instead to insert him more organically and he became part of the project’s team.

That team includes some other well established veterans such as Nigel Markham as the Director of Photography, Chris Darlington as the Editor, a score by Duane Andrews and producer Rob Blackie.  Harvey Hyslop was behind the sound along with Paul Steffler who did the mix.   The film opens with a brilliantly executed title graphic animation as well which is the work of Peter Evans.

Playing the Machines takes a deeply passionate look at a very compelling issue.  Doran’s work on this film is important and relevant, and perhaps efficiently direct.  The film will be broadcast nationally on CBC Newsworld’s The Lens, March 24th 2009 at 10:00pm ET or 11:30pm here in Newfoundland.

Where The Wild Things Are production still

Where The Wild Things Are production still

Spike Jones has one very interesting resume and it’s about to get one more gem. It’s mostly made up of music videos for everyone from The Chemical Brothers (Elektrobank) to Bjork (It’s Oh So Quiet) to Daft Punk’s signature Da Funk video which featured that famous but so misunderstood dog with his ghetto blaster. Jones made use of the ghetto blaster again when he directed the video for Fatboy Slim’s smash Praise You as well.

The resume doesn’t stop at music videos though. You can’t forget that Jones is also an Oscar nominated feature film director for 1999’s Being John Malkovitch, which was followed by 2002’s Adaptation. But, never before has Jones’ written and directed a full length feature film – that is, until now.

Where The Wild Things Are book illustration

Where The Wild Things Are book illustration

2009 will see a beloved children’s classic book blown up big screen style courtesy of Legendary Pictures and Warner Brothers. Jones and his co-writer for the project, Dave Eggers have diligently worked on adapting Where The Wild Things Are since 2005 and have kept in close contact with the book’s original writer Maurice Sendak throughout the entire process. In fact, Sendak reportedly asked Jones personally to take on the project which he’d kept backburnered since the early 90’s because he’d been unable to find anyone “fitting” to take it on.

Where the Wild Things Are film poster

Where the Wild Things Are poster

The ‘monsters’ created for the film range from 6 to 8 feet tall and were designed and created by The Jim Henson Company. The heads for the costumes were said to be so strenuous to wear that the actors inside could only work for 30 minute period with 10 – 15 minute air conditioning breaks in between.

The cast includes Canadian Catherine O’Hara, Mark Ruffalo, Lauren Ambrows, James Gandolfini and Max Records as Max, the kid who is sent to bed without his supper and creates a world of his own to slip off into, where the wild things are. Currently the film is set to open October 16, 2009 after being set back from it’s original release date of May 2008, then October 2008.

The website for the film is not yet live but the link http://www.wherethewildthingsare.com has been reserved!

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makin’ sense of it all

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